When some college students head back to school this fall, they won’t be moving into dorms — they’ll be moving into hotels.
Several universities across the U.S. are renting blocks of hotel rooms to house students in an effort to reduce crowding in university residences and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Hotels started reaching out to universities in the spring as they determined their business needs for the months to come, USA Today reported. Hilton has a dozen agreements either finalized or in-process, according to the outlet. Wyndham wouldn’t confirm how many schools it’s working with, but said it is also in the process of finalizing agreements, USA Today reported.
Universities in the Boston area including Suffolk, Northeastern and Boston University as well as the New England Conservatory are all planning to book rooms at area hotels for students, WBZ reported.
Hyatt, DoubleTree, Westin and Wyndham hotels in the area all have deals in the works and some may devote entire floors to students, according to the outlet.
“This not only provides the safest possible setting for returning students to Suffolk University, but it also gives the hotel industry, which is really struggling, a boost,” John Nucci, vice president of external affairs, told the outlet.
Suffolk University has rented 473 rooms for students between three hotels, Inside Higher Ed reported. At both Suffolk and Northeastern, students won’t be “charged more than on-campus, university-owned housing rates,” according to the outlet.
That rate is $7,280 per semester at Suffolk, Inside Higher Ed reported.
The U.S. Air Force and Xavier University of Louisiana are also renting hotel rooms for students, along with University of Pittsburgh which is using several hotels near campus to house some of its roughly 6,000 residence hall students, The Post-Gazette reported.
“Meeting both of these goals — providing space for everyone who wants it and following the public health guidelines on de-densification — was a significant challenge,” vice chancellor for business services, Matthew Sterne, told the newspaper.
Officials estimate it will cost the school $22 million, according to the Post.
The hotel residences will be operated like on-campus housing and have 24-hour security as well as a resident assistant and director, according to the Post-Gazette.
When officials at Xavier University of Louisiana decided that each student would have their own room to prevent coronavirus transmission, they found they needed an extra 600 rooms beyond the 1,400 on campus, USA Today reported.
After visiting 15 hotels, the school landed on the Hilton Riverside and rented two of its three towers, according to the outlet.
Kathy Spiegelman, vice president and chief of campus planning and development at Northeastern University, said that housing arrangements with hotels aren’t going to stop the spread of COVID-19 themselves, but serve as an important piece of universities’ coronavirus response plans, Inside Higher Ed reported.
“None of these things will be sufficient in isolation, but together — particularly the robust testing and contact tracing — we’re very optimistic that we’ll have a good year for the students,” she told the outlet.