Before the COVID-19 pandemic students were able to go about the Pierce College Center for Global Scholars Residence Hall. Now, the residence hall must operate with the pandemic in mind. (Photo courtesy of Pierce College)

Pierce College Center for Global Scholars Residence Hall continues adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Pierce College Center for Global Scholars Residence Hall, located near the Fort Steilacoom campus, provides housing for domestic and international students based on room availability. 

CGS Residence Hall offers different room options and building amenities. The residence hall began accepting applications from students in 2016, housing applicants attending Pierce College at either the Fort Steilacoom or Puyallup campus. 

The campus housing department keeps updated with global events and reacted quickly to the news about COVID-19 in 2020, making modifications to their facilities as early as Jan. 2020. By Feb. 2020, staff began drafting a pandemic plan which was finalized a month later to follow with the Washington state COVID-19 guidelines. 

“Things were changing at that point when we started the pandemic plan. Things were vastly different by the time closure happened, so we have to make adjustments as we went,” said Ashley Chambers, Pierce College housing administrator.

After the announcement of the college shutdown in March 2020, residents were encouraged to return home to their families. According to Chambers, during the early days of the state lockdown parents living in other countries sent their children masks, hand sanitizers and other sanitation supplies. 

“I think parents overseas were watching their news which showed that we didn’t have access to PPE (personal protective equipment), there was no toilet paper, no cleaning supplies, all of those things,” said Chambers. 

Before the campus closure, the residence hall was occupied by around 60 residents. By the end of spring quarter 2020, the number of students that stayed at the residence hall was less than 20. Due to this number, one student was placed per room. As more students arrive during the pandemic, students are now allowed to have a roommate. A maximum of two people are permitted to occupy triple and quad rooms, typically reserved for three and four students respectively.  

Students arriving or returning to Washington state are required to complete a 14-day quarantine after entry. 

“If they get tested after five days and it’s negative they can be released from quarantine. That’s a big change, that’s never been required before,” said Chambers. 

Aside from self-isolating after arrival to the state, public interactions, sanitation measures and social distancing are put in place for students to follow.

Since March 2020, residents are not permitted to bring any visitors to the residence hall. Staff, such as residence hall employees, groundskeepers and janitors are allowed to enter the facility.

There is a limit of five people per shared space, like the study room and kitchen. Residents are required to wear masks and social distance in these areas. A total of three people are allowed inside a student’s room. 

Throughout the residence hall, sanitation stations are placed which provide wipes and cleaning supplies for students to use. Residents are asked to clean surfaces they touched, like stove knobs, tables and door handles. When washing dishes, students hand-wash their cups and plates and then must place them in the dishwasher for sanitation.  

Beginning fall 2020, Pierce College CGS Residence Hall included gender-inclusive rooms and bathrooms to provide housing options that welcome all gender identities.

“If a student says that they want to live in gender-inclusive housing, whether they identify as any gender, and another student says they’re also choosing gender-inclusive housing, we can place those two students together,” said Chambers.

The CGS Residence Hall is open for applications throughout the school year. Students interested in applying and looking over room costs, housing agreements and other information regarding residence can visit On Campus Housing – CGS Residence Hall.

Other than the CGS Residence Hall, Pierce College offers the Homestay program. This housing program is an opportunity for international students to experience American culture by living with a host family. Students interested in applying can visit Pierce College International Education – Housing page

In addition to residing in a facility with adapted safety measures and inclusive rooms available, students are able to build connections with their housemates during their time in Pierce College.

“It’s not just an apartment that you rent, it’s also about the relationships that you built and the friendships you make,” said Chambers. 

Interviews and article by @cpaezreporting on Twitter.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Celine Paez

Pierce College Center for Global Scholars Residence Hall continues adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic

by Celine Paez time to read: 3 min