Coronavirus Diary (37): Dorm Re-Purposing and the “Surge”

I’m pleased to see versions of the dorm re-purposing proposal that my brother and I made back in March being considered and adopted in a variety of places.

Obviously, we weren’t the first or only people to have come up with the idea. This piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education preceded mine. So did this one on ABC News. Here’s a more recent piece making a similar case in The Nation. Another one regarding universities in the San Diego area. This piece by a University of Portland undergraduate closely resembles our proposal.

Some repurposing proposals have already been adopted. Here’s a list of Boston area schools that are re-purposing dorms. Lehigh Valley schools in eastern Pennsylvania. NYU and Tufts, mentioned in Slate. University of Wisconsin at Madison. University of Mount Union, near Cleveland. Utah State University, providing isolation housing for COVID-positive patients.

To the best of my knowledge, the only New Jersey institution to have adopted the proposal so far is Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. I made the case a few weeks ago to administrators at Felician, who told me that a proposal was under serious consideration there, probably on our Rutherford campus.

I don’t know what monetary arrangements, if any, have been worked out for the use of university dorms, but you can be certain that cleaning and disinfecting after use will be a major expense. I assume it’ll be covered by the relevant State, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I’m also curious whether students (originally so cavalier about COVID) will be reluctant (on alief-like grounds) to move back into dorms that were used by COVID-positive occupants. Though it’d be interesting to find out, I’m actually going to make the case to admin that, insofar as possible, we keep instruction online for fall semester, not because I like online teaching (I’ve always hated it) but because it seems safer to do so. August seems a long way off, but isn’t. (Yes, admin finds me a joy.)

The “surge” seems to have passed in New York City at this point, but is expected to hit New Jersey within the next 24-48 hours. Best coverage, as usual, has been NJTV in Newark.

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus Diary (37): Dorm Re-Purposing and the “Surge”

  1. I got this email today from my local state Assemblyman.

    Freiman, Asm. D.O.
    12:41 PM (8 hours ago)
    to me

    Dear Mr. Khawaja,

    Apologies for any delay in response. My entire office has been working remotely the last month, so it unfortunately took some time to see your letter.

    Hotels, universities, and any other large facility with vacant housing should absolutely serve as isolation centers for medical personnel in need of them—which is why Speaker Craig Coughlin even introduced a bill (A3906) that would do so. Thankfully, this is in fact already being accomplished or planned by many hotel chains and colleges across NJ (which just received permission to house people in need at federal expense), including Stockton University in Galloway, the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, Rutgers University (Camden, New Brunswick, and Newark), the Hilton, and more. However, it is not being managed on a statewide level—rather, it is being managed by the counties or the individual hotels/schools themselves.

    It is best to reach out directly to the schools or hotels to see if they are offering rooms for healthcare workers, and/or one of these 10 organizations who will provide their members with information on how to get a room:

    American Association of Critical Care Nurses
    American College of Emergency Physicians
    American Hospital Association
    American Nurses Association
    Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association
    Emergency Nurses Association
    National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
    Society of Critical Care Medicine
    Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants
    Society of Hospital Medicine

    Assemblyman Roy Freiman

    Roy Freiman
    Assemblyman, District 16
    390 Amwell Road, Suite 301
    Hillsborough, NJ 08844


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