Columbus, OH

Move-in kicks off with a dreary sky, smiling faces and some bittersweet goodbyes

The Lantern
Students pushed red move-in carts filled to the brim with carpets and other dorm essentials during move-in at Smith-Steeb Hall Monday. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

Despite the rain clouds above Columbus flooding campus streets, sidewalks and red moving carts, many Ohio State students moved into their residence halls Monday smiling.

Ohio State’s on-campus move-in kicked off Monday morning with hundreds of students rolling red moving carts filled to the brim with clothes and carpets into Smith-Steeb and Park-Stradley Halls. University spokesperson Dave Isaacs said nearly 15,000 students — mostly first- and second-years — will move into residence halls over the next six days.

For some students, like Michael Montanile, moving to campus is a days-long feat.

“My family and I drove 11 hours from Long Island and stayed in a hotel last night,” Montanile, a first-year in aerospace engineering, said.

Although his BuckID wasn’t working and he hadn’t yet met his roommate, Montanile said move-in was a positive experience — it was simple and swift.

To limit the number of people moving into dorms at one time, Isaacs said residence halls will open according to occupancy levels over the next six days, with the largest buildings opening Monday and Tuesday. To further limit the spread of the coronavirus, students and families are required to wear masks inside residence halls, regardless of vaccination status.

Students had to test negative for COVID-19 — using an at-home test — seven days before their scheduled move-in time before returning to campus. On the day they move in, students are required to test again at Jesse Owens North Recreation Center.

There are also walk-in appointments for COVID-19 vaccines at Jesse Owens North, Isaacs said.

For the second time since the pandemic began, this semester’s move-in takes cues from both last year’s process and from years before the pandemic. Although the weeklong event is longer than what typically unfolds over two days, it’s shorter than last year’s 12 days of move-in .

There are more students moving on campus than last year as well. With the reinstatement of requiring second-year students to live on campus, Isaacs said the university expects residence halls to be filled with about 97 percent of their usual occupancy.

The first day of move-in comes two weeks after University President Kristina M. Johnson announced an indoor mask mandate for all campus visitors , regardless of vaccination status. In a universitywide email, Johnson said the policy change was due to increasing COVID-19 rates in Ohio and nationwide — primarily caused by the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

In Ohio, there were 1,814 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard . The 21-day average of daily COVID-19 cases sits at 1,854 after peaking Aug. 11 with 3,393 new cases.

Nearly 5.25 million Ohioans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday — 50.68 percent of the population — according to the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 vaccination dashboard . Although the number of vaccinated students is unclear, Johnson said in her indoor mask mandate announcement that more than 73 percent of the university community is fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated students living in university housing are required to take weekly COVID-19 tests. Although vaccinated students are not currently required to test weekly, Johnson said that is subject to change depending on the coronavirus’ spread.

For now, that means vaccinated students moving to campus, like first-year in public health Ella Kiener, will visit Jesse Owens North only for her COVID-19 test required upon move-in. As she packed a red moving cart with potted plants and dorm room decorations, she said she looked forward to settling into her new home in Smith-Steeb Hall.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet people and make friends,” Kiener said.

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