One of the biggest challenges for safe, in-person socialization this spring semester is that the weather will be colder this January, considering the outdoors are generally safer than the indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The first option for escaping the colder temperatures is to move your socialization indoors. The University of Richmond is currently in the Red Stage of its COVID-19 Physical Distancing Framework, meaning that students may have only two guests in their room (for a double; one for a single, etc.), and guests must live in the same residence hall as the student hosting. Students will have to wear masks and physically distance with this option, but it is a potential option to escape the cold outdoors. This semester students were able to do movie nights, card games and plenty of other activities while complying with the current guidelines.
The Center for Student Involvement has hosted a variety of safe social events for students. Alison Keller, CSI director, wrote in an email to The Collegian that “the CSI vision is to connect with others on campus to create dynamic opportunities for students.”
Keller wrote that events like the residence hall trivia challenge and the Trick or Treat Street celebration of Halloween at the Gambles Mill Eco-Corridor had accomplished CSI’s vision.
“TOTS members created a festive Halloween walk through the eco-corridor, coupled with shortbread pumpkin cookies and hot cider on a crisp fall day,” Keller wrote.
As the spring semester approaches, students can use UR’s events calendar to find school-sponsored opportunities on campus. UR recently added a heater to the tent set up on the forum, making outdoor events in the winter possible.
“The heater for the Forum tent was designed by the University’s Engineering Services Team and utilizes the current steam infrastructure for the campus, which has a travel path located beneath the Forum,” Paul Lozo, UR Facilities director of environmental operations, wrote in an email to The Collegian.
The Forum tent is the only tent on campus with a heater so far, but Lozo’s team has considered heating other tents around campus, he said.
Lee Donlon, manager of the Outdoor Adventures and Recreation program, said cold temperatures did not have to stop students from enjoying the outdoors. Donlon said Outdoor Adventure and Recreation, working in collaboration with the Blue Sky Fund, had created a 3.8 mile-long trail on campus at the beginning of the fall semester called the “Hikes for Kids” trail. Donlon said this trail was created for UR students to enjoy. In October the trail served as part of a fundraiser for the Blue Sky Fund, he said.
Donlon also noted that OAR was still running programs on the on-campus ropes course. Students can schedule a session by emailing OAR, he said. The OAR can help students use resources such as the disc golf course, too, Donlon said.
“[The] outdoor rental shop is up and running,” he said. “We are renting out mountain bikes and a bunch of other sporting goods, as well as giant Jenga and giant Connect Four.”
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Many buildings on campus, such as the Gottwald Center for the Sciences, Modlin Center for the Arts and Tyler Haynes Commons are open to students throughout the day and night, meaning there are a number of warm places where small groups can safely socialize, though some of these buildings, such as Modlin, may require swipe access for entry during late-night hours. Although this year may be challenging for socialization on campus, UR has a number of resources that can help you safely interact with your friends, despite any temperature drops.
Contact lifestyle writer Lillian Tzanev at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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