'I’m excited for college to start’: Miami students move back to campus with extra screenings, testing

Miami University screened and tested students on their return to move into campus housing on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Thousands of Miami University students moved on to campus Monday under the shadow of a spike of local coronavirus cases.

The first day of the week-long move-in, which was delayed from the university’s traditional mid-August start date due to coronavirus precautions, went well, said Miami officials.

ExploreWATCH: Miami University welcomes students to move-in day with screenings, testing

“We are pleased with how smoothly move-in has gone (Monday),” said Carole Johnson, spokeswoman for Miami.

There were delays, however, like none ever experienced before due to school officials routing families' cars through coronavirus temperature checks and other precautionary procedures before allowing them to help their children move into residence halls.

Miami University students moved back in to on-campus housing on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Miami University students moved back in to on-campus housing on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

“We have had some backups for testing early this morning, but families have been very patient and understanding. We continue move-in all week and encourage families to arrive on campus during the latter portion of their move-in window to help reduce wait times for testing,” said Johnson of the staggered move-in dates employed by the school through the week.

As of Friday, the school reported 1,243 student cases and five staff cases of coronavirus since the tracking began last month. There were 42 new student cases reported on Friday.

Students at Miami’s main Oxford campus and those learning at the school’s regional campuses in Hamilton and Middletown are being offered a combination of in-person classes and remote learning. Moreover, some of Miami’s near 20,000 students have chosen to take all remote learning classes during the school’s first semester.

Cars line up for Covid-19 testing before students move in to dorms at Miami University Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 in Oxford. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
Cars line up for Covid-19 testing before students move in to dorms at Miami University Monday, Sept. 14, 2020 in Oxford. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

In a normal school calendar year, about 16,000 live on or near campus while attending classes on the Oxford campus.

Miami President Gregory Crawford wrote to school parents and students that “the on-campus student population will be significantly lower than previous years, as many students chose to pursue the fall semester remotely, therefore, the density of students living on-campus will be reduced by approximately 40 percent.”

ExploreMiami sticks with plan to return to campus, offers delayed move-in

In-person and remote classes begin Monday.

Miami is requiring students to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus, before moving into their residence halls.

Students and families returning to campus have multiple options, including moving in as planned, going completely remote or delaying their return by two weeks.

Anyone changing their plan from what they selected in August will need to select their new plan. Students have until Friday to change their decision to fully remote or a delayed return.

Under the delayed return, students will move in on Oct. 3 or 4 and start on Oct. 5. The university will prorate dinning and housing fees.

If a student who delayed their return is still uncomfortable with returning to campus, they have until Oct. 2 to switch to completely remote.

Freshman Joseph Lucas came from Tennessee Monday with his family.

“I hope to not get COVID and I’m excited for college to start,” said Lucas, who is doing all remote learning for his first initial college semester.

His mother, Cathy Lucas, paused from helping with the move and said “it’s been a crazy year but we’re just glad to be here finally.”