UH-Manoa hopes to increase dorm capacity as COVID cases stay low

UH-Manoa hopes to increase dorm capacity as COVID cases stay low
UH-Manoa dorms are at 50% capacity because of the pandemic. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s been just a handful of COVID-19 cases among students living in University of Hawaii-Manoa dorms this semester, and that’s offering officials hope they’ll be able to increase the number of students living on campus as early as this fall.

Two months into the spring semester, UH has seen four students in dorms test positive for COVID.

In fall 2020, there were 14.

“We’re pretty optimistic, I should say, about the Fall (2021) semester and things kind of turning the corner and us being able to increase capacity.” said UH Dan Meisenzahl. “But a lot of it depends on the vaccination effort.” He added capacity changes would also depend on broader COVID guidelines.

UH-Manoa slashed capacity in its dorms to 50% in fall 2020, which meant no roommates for most students and no outside visitors. (The previous semester, capacity was lower because students were given the option to pack out of the dorms early after the pandemic started and get partial refunds.)

Amid ongoing vaccination efforts, UH is working with the state Health Department to determine where its faculty, staff and students fall on the priority list.

Students who live on campus are currently not eligible for COVID vaccines.

Laurie Furutani, residence life coordinator at UH-Manoa Student Housing Services, said the campus continues to focus on isolating individuals who may have come into contact with positive cases.

The University Health Service is also providing free coronavirus surveillance testing.

And when there is a positive COVID case in student housing, alerts are sent out via email. The last alert was issued Jan. 28.

Students suspected of having COVID and those who have tested positive are relocated to a Waikiki hotel. Meals and other care are provided while they’re in isolation. The university also offers students in quarantine counseling via remote video chats with University Health Services.

To read more about the university’s guidelines, click here.

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