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Bringing Them Back: Campus Management Focused on Risk Mitigation

01.21.2022

Despite the surge in COVID cases over the recent months, colleges are determined to learn to coexist with the virus. Universities are now focused on adapting to and accepting the new normal in order to keep students engaged and re-enrolling. In a public announcement, Northeastern University’s Chancellor Ken Henderson stated that “as we move into this endemic phase of the pandemic, our job is to continue to control COVID effectively, not let COVID control us.”

“As we move into this endemic phase of the pandemic, our job is to continue to control COVID effectively, not let COVID control us.”

Ken Henderson, Northeastern University Chancellor

How are college campuses managing the surge? 

So how are smart campuses –or any campus for that matter–addressing Omni outbreaks as they prepare to bring students back for the Spring semester? 

Well, some colleges are strictly only offering online learning for the first few weeks including Harvard University which moved to remote operations until January 24. Others are completely delaying the start of the spring semester including Syracuse University which is resuming in-person classes also on January 24.

In order to allow in-person learning, schools are taking precautions to ensure the safety of their students and faculty. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many schools are requiring vaccines for all students and employees at more than 1,000 colleges. Many are not only requiring students to receive both doses of the vaccines, but also the booster. 

The vast majority are also suggesting, some even requiring, that students get tested before venturing back to campus. Stanford University is advising that students get tested before traveling back to campus and urging them to stay home if they test positive. 

As students make their way to campus and in-person classes commence, universities are continuing to enforce mask mandates, routine testing, contact tracing, and quarantining in order to stabilize the rise in COVID cases. Northeastern University plans to remain open and continue to require all on-campus students to be tested on a weekly basis as well as mandate students to quarantine when testing positive or experiencing symptoms.

How is facilities management adjusting to the new norm? 

When you consider the messages coming out of Northeastern and other universities, they’re preparing for surges, whether relating to COVID or even other contagious diseases in years to come. The idea that the pandemic will downgrade to an endemic suggests the continuation of today’s healthcare concerns in micro-communities like college campuses. The expectations around sanitization, occupancy communications, and space management have seeped into other areas of our experience and will continue long after the pandemic. Since in-person learning is crucial to any college’s success,  it’s essential to build occupancy analytics into the central data systems. 

The Armored Things platform utilizes existing Wi-Fi, sensors, and cameras to produce a complete picture of how and when people occupy the spaces managed. The software counts people in real-time, issues alerts, and even supplies predictive analytics. 

Space utilization software has never been more useful than during a pandemic where occupancy is limited in most spaces, especially on college campuses. Our higher education customers are integrating Armored Things into systems like class scheduling and registrar information to add context to occupancy analytics and bring their campus management into sharper focus. Enabled by AI, Armored Things can help you bring students back –and keep them back–safely, building a tech-enabled, flexible campus.

Alex Trotto contributes to the Blog and Social Media channels for Armored Things. She is currently a Northeastern University student in her sophomore year.