On-campus study spaces, library lockers expand academic support

By Joshua Hernandez, April 27, 2021

Cal Poly Pomona launched its new on-campus study space program on April 5, the latest in a series of services meant to accommodate students enduring distance learning. As students wait for on-campus classes to return, they can now reserve a seat in lecture rooms 1001 and 1002 in the College of Business Administration.

However, this opportunity is not a permanent service; reservations will only be available Monday through Thursday from noon to 7:30 p.m., and Friday from 1 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., and the last day to reserve a seat is May 31.

Christina Gonzales, vice president of Student Affairs, said the idea for the study spaces was first pitched in fall 2020 in case COVID-19 restrictions eased in the future. It became clear to Gonzales and other staff members that the program had potential after they noticed students were still coming to campus to do their work.

“What I could anticipate is that once things started changing, it might be fast, and if we waited until it changed, then it could take us a month to have to go find space, to have to figure out how we would do it, and putting all the precautions in place,” Gonzales said. “That then wouldn’t serve our students, because then it would just take us longer, we’d be reactive, so I was attempting to be as proactive as we could be in thinking about it.”

To reserve a study space, students must complete two brief online courses: COVID-19 Safer Return Training for Students and Working Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic for Students.

Completing both courses takes about 30 minutes with the material outlining the importance of social distancing, the proper way to wear a mask, washing one’s hands regularly and cleaning high-contact surfaces constantly.

It also stresses the importance of using those four techniques together to reduce the spread, as well as acknowledging that each student has a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19.

From there, students can apply for reservations by completing a study space interest form, which will ask if the applicant has a distraction-free area at home to work. Because there are roughly 30 seats available per room at any given time, those who receive and review the interest forms must make sure the students applying truly need a quiet place to work.

According to Leticia Gutierrez-Lopez, associate vice president of Student Health and Wellbeing and the leader of the Safer Return Incident Investigation Team, if a student should be denied a space, they may apply again.

“We have plenty of spaces left for students, so we’d love to get our students in there,” Gutierrez-Lopez said.

If approved, the email response will contain a link to the reservation website, which has a daily timetable with every reservation listed, alongside each available time at which a seat is available.

After selecting and confirming a time and seat, students complete a health screening the day of their reservation prior to arriving on campus.

While the rooms can only hold 50 people at a time, patrons who successfully place reservations have the luxury of doing their schoolwork in a peaceful and quiet lecture hall, emulating the traditional college atmosphere before COVID-19 ravaged the world.

Students who reserve a seat are also entitled to free study kits complete with pens, paper, hand sanitizer and face masks, as well as a free lunch courtesy of Centerpointe Dining Commons in Building 72.

“We could see that there was possibly a need and, honestly, we weren’t sure how many students would want to take advantage of it,” Gonzalez said. “That is why we were starting a little bit smaller.”

To keep the rooms quiet, study spaces are presided over by a study space monitor who also confirms reservations. Additionally, they clean the study space twice a day to ensure the rooms are properly disinfected for students.

For students interested in applying to be a Study Space Monitor, it’s a seasonal job that pays $16 an hour, and those hired are eligible to receive a COVID vaccine.

In addition to the on-campus study spaces, students can check out physical library books again as early as April 19 from the University Library. To maintain social distancing, the library will be installing what will be called the Bronco Lockers 24/7 by the south end of the Bronco Bookstore.

This location is also close by the parking lot off Kellogg Drive, meaning students can drive straight to the lockers once they are installed.

Sylvia Alva, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said it was the idea of Library Dean Pat Hawthorne, who envisioned a safer, more convenient way for students to pick up materials from the campus.

“This contactless locker approach allows us to very safely put these things in a secure location, send the student a code, and then they can access it without having to interact with another individual,” said Alva.

Hawthorne said to place orders, students can log in to their library accounts and search the online library catalog for materials.

After the library staff receives a check-out request, students will receive an email confirmation for their request, and a second email with a QR code once their order is placed within a locker. Students can stop by anytime to pick up their materials, so long as they scan their QR code or input the numerical password on the iPad attached to the locker.

According to Hawthorne, the materials for the lockers and the licenses were bought from Luxer One, a Sacramento-based company, using funds from the library’s collections budget, approximately $1.4 million.

However, Hawthorne also said the campus is considering reimbursing the library for the locker’s cost through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, since the library implemented them as a response to the pandemic.

Hawthorne also said unlike other California State University campuses which have also implemented library lockers, the Bronco Lockers 24/7 are unique because the library has partnered with the bookstore and graphic services, meaning students can also pick up orders from those services as well.

These contactless lockers will be accessible 24/7, even after the campus reopens, giving students flexibility in deciding when to pick up their materials.

According to Hawthorne, there are 39 lockers in total, with sizes ranging from small, medium and large; what size students receive will depend on how many books they check out.

“Cal Poly students are really hard-working students, and our goal is to make sure that we help them by providing the space and the tools they need to get through classes and graduate,” Hawthorne said.

If students have any questions about the on-campus study spaces or the Bronco Lockers 24/7, they can send them to healthscreener@cpp.edu and library@cpp.edu respectively.

Feature image Joshua Hernanzez | The Poly Post

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