As the University has continued its laser focus on a return to campus for Fall 2020, Clemson Home has been hard at work re-envisioning the residential and dining components that will need to shift due to COVID-19.

“Our mission has always been to create supportive and challenging environments that enrich and nourish lives,” said Assistant Vice President for Housing & Dining Kathy Bush Hobgood. “That’s never been more important than right now!”

The entire University Housing & Dining team has devoted time this summer to reviewing and adjusting typical plans that will ensure residential and dining environments set students up to succeed academically and stay well physically. Healthy Clemson signage will adorn facilities as reminders of physical distancing and adjusted protocols necessary to keep the residential community a healthy one. Preparation for a physically distant move-in has continued and by mid-July students will be able to sign up for a specific date and time to initiate the move-in process.

In addition, a working group has identified more than 100 spaces for isolation and quarantine of students who test positive, while ensuring food delivery, planning for special needs and initiating proper cleaning and sanitation procedures between occupants.

“We have identified some apartment spaces on campus where we can hold rooms in case a student needs to go into isolation by coming out of their regular room and going into another space for a period of time,” Hobgood said. “We would work in conjunction with Redfern Health Center, who would be in regular contact with students. We would do our best to assist them with an environment where a student can continue taking classes remotely while aiming to help stop further transmission.”

Dining halls, retail venues and catering services are of great interest to faculty and staff who will be returning to the workplace. In addition to de-densified capacities in the main dining halls at Schilletter and the Fresh Food Company at McAlister Hall, Hobgood indicated grab-and-go opportunities would be a primary option available to guests. Retail dining spaces would largely depend on operational policies of their corporate entities.

“We know some folks won’t want to dine-in based on their own physical distancing comfort levels, so you’ll see enhanced grab-and-go opportunities,” she said. “We are a franchisee of Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s, among others, and we will remain in conversation with our retail contacts so that we follow their rules to mirror their dining experiences elsewhere. We hope to open as many locations that make sense on a given day, but we’ll have some decisions to make because some spaces are not set up for physical distancing models.”

Hobgood reiterated the University’s desire to create as safe and healthy an environment as possible in light of the challenging circumstances created by COVID-19. Personal preparedness and adjusting to a “new normal” will be important, but so too will be a level of empathy that recognizes ongoing challenges for all.

“We’re going to ask students and staff to do things differently; all of us will need to embrace a shared sense of responsibility for the benefit of the community.”