Here’s one way to move students in efficiently during COVID

About 6,000 students expected to check into campus during two-week period

Students checking into the University of Central Florida this week are getting COVID tests, room keys and welcome bags without leaving their cars.

About 3,700 students have checked in so far, driving from parking garage to parking garage and then to their residence halls in a move-in process developed by UCF engineering students and faculty.

“It was critical to shift to this type of move-in process, considering the health and wellness measures we have all adopted,” says April Konvalinka, director of housing. “This allowed us to be intentional about our move-in process.”

Compared to years past, when big crowds of students and their families would arrive over a three day period, UCF officials stretched out move-in from Aug. 8 to Aug. 23.

More from UB: 8 dining hall adjustments to make during the COVID-era

The university expects about 6,000 students to go through this check-in process.

Improving the move-in

Students pick two-hour arrival windows, which are then narrowed down by staff to a 15-minute slot. Students are allowed to bring two guests, and everyone must wear masks, Konvalinka says. 

Students get a COVID test in the first garage, then travel to the next to get room keys and have their ID cards encoded. They can then proceed to their residence halls.

In designing the system, engineering grad students and undergraduates ran simulations to make the process as efficient as possible, says Adan Vela, an assistant professor of industrial engineering.

On the first move-in day, the engineering students were on hand to look for further ways to speed up the process but still give students and their families time to ask questions, Vela says.

More from UB: How universities and colleges are handling move-in days

“When you have the luxury of time, you can provide student-focused service,” Vela says. “It’s not just getting them through quickly, it’s getting them through with a smile.”

At the residence halls, staff are sanitizing move-in bins but the university is not using faculty or students as welcome ambassadors this year, Konvalinka says.

“It’s been a good flow,” she says. “Students are, for the majority, abiding by health and wellness guidelines. We’ve had to remind some students about the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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