Many colleges and universities across higher education use Roompact to facilitate their roommate and suitemate agreement process. Roompact Agreements includes customizable templates, the automatic distribution of agreements to specific resident groups, and agreement records that can be accessed and revised by both staff and students alike. Many institutions will customize their agreement templates in Roomapct’s software to fit with their unique institutional context and learning goals for students.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve noticed a change in some of the questions asked in these agreements. Many institutions have revised their agreement questions and terms to reflect the unique circumstances of navigating a roommate relationship during a pandemic. After researching this a bit further, we wanted to share emergent themes and examples of questions you may want to include in your own roommate and suitemate agreements.
Overall, many institutions mentioned COVID-19 in the introduction of their agreements and framed the agreement process as an opportunity to better understand how to comply with institutional, local, state and federal regulations as well as an opportunity to start a dialogue on how some of the guidelines will be lived in practice. The following themes also emerged in the individual questions posed in the agreements:
Many agreements included specific questions around maintaining cleanliness, what standard of cleanliness would be maintained, and who has what responsibility for maintaining this cleanliness. Many agreements referenced consulting CDC guidelines and included links to either the CDC website or an internal institutional website. Suitemate agreements had more extensive questions specifically relating to kitchens and bathrooms.
- How do we define “cleanliness” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How will we sanitize and disinfect high-touch surfaces to guard against COVID-19? And in what regularity? And who will be responsible?
- Who will procure cleaning supplies and what cleaning schedule will we maintain to ensure safety during COVID-19?
- How often will we clean high-touch surfaces (ex. light switches, refrigerator door, door knobs, temperature controls, etc.) to guard against COVID-19?
Agreements also mentioned quests and guest policies. A number of institutions did not allow guests at all. In these cases they often stated this and asked residents to check that they understood and agreed to comply. Other institutions had questions about guests (as would normally be in a roommate agreement) but specifically mentioned COVID-19.
- The University does not allow residents to have any guests, except other students, in their halls or rooms under COVID-19 precautions.
- When we do have other students over as guests, we will take the following extra precautions as a safety measure against COVID-19:
A number of agreements discussed behaviors including what happens if residents disagree about or take differing levels of precautionary measures and what happens if a roommate (or someone they were in contact with) is exposed to COVID-19.
- What are our expectations of each other related to COVID-19 and how will we address a roommate (or a community member) if they are not upholding CDC guidelines or community expectations? (ex. maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask etc.)
- How will we share concerns with one another if one of us feels unsafe or we are taking different levels of precaution?
- What expectations do we have for letting each other know about travel plans?
- What happens if one of our friends, acquaintances, or family members is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19? How should we communicate this?
Many agreements included some more general open-ended questions or encouraged residents to add their own additional terms to their agreement related to COVID-19. Roompact’s software enables administrators to change a setting to allow residents to generate and append their own terms to an agreement.
- Discuss and record your expectations of each other in order to maintain safety in light of COVID-19. (Topics could include: social distancing, mask wearing, cleaning practices, exposure in social gatherings, etc.)
- What extra precautions, if any, do we want to practice to reduce the risk of COVID?
At the end of many agreements there were a number of statements that asked residents to “Please check the box below indicating that you are aware of and agree to abide by this policy.” These policies often included specific institutional COVID-19 guidelines that were sometimes detailed in depth within the agreement or linked to.
- I will abide by all college policies related to safely returning to campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- I have read and understand institutional COVID-19 policies related to guests, social gatherings on or off campus, and physical distancing.