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Officials nervous for students’ return

With the semester almost over, Miami University senior Tori Lineweaver has decided to come back to Oxford.

Lineweaver originally left her Oxford home and most of her belongings on March 17, soon after classes were moved online. She headed for her hometown of Cleveland.

Along with many other Miami students, Lineweaver will be returning to her off-campus home to officially move out for the semester. 

With the return of students and, in some cases, their families, Oxford Police Department (OPD) Lieutenant Lara Fening has been posting reminders to continue social distancing practices on OPD’s Facebook page

“After you're done moving out, historically, people always just hung out, had some drinks, had some food and kind of a like last goodbye type of a thing,” Fening said. “So we're trying to discourage that.”

Fening said she only posts when necessary so her messaging stays with students as they return. 

“It's just a delicate balance because we also don't want to be hounding people to death,” Fening said. “If you hound every weekend saying, ‘You can't do this. You can't do this. You can't do this,’ then I'm afraid that they're going to tune us out.”

Lineweaver said she and her seven roommates will stay in Oxford for a couple weeks together to say goodbye. They plan to practice social distancing and wear masks when needed. 

“I know that a lot of people haven't been social distancing, but that's definitely something that's important to me and something that's important to my housemates,” Lineweaver said. 

Lineweaver will also be following the less-than-10-people regulation implemented by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. 

A few of Lineweaver’s housemates have stayed in Oxford since the stay-at-home order was issued. Lineweaver said people on her street have been throwing parties “all the time.”

Oxford City Councilor Chantel Raghu said she has seen similar behavior around the city. 

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“Just walking around, I'm seeing quite a few parties,” Raghu said. “So that makes me a little nervous. I don't think it’s roommates hanging out, so it is a little scary.”

Raghu said she worries about what could happen when people who are not taking social distancing interact with those who are. 

“I imagine most students are taking this seriously,” Raghu said. “It's just there's a visible difference whenever you see parties sprouting up as students start to roll back into town. I worry about just what will happen as far as infection rate.”

Fening said OPD has received some reports of gatherings exceeding the 10-person limit. She said the first thing officers do is determine if the report is valid, and if it is, officers can try to educate the party. 

“We will remind them about the social distancing physical distancing, and it gives us an opportunity to discuss their particular situation with them, which is kind of good,” Fening said. 

Fening recommends housemates move out in shifts, allowing a few hours for each roommate to pack up their things with their family. She also encourages families to bring their own cleaning supplies and tools for any disassembly of furniture. 

OPD is discouraging graduation parties and goodbye parties during the move-out time, but Fening said she doesn’t want people to cancel these events, only postpone them. 

Fening herself has two kids in college and wants to see them go back to school in the fall. 

“I'm relying on people that are here now to do the right thing so that we can keep making progress,” Fening said. “So that we can all have a normal life come fall, hopefully.”

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