U of M students move in, and test the latest COVID-19 measures

A man puts a file cabinet in a bin.
David Lloyd helps unload dorm room furniture into a basket for his son Miko Tapscott as he moves in for his freshman year at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

This week, students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus are moving into dorms after a two-week delay. The pandemic has changed many things, but the basics were still the same, as parents and students pulled unwieldy futons into buildings and exchanged tearful goodbyes.

Miko Tapscott loaded boxes into a laundry cart. He was masked up and excited to finally get a start to his first year of college, which felt more real. The Mankato-area student has been in class for two weeks already, online.

”It felt weird starting, and now when I have to move in I had to get my homework done beforehand so I could be prepared,” Tapscott said.

The U gave each student a one-hour time slot to move in. Tapscott’s parents helped him move in, and split duties, with one arranging and the other helping to lug items upstairs.

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“We reverse engineered everything at the house and just think about the timeline and worked out the logistics of it for the last week or so,” said parent David Lloyd.

In addition to pushing back move-in day, the university instituted a strict, four-step process for students who live in dorms on the Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester campuses. First, they’ll spend at least 10 days living and learning almost exclusively inside the residence halls and are told not to visit other dorms, businesses or off-campus residences. For nearly a month, they’ll have a 9 p.m. curfew.

“Minnesota seems like they have a pretty good plan. I don't know how well it's going to be enforced or how well we're going to be able to move through the phases of their plan. So I'm a little nervous for that,” said Jessica Boccio.

A freshman student from Milwaukee, Boccio has friends who have had to quarantine because of the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses. But she was pleased with the move-in process, and so was her mother, Robin McKlemore.

“We were the only ones in her hallway, there were no lines to get on the elevators to move her stuff in and out. So from that perspective, I think they did an excellent job of trying to stagger the kids,” McKlemore said.

Isabelle Perrin, a first-year student from White Bear Lake, said despite a move-in day that went against her expectations, she was “glad they have the safety measures in place we have to quarantine for the first 10 days. And so I'm excited to get past that and be able to like actually go out on campus.”

Don Perrin was concerned about his daughter moving into her dorm, and had suggested she live at home.

“I think they should have just put it off for a month or two and see what the heck hits. But you know, we're doing what we can, and this is what she wants,” he said. “She's very good at being safe and that type of thing. So we're hoping that everything turns out OK.”

The staggered move-in times mean that students will be moving into the dorms all week long, and adjusting to their changed lives on campus.

“I thought I'd be able to be here with my friends and be hanging out right away. But it is what it is. And we're making the best of it,” Isabelle Perrin said.