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Survey: Top challenges and lessons from the return to campus

APPA asked its educational facilities professionals to share their reopening challenges and lessons learned in a recent survey. About 400 members responded with some truly useful and eye-opening information.  

APPA’s Executive Vice President Lander Medlin summarized some of the results in a recent blog post:

“Student Housing “move-in” plans worked well and may prove to be a new best practice. Most implemented testing protocols at 80% and those plans worked well at 89%. Contact tracing procedures were also implemented at 88% of schools which reported that it’s working at 87%. However, significant challenges remain for both testing and tracing approaches and outcomes. Digital tracing platforms were only utilized by 45% of respondents. Quarantine and isolation situations developed and spaces were definitely needed by three-quarters of our respondents. In addition, beds set aside for this purpose averaged 10% of total stock. With respect to signage and wayfinding approaches, they worked at a significant level of 95%. Yet, there are still some interesting challenges and lessons we are learning as we proceed further into this pandemic. Food and dining service processes appeared satisfactory, but physical distancing was still problematic. Social justice issues have only emerged at only 22% of the institutions, but it’s early in the semester. Town-gown issues did not arise in any big way either. You’ll find for both these issues that some of the lessons shared in the written survey responses were mostly positive. A summation of the top 5 challenges or lessons learning has also been provided on the website.”

Here is a sample of some of the biggest challenges the FMS shared in the survey. Click here to see more categories and the lessons learned by these facilities teams. Click here to read more analysis from a recent APPA Town Hall on the topic.

What was the biggest challenge or lesson learned with your housing move-in process? Move-In Process Top 5 Responses:

  • An extended length of time was necessary for this process (spread out over many days as well as staggered/scheduled times for move-in).
  • Ensuring that students/parents followed protocols around social distancing, PPE requirements, etc.
  • Frequent and clear communication to students/parents/staff was critical.
  • Managing expectations throughout the process was important.
  • Remaining flexible and adaptable to changes that needed to be made.

What has been the biggest challenge or lesson learned with your dining/food service process? Dining/Food Service Process Top 5 Responses:

  • Trash in the waste stream has increased dramatically (i.e. pests are more prevalent and Grounds crews have to empty trash much more frequently).
  • Take out/delivery/food apps/and reduced food option menus are the new norm.
  • Long lines/limited seating created social distancing concerns.  Removing masks indoors to eat also raises new concerns.
  • Limited food service options have created reduced hours for staff and revenue shortfalls.
  • Socially distant outdoor seating options have presented new and unique challenges.

What was the biggest challenge or lesson learned with your quarantine/isolation process?Quarantine Process Top 5 Responses:

  • Ensuring students remained in quarantine and followed all protocols around this.
  • Communication to all stakeholders was critical and challenging.
  • Managing turnover of spaces and everything associated with this (i.e. staffing/disinfecting, etc.).
  • Logistics around meals and transporting students to quarantine was challenging.
  • Balancing HIPPA rules/requirements with communication needs to all stakeholders.”

Click to see more on Signage, Test protocols, Contact Tracing Protocols/Procedures, Town and Gown Issues, Social Justice Issues. Also click to see more fulsome examples of challenges and lessons learned for each category.