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AC upgrades, dorm protocols in place to increase COVID safety

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Abelina Nuñez
Social Media Editor

The University of La Verne has updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC, systems in all the dorm buildings to meet COVID standards.

Jason Miller, assistant vice president of facilities, development and operations for the University, said that all air conditioning filters were upgraded to HEPA and Merv-13 filters, which are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the best for any contaminated air.

The air filtration updates mean air is replaced with filtered outside air eight times per hour, twice the recommended rate, Miller said.

This means it may be a little warmer in the dorms, based on the current hot weather, but the community should know the AC is working, Miller said.

Lisa Lester, associate director of housing, sent an email Aug. 19 to residents about COVID-19 regulations for HVAC systems and how all AC units have to be set up to circulate fresh air into rooms, even in the warmer months, which may lead to the rooms to feel hotter than usual.

In that email, Lester told the residents not to open their windows, as it will ultimately work against the goal of cooling down the space, bringing in a fan in case the room may be uncomfortable due to it being hot.

“When someone says that the HVAC is not working, the HVAC team will go look at the computer system and see what is going on,” Lester said in a recent interview. “We need to remember that these buildings haven’t been in use the way they normally are, and sometimes when that happens after years, you’ll see new things come up just because they haven’t been working to the capacity the way they’ve been working in the past.”

Housing requires residents to wear their masks when out of their own rooms and not allow outsider visitors in the halls. If students are in the lounge by themselves or with others, then they must wear their mask.

Carina Baca, Citrus Hall resident assistant and senior psychology and creative writing major, said that housing and the RAs are enforcing the no outside visitors rule by reminding residents of it, and also by getting to know their residents – so they can recognize outside guests. Baca said residents who bring in guests will be written up for breaking the rule.

“Right now, due to COVID and the Delta variant, we are asking that no outside visitors are in the halls,” Lester said. “It’s a policy that we had throughout summer (and) through this semester,” Lester said. “That policy may change as time goes on, … but for now, the policy is only residents are allowed within the residence hall.”

Baca said residents who do not comply with the regulations for housing established based on the Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health Guidelines for safe return, will have a conduct meeting with a housing supervisor, which will determine future consequences.

Before residents were allowed to move into any of the dorms, they signed the Residential Life COVID-19 Agreement confirming that they understand the risks associated with communal living during the COVID-19 pandemic and agree to abide by ULV policies designed to mitigate COVID-19 risks. Students were also required to send in a copy of their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to make sure that all residents are vaccinated.

“Our motto is that if we could get students to understand that your part of a community and a community’s well-being is to ultimately benefit your own personal well-being, that’s the ultimate goal,” Lester said.

​​Eugene Shang, director of residential life and student conduct, added that the housing rules are for everybody else’s protection.

“It’s all about the understanding that we live in a community,” Shang said. “We have to think like a community and look out for each other’s well-being. We’re trying to make sure people are being able to stay and enjoy the experience of being here.”

Abelina Nuñez can be reached at abelina.nunez@laverne.edu.

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