Students looking to stay on campus over the extra-long winter break will be able to snag a room free of charge if they already have a housing contract for the school year. 

Unlike previous years, River Campus students will not be relocated and will remain in their regular dorms for either a short-term or long-term stay, according to the Residential Life website. The former is from Nov. 25 until Dec. 19 (last day of finals), and the second from Nov. 25 to Jan. 22. 

Students looking to stay could register using an online survey that closed today. Any student who has not yet reached out, or who wants to stay past Dec. 19 but doesn’t have a spring contract, should contact

Students looking to stay from November to January will have a mandatory $895 dining fee. This is their only fee. Short-term students do not have a mandatory plan.

“We wanted to make sure that there’s enough people to make a [dining] plan viable,” Executive Director of Residential Life and Housing Services Laurel Contomanolis said. In order to do that, we […] need to have a certain number of students, so that we can have a dining plan for that period […] This is a different kind of situation this year.”

She explained that although students might be in facilities with kitchen access, most of those kitchens will be shut down for the break, so those students are not exempt. As usual, unused declining from this period will roll over to the spring semester.

According to Contomanolis, students will only have swipe access to their dorms, the first floor of Susan B. Anthony for Hillside, and a handful of common spaces such as Rush Rhees and Wilson Commons. Wilson Commons Student Activities will have limited programming during the break, the ResLife website reads. 

Students staying short-term or long-term must remain within 100 miles of the University at all times. Students who leave at any point are not allowed to return until the scheduled move-in at the end of January, at which point they will have to quarantine and take a COVID-19 test while they wait for the results, according to Contomanolis.

Looking to the spring, Contomanolis does not expect any significant changes to the COVID-19 policies currently in place.

“As much as I would love to see us be able to lift the [ban on guests in dorms], […] we’ve got to be really careful,” she said. “I get it — I mean, it’s really tough: people with relationships, and wanting to make friends.” 

We’ve had quite a few positive students [in the past few weeks],” Contomanolis said. “We’ve done our best to get people into quarantine, to try to keep that contained. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we’re on top of it. But some of the [cases] had some pretty significant contact levels when the contact tracers really [got] into it.”

Students are required to vacate their rooms by Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 9 a.m., and are encouraged to pack up their belongings to the best of their ability. 

“While we fully expect to be in-person in Spring 2021 […] we ask that you take this precaution in case the situation with COVID-19 unexpectedly worsens and the University is not able to resume in-person for spring term,” the website reads. 

“I suspect that a lot of students who are able to go home are going to go home, and [returning to campus] is going to be part of the conversation over Thanksgiving dinner,” Contomanolis said. “[so] what we’re asking students to do as they prepare to depart is to at least gather things together in your room.” 

She said that ResLife will be getting a “limited supply” of boxes and bags to store students’ belongings, but the onus lies a little heavier on students this semester to plan for a shutdown before/during the spring semester. “Even if you don’t know what your decision is […] If you’re in a double room and you’re both terrible housekeepers […] if you can just neaten it up so we can have some sense — if we do have to box some things up —  it would make our life a lot easier.”

So we are asking students to try to put things in good order before they leave,” she said.

When students return in the spring, they will be required to take a COVID-19 test before entering New York State, and will have to quarantine until they receive the results. The University has arranged up to 500 spaces in local hotels, which will be covered up to 95% by financial aid, depending on a student’s level of need. “Students may be responsible for up to $1386 of the cost,” the website reads. Students concerned about the cost of quarantine or the mandatory winter stay meal plan should contact their financial aid advisor for more information. 

Like the fall, students must register for a date and time, according to the ResLife website. Registration for spring move-in will be available Jan. 4, 2021. 

Photo Editor Henry Litsky contributed to the reporting for this article.

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