MISSOULA — The University of Montana was buzzing Wednesday as students began moving back to campus for the fall semester.
But as to be expected, the move-in process and housing in general will look a lot different this year.
Throughout the coming week, students will set up camp at the University of Montana in one of its eight residence halls. What's been a ghost town since March will soon look a lot more like the college campus that it is.
"And we ended without being able to say really goodbye to our students in the spring semester. So I'm just incredibly excited that students are going to be coming back," UM Housing and Community Standard Executive Director Sandy Curtis said.
As excited as UM staff like Curtis may be for the return of students, housing will see some major changes this year
"One of the first things that we actually took a look at is how can we reduce the density on each one of our floors in the residence halls," Curtis said.
A floor that has capacity to hold 40 students will only house 30 students this year.
"The second thing is really to look at how, what is our cleaning protocol and what are we doing, so our staff will be continuously flaming throughout the day and bathrooms in all high-touch areas in order to help with all of that within our residence halls," Curtis added.
Even the move-in process itself has been modified.
"Normally we bring students in pretty much on the same day, when we do check in and this year we'll actually be doing a staggered checking for our students," Curtis said.
Students will slowly work their way onto campus until classes begin next Wednesday, eliminating a lot of the chaos you normally see during one big move day.
"And finally, we actually ask students to ship items in advance," Curtis said. "So, our office has seen a tremendous amount of packages coming in, refrigerators, all sorts of different packages and our staff has been busy actually over the course of this last month of actually delivering those packages to each one of their rooms."
The housing staff has worked tirelessly since March to put students in the safest possible position for living on campus.
Now, Curtis says the responsibility belongs to the students themselves.
"We can put all the signage up in the world, we can put up our Plexiglas barriers," Curtis said. "We can (use) our signs on the floor (saying) please stay six feet away but unless everybody does their part, it's not going to work."
UM Housing staff say they were fortunate to not have to turn anyone away from living on campus and they even have extra space for students who may need to quarantine during the semester.