Open apartments set to return with new safety guidelines

by Joshua Michel and Naomi Overby

Open apartments will be coming back to Trevecca beginning Friday, March 12.

The plan to allow guests in apartment buildings has been approved by Trevecca’s COVID-19 Reopening Task Force, student government association and the medical team at the Trevecca Clinic.

“I knew that students were so tired and seeking just a small bit of normalcy,” said Erica Wigart, associated student body president. “I had been listening to so many perspectives that I thought I could create a plan that would be a safe compromise.”

Open apartments will allow each resident in UTA, Wise, Shingler, Bush, and Redford to designate two students as their visitors. Only residential students are permitted to be visitors. Limiting students to two guests was a choice to make contact-tracing easier in the event someone tests positive for COVID-19. 

Wigart said open apartments had been a general discussion for a while. After listening to student concerns, she started to get a plan in writing around December with help from administration on the safest way to have guests in apartments. 

“We know the winter months are hard, there are less outdoor places to utilize for social gatherings, and we care about our students’ health and safety,” said Jessica Dykes, associate vice president and dean of student development. “We have seniors on campus that are planning to get married, and they can’t even visit their significant other in their apartment.”

Dykes met with members of the student government about the potential reinstatement of open apartments, and the feedback was positive. Pushing forward with this plan was done with caution, as no other university in Middle Tennessee has open apartments.

In August of last year, Trevecca was discouraged by the Tennessee Department of Health from having open apartments. 

“It was not even an option in the first semester with the high number of cases and people quarantining,” said Lilienthal. 

With the decline of cases this semester, student development and the resident directors felt open apartments would be possible again with strict regulations and the limited guest list. 

“The two visitors are likely two people that residents are already around anyway,” said Dykes. 

Open apartment hours will be from 6 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Those who unanimously agree in their apartments to have guests must register their guests through the Student Development Gateway. An addendum and instruction was emailed to students with details.

Open dorms will not be reinstated for Benson, Tennessee, and Georgia halls.

“There’s no way we could have 90 girls come in and out of Benson, handing in their IDs in the lobby and all that,” said Zack Church, resident director of University Terrace Apartments. 

Despite this step forward to what campus life used to look like, Wigart urges students to be informed of all the rules that come with this new adjustment to keep open apartments as an option once implemented. 

“We still must be vigilant with mask-wearing and social distancing,” said Wigart. “Trevecca is able to bring back open apartments because they have a well-thought-out plan of how to make it work safely.”

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