University Housing allows students to opt out of Spring 2021 housing

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Cone Hall, a residence hall that mainly houses freshman. University Housing said that students who opt out of living on campus for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester should not plan to return to on-campus housing in the spring 2021 semester.

Gianna Holiday, Associate News Editor

University Housing is offering exemptions for students who wish to leave residence halls and move back home for the remainder of the fall semester due to COVID-19 clusters.

Students who opt out of their housing contracts will receive a refund based on their current assignment and the date they officially check out. Because they are opting out of on-campus housing for the entire year, they will not be billed for spring housing.

Anyone who opted out by Oct. 30 were able to get priority registration.

“We are encouraging students who wish to move out of residence halls to consult with their families and their academic advisors, and make the best individual decision for themselves,” said Megan Hayes, chief communications officer.

University Housing said that students who opt out of living on campus for the remainder of the fall 2020 semester should not plan to return to on-campus housing in the spring 2021 semester.

MaKenzie Shuler, a freshman nursing student, decided to opt out due to concern for her relatives, who are at-risk for COVID-19, and for financial reasons.

“I could’ve gotten basically the exact same educational experience taking my Zoom calls at home versus the dorm room, so I thought saving that large amount of money was the best option for me,” Shuler said.

Exemptions from the housing requirement and current Residence Hall License Contract may be granted to students who are living with parents or guardians while continuing to take all online courses.

“Online classes are a nightmare,” Shuler said. “They are much harder and it is difficult to find the motivation to get the work done. But many classes are only available online whether you are on campus or not, and since pretty much all of my classes this semester were already online, it wasn’t really changing anything for me.”

Hayes said that the university will offer students who opt out of housing priority registration so they will have as many remote learning options as possible. Those who feel more comfortable learning remotely will have more options to continue to do so.

“My guess is that next semester the majority of classes will stay mostly online because of the massive wave of the virus currently hitting our country anyway, so to me it isn’t that big of a deal whether I take them at home or online,” Shuler said .

Exemptions will not be granted for students who wish to move to off-campus residence locations. They must return to the permanent address of parents or guardians.

Students who completed the check-out process by Nov. 1 will receive credits for unused funds on their fall semester meal plan on their student accounts.

They will also not be charged for a spring meal plan and can receive a prorated parking refund if they turn in their parking permits.

“As students begin planning for spring, we are working to provide as many options as possible for students to continue their Appalachian education, including offering as many remote learning options as possible for students who prefer them,” Hayes said.

Those in residence halls have received communications outlining the process. Any student who lives in a residence hall can submit an exemption form via their StarRez account, which housing staff then reviews.

“Despite all of this, I have definitely had overall a very positive experience at App State and the vast majority of interactions have been helpful and smooth,” said Shuler. “This is a super crazy time and I know the university is having just as much trouble figuring out what to do as the students.”