Class of 2023 and Class of 2024 Councils share details, logistics on return to campus
From January 22 to January 24, freshmen and sophomores will be moving back on campus. In preparation for the upcoming Spring semester, the 2023 and 2024 Class Councils compiled information on move-in procedures and campus life based on firsthand experiences from the Fall semester and details released by the administration.
If you have questions but are unsure who to reach out to or where to find information, here are some essential resources for remote learning, and this document includes links regarding life on campus. Additional information for Spring 2021 can be found on RPI’s COVID-19 website.
Students should plan to arrive on campus at the time they have been assigned and should proceed directly to the East Campus Athletic Village to be tested for COVID-19. Last Fall, it took between five to six hours to receive the test results. This Spring, rapid antigen tests will be used during move-in, and it will take around 30 minutes to obtain results. Students will also need to provide a copy, preferably printed, of their negative test result they took 72 hours prior to arrival. From there, students will be able to pick up mail and other items they may have at the Union, before proceeding to their residence hall. Only one parent may help the student move in.
During the Q&A sessions held on January 13, Rensselaer administrators explained that the testing process would end at 4 pm. As such, students who arrive later in the evening will need to arrange for overnight accommodations and will have to move in the following morning. Shuttle transportation will not be provided by RPI from the Albany airport or other transportation sites, so students must arrange transportation on their own.
For students who are storing their belongings in RPI’s storage units, the Institute plans to have students’ belongings placed in their rooms upon campus arrival. Students who left belongings with RPI in the Spring will not have to reach out to receive their items; the Institute is coordinating the delivery of those items so that they will be delivered to students on campus.
Students are required to provide negative COVID-19 test results prior to arriving on campus. According to Associate Dean of First Year Experience Maria Roberts, “the standard would be a 72 hour window PCR test... [but] if that is not available in your region or appointments cannot be found, an antigen [test] would be accepted, or a PCR slightly out of the timeframe.” Parents helping students move in do not need to get tested before arriving on campus.
After move-in, students will be tested twice weekly at the Armory and should schedule their testing online at the beginning of the semester. Students will begin these regular tests during the quarantine and will be allowed to leave the building to do so. Generally, the COVID-19 testing process takes about five minutes and will be conducted by the student under the supervision of the testing staff. Students who are not required to be on campus will not have access to testing for Spring 2021.
During quarantine, students will have a choice between two to three different items for each meal, in addition to a vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free option. According to Director of Auxiliary Services Michael Ramella, an email will be sent out before move-in with the link to the form to select meals during quarantine.
Once the quarantine is over, students will need to make reservations for a time to eat at the dining halls. Reservations can be made through the mobile dining app TRANSACT. According to Ramella, the Institute is working to extend the time limit for dining from 30 to 45 minutes for lunch and dinner. During the Q&A sessions on January 13, Executive Director of Rensselaer Dining Services Dawn Aubrey explained that the dining hours will be extended by one hour compared to the Fall semester. The To-Go options will also be available to order through the mobile dining app, so students will no longer have to make a reservation to get meals to-go.
Instead of using meal swipes, sophomores will have $1760 in Flex dollars to spend anywhere on campus through the “Create-Your-Own” Meal Plan. This is to create more space in the dining halls to accommodate for the increased number of students on campus this semester. Using Flex dollars, breakfast costs $5.25 while lunch and dinner are both $8.80.
Students with specific allergies or concerns about meals during the quarantine should reach out to Kimberly Mayer (firstname.lastname@example.org), the registered dietician on campus. The dining hall menus list common food allergens, but more information about specific ingredients can be found on Sodexo’s Bite app.
The Daily Interactions & Activities Log DIAL App is an online tool used by RPI to track an individual’s symptoms and social interactions, and for scheduling COVID-19 tests. Students must complete the Daily Health Check on a daily basis and complete a mental health assessment on a biweekly basis. Students who fail to stay up-to-date with DIAL tasks may lose campus access. If students need help navigating the DIAL app, they can email email@example.com.
The 2:1 bathroom ratio will still be required for off-campus students, though the ratio has been expanded to 4:1 to accommodate the sophomore class for students living on campus. For the first three days of the 14-day the quarantine, students are to remain in their rooms. For the remaining quarantine period students may leave their rooms but must stay within the building, unless they leave for COVID-19 testing. Students will not be allowed to receive food deliveries or other similar deliveries during the quarantine. Throughout the semester, the common kitchen areas in dorms will not be available for student use with the exception of microwaves. Residential students can also expect frequent RA check-ins which, in the fall, were conducted daily during quarantine and monthly for the rest of the semester.
According to Dean of Students and Assistant Vice President for Student Life Travis Apgar, the Institute is not responsible for leases that were signed after students received the initial remote learning approval notice, which was later retracted as an “error” in December. Lawyers contracted through the Student Union can assist students in negotiations with landlords.
Study spaces in the RPI Student Union and the Folsom Library have been adjusted to meet the Institute’s COVID-19 compliance policies. Activities, clubs, and events are not permitted to take place in the Union as these spaces are reserved for studying only. In the Folsom Library last Fall, students were only allowed to use individual study rooms; group study rooms were closed off from student use. In addition, students were not allowed to collaborate at the large tables on each floor of the library; students had to remain in their own space, six feet away from others, and keep their mask on at all times. The restrictions in the Spring should remain similar to the Fall semester.
Academic aid will be provided by the Freshman and Sophomore LAs and the I-PERSIST mentors, including Discord servers for sophomore courses, Webex review sessions for freshman courses, and a review week for finals. Students can find tutoring services and remote learning strategies on the ALAC website.
For students wishing to pursue remote learning, the remote education application form is still open on SIS until February 5. The criteria taken into account by the administration include medical conditions, international or travel complications, housing concerns, and general concerns regarding being on campus (financial or otherwise).
Responses to remote learning requests are based on the time the remote learning request was submitted. Particularly, students who requested to go remote earlier than January 4 should have received their decision by January 13, unless more information is required. Students have the option to appeal the administration’s decision, instructions to which can be found in the decision email. If appealing the decision, it is best to provide additional medical information or documentation. Students who would like to rescind their request to study remotely this Spring should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students who have had their remote learning requests accepted will not be charged for room and board or a meal plan for the Spring 2021 semester. The parents of students who have been approved for remote learning received the following information from the Bursar office: “If you have been granted room and board waiver, you are to subtract those charges from the balance due. You will be able to see the adjustments in SIS when they remove room and board charges. We have not heard when exactly that is going to happen so please just subtract those [two] items from the amount due. If you need to adjust any loan amounts, please contact the Financial Aid Office at email@example.com.”
On January 13, Director of the Rensselaer Union Charlie Potts explained that the Mueller Center will not be open at the start of the Spring semester, but did not confirm whether or not new venues such as classrooms and study spaces will be available for student use. Winter sports have been canceled and no decision has been made about Spring sports.
Greek Life, Club, and Union activities will be conducted virtually. A virtual Clubs and Activities Fair will be held through Webex Events from February 16 to February 19 from 6-9 pm ET. Students will receive an email with a form the week before the Activities Fair, which will be used to match students with clubs they may be interested in. Students may also check out the Club Directory for a list of active clubs and their contact information. Though Greek housing is not available this Spring due to RPI's COVID-19 guidelines, fraternity and sorority recruitment will still be conducted online. The Panhellenic Council is holding sorority recruitment from February 4 to February 7.
The Class Councils intend to collect more questions from freshmen and sophomores throughout the Spring semester. Please feel free to email Class of 2023 President Harshil Patel (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Class of 2024 Vice President Ria Massoni (email@example.com) with any further questions or concerns.