One-hundred-fifty students, 10 hours, two residence halls: the first day of Ohio State’s move-in started Wednesday morning at Smith-Steeb and Park-Stradley with the familiar red laundry carts being pushed with people wearing facemasks. 

Starting at 8 a.m., individual cars were greeted — at a safe physical distance — by a few volunteers in highlighter-yellow shirts. Red carts, already wiped down with sanitizer, were rolled toward the open trunks of cars as students stepped out of their vehicles.

“Welcome back!” a volunteer said, holding the door to the residence hall. 

Over the next 12 days, residence halls will open for move-in according to size, with larger halls opening first and staying open throughout the process, Dave Isaacs, spokesperson for the Office of Student Life, said. With two volunteer shifts per residence hall per day, Isaacs said there are about 800 volunteer shifts spanning the move-in process.

At each residence hall, up to nine students will move in at each residence hall per hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Masks are to be worn by everyone, carts are self-loaded and students are asked to have no more than two people with them inside the buildings. 

A man sanitizes carts used to move students into residence halls

Assistant Director of Dining Services Larry Moore sanitizes carts used to move students into residence halls. Credit: Jack Long | Managing Editor for Digital Content

Marty Schaefer, a second-year in psychology moving into Smith-Steeb, said move-in didn’t measure up the excitement of last year.

“It was more fun last year, the newness, the excitement, a lot more people were here to help,” Schaefer said. But he said he doesn’t mind the precautions, even with only one class in person.

Shaefer said he’ll spend his extra time on campus making the most of it he can while staying safe.

“I plan on safely capitalizing on any opportunity that’s given to me. Seeing people when it’s safe, doing online club sessions if I have to. Columbus is more conducive to a fulfilling and achieving environment,” Shaefer said. “I just want to enjoy what I can while i’m here, even if that’s not till December, so be it.”

Shaefer said he’s “expecting the worst and hoping for the best” with the university community returning to campus and residence halls amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With everything spiking everywhere else, I can’t imagine OSU is going to be unique and somehow cases will go down, infection rates will go down.”

Schaefer said the availability of weekly testing to on-campus residence at Ohio State is a “silver lining” among uncertainty. 

Quieter than last year’s move-in and much less crowded, Angie Kohler, mother of second-year student in health sciences Lauren Kohler, said preparation for this year’s move into Smith-Steeb was not very different from last year’s. 

“The move-in this year is much less congested, but even last year, even though it was so busy, everything ran smoothly,” Angie Kohler said. 

The first day of move-in comes after an email Tuesday evening from incoming University President Kristina M. Johnson announcing strengthened protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19. Included in the modifications are mandatory weekly testing of students living on campus and the requirement that face masks be worn outside at all times.

Angie Kohler said Lauren Kohler is used to the extra precautions due to COVID-19. As a state tested nursing assistant, Lauren Kohler worked at the bedside of COVID-19 patients over the summer and has been tested multiple times.

“It’s a lot more work when she comes home, keeping everything clean, but it can be done,” Angie Kohler said. “You just have to take the precautions. I feel we still need to live, we just need to take the precautions.”