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“Traditional Move-in” with COVID-19 testing required for spring semester

<p>Students were required to show proof of a negative COVID test before on-campus move-in. </p>

Students were required to show proof of a negative COVID test before on-campus move-in.

When Sophia Ogot received an email from Miami University’s Residence Life staff that told her to arrive on campus with COVID-19 test results, she quickly found out there were no available tests in her area in California. 

Like Ogot, more than 7,800 other on-campus students were expected to provide a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen), administered no more than three days before returning to campus this spring.

Ogot, a sophomore political science major, ended up flying in the Friday before classes started and crashing on the couch of an off-campus friend before getting a test in Oxford to fulfill the requirement.

On Sunday, Jan. 23, students checked in for move-in day at a desk in their residence hall, where their testing documentation was reviewed before they moved in.

For Ogot, her CVS PCR test results weren’t ready in time for move-in, but she was able to move into her residence hall before being instructed to visit Harris Hall where a rapid COVID-19 test was performed.

“It wasn’t really that busy,” Ogot said. “It was really convenient, and it only took 15 minutes.” 

Ogot said the whole move-in process was pretty easy.

Steve Large, assistant vice president for health & wellness, said this semester’s move-in went better than expected. 

“From my perspective, move-in this semester went extraordinarily well,” Large said. “From a COVID-19 perspective, we had anticipated and planned for a variety of possibilities, and really, there were no issues that came up throughout moving that we didn't already anticipate or have planned for.”

Large said the staff was prepared to test 300 students on site if they didn’t bring proof of a negative test, but only 81 students needed the service. Of that 81 tested, three came back positive.

Large reported that 95% of on-campus students were in compliance with the move-in protocols.

The only exception to the arrival testing was students who have tested positive for and recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days and provided proof.

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“We are still identifying right now who the non-actors are,” Large said. “Non-actors is how I would describe a student that either didn't provide a negative result or didn't email their result to COVID-19@miamioh, or didn't complete the 90 day exemption form. So that's what we're doing now is sorting through all of that data to identify who, if any, and how many non-actors there were.”

Large said the main concerns he heard from parents were around the type of COVID-19 tests that would be accepted and the detailed definition of the three-day test window.

Large also noted that this semester’s move-in looked similar to pre-COVID-19 move-in protocols, with the exception of the arrival testing. 

“This semester, was a, I would say, a ‘traditional move-in,’ where all on-campus students were invited to return back to campus for Sunday, unless they had sought and received permission to return early,” Large said, “which we certainly had a number of students that did return early as well.”

Large said around 500 students returned early to campus. These students were able to move in without providing test results, but were asked to pick up an at-home test from Armstrong and report the results to the COVID-19 email inbox.

Ogot said she preferred the staggered move-in dates from previous semesters to the one day move-in. 

“It was actually easier my freshman year because they had testing sites already set up, and it was spread out over the weekend which was helpful,” Ogot said.  “When you come from out-of-state, sometimes you can't pick super close [flight] days to when the move-in date is, and [move-in this year] was only on Sunday, so I couldn't access the dorm before then.”

Large also noted that move-in was a unique collaboration across departments.

“[The office of] residence life worked really closely with our Dean of Students Office and Health Services, and our COVID managers, and we were all in constant communication with each other that day, and kept the wheels turning behind the scenes in a really neat way,” Large said. “So from an overall high level perspective, I would say I think it went very well.”