Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute takes technological approach to reopen to students


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

TROY, N.Y. (WTEN) – Apps, testing and de-densification. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has outlined its plans to keep students safe on campus this fall.

Dean Travis Apgar announced 1,500 students will be moving into residence halls between August 22 and 24, and plans have been developing since March to ensure this coming weekend and fall semester proceeds safely.

Moving-in weekend will look very different. Students can only bring one person to assist with the move, and will first report to the east campus at an allocated time for a coronavirus test. After testing is complete, the students will receive their keys along with some PPE and instructions on moving in.

Testing is a key component of the plans. Students, who are considered “high risk” due to the amount of contact they have, will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, every week, throughout the semester.

Those who are considered to be moderate risk, such as graduate teaching assistants, will be tested weekly. Faculty and lecturers, who will deliver their classes from behind plexiglass, have been deemed low risk and will be tested every two weeks. The lowest risk category includes researchers, who routinely wear PPE as part of their work. Those in the lowest risk category will be tested monthly.

Two phone based apps have also been developed to help students log who they have come into contact with and report any symptoms.

Logs in the “contact app” will be kept for 28 days to assist tracing in the event of a positive test. Local and national trends will also be monitored for anything that could impact campus safety. The “Dial Instrument” app will give students the ability to check symptoms off on a checklist and give daily reports on how they are feeling.

Should someone on campus test positive, quarantine facilities will be made available. Those placed in isolation will receive regular check ups and the quarantine area has places for students to shower, eat and learn. People who have come into contact with a positive case will also be isolated.

Additional housing has also been made available to help de-densify the campus. Some of the extra housing is off-campus, while RPI has also struck an agreement that would see College Suites at Hudson Valley accommodate upperclassmen for the academic year. No other additional buildings are said to be needed.

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