Students living off-campus increases for spring semester

Off-campus housing, such as Province pictured here, becomes popular for students to safeguard themselves against COVID-19. Many students requested single living spaces near the university to continue their remote learning environment.

Kelly Krabill Reporter

Two weeks into the spring semester, the number of students living on campus has fallen by 37 percent compared to the fall. 

While 3,576 students unpacked their belongings into dormitories at the beginning of fall, many moved back home or into off-campus apartments this spring, leaving 2,265 students living on campus.

“Many students moved out of locations with a shared bathroom setup and into rooms with private bathrooms (the Centennial Court) or a fully empty double bed, likely to provide additional peace of mind from COVID-19,” David Taylor, the director of housing operations, said in an email.

The fall semester had a total of 5,648 available beds; this semester’s current occupancy is at 44 percent.

In the past five years, student housing on campus has seen a decline of about five to six percent between the fall and spring semester, Taylor said. The pandemic however has brought less appeal for on campus living.

While junior aerospace engineering major Noah Shupe decided to continue remote courses from his parents’ home in Cleveland last fall and into the spring semester, he hopes to return to campus for the fall of 2021. But he said he wants a more pandemic-free living space.

“Coming back from post-pandemic, I want to still keep my distance, especially since the environment is going to be exactly the same,” Shupe said.

His preferred choice of housing is Centennial Court, for a single room option with a private bathroom. Beall Hall is listed as his second choice on Kent’s housing application.

Fall 2021’s application opened on Feb. 1 and 1,537 students applied on the first day. Adjustments have been made to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as converting triple rooms to double rooms and some double rooms to single rooms.

Because of the vaccine, Shupe said, it seems possible to return back to campus, although projections of when the vaccine will be available for college students is uncertain at this time.

The total number of COVID-19 cases that were recorded on campus by the end of the fall was 860, while there have only been roughly 185 positive cases so far this semester.

Even though COVID-19 cases climbed in the last quarter of 2020, Kent’s COVID Response Team continues to monitor student testing.

The university required mandatory COVID-19 testing for any student living in residence halls before they could move in for the semester. Students were able to request a next-day take home testing kit from Kent State before their move in date. 

In addition, students participate in weekly testing at the Ice Arena, Taylor said in an email.

“This testing has allowed the university to be more transparent in positivity rates and help prevent floor or wing quarantines,” Taylor said in an email.

Kent’s housing operations is hoping to have around 5,500 students living on campus for the fall 2021 semester, he said.

Kelly Krabill covers administration. Contact her [email protected]