As Michigan State University has adjusted its operations to the COVID-19 outbreak, the department of Residential and Hospitality Services has been working to ensure the safety and health of students.
Assistant Director of Communications Bethany Balks has been at the forefront of the department’s response.
“Residential and Hospitality Services leadership has been meeting almost daily since the university response to COVID-19 began,” Balks said. “Leaders have reviewed guidance from the university, county health department, state and national government to inform our decisions.
“As RHS is a critical division to maintain housing and dining for students, it’s important that we maintain safe and healthy living and working environments. It’s a large team effort to address the coronavirus concerns, from facilities to operations to residence education to culinary services.”
One of the primary concerns for Residential and Hospitality Services has been facilitating the move-out process for students opting to leave their residence halls.
“We’ve been able to be flexible and adaptable,” Balks said. “We have been able to implement new practices, like express checkout, that allow students to move out faster and staff to have less physical contact.
“Additionally, we’ve created new processes like remote checkout to accommodate residents that have left and would have a hard time returning. Our regular processes have continued as we’re open and operating.”
As the coronavirus outbreak has unfolded, MSU announced the suspension of in-person classes on March 11 and offered all on-campus students a credit of $1,120 if they check out of their room by 5 p.m. April 12.
“I think they’re handling it as best as they’ve been able to,” kineseology student Mark DeMartini said. “Most of the people living on campus left, so they’re doing a great job for the people remaining in East Lansing.”
Students can receive the funds as a direct deposit, or they can be used toward an on-campus housing plan for the upcoming semester. Students were notified of the refund on March 16.
“I think Michigan State did a good job of closing school when they did,” said advertising major Stephanie Stapert. “And by incentivizing students to move out it has limited the spread of the coronavirus and the number of workers who are needed across campus.
“I appreciate that the university didn’t mandate that all students move out since some, especially international students, may have difficulty getting home.”
Balks reminded students to stay informed.
“Make the decision best for yourself, your family and other Spartans. Continue to social distance if you are staying on campus and take the CDC and campus directives seriously. Keep checking your email and the Live On COVID-19 website for updates. We’re working hard to immediately share information as it becomes available.”