This page outlines the latest updates to College Houses’ COVID-19 response. College Houses has taken many steps to respond to the coronavirus, but this page will focus on key information needed by members with an active membership and by people considering applying for membership.

If, after reading this page, you have further questions or a unique situation that you would like to discuss in more detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Please see our contact page and find the most appropriate contact for your question.

Leasing Office Availability

Our leasing office is now open to in-person visitors Monday through Friday from 12 PM to 6 PM. We request that members seeking help from staff other than quick, routine visits email that staff member to make an appointment before arriving. Masks are required in the leasing office.

Please note that almost all leasing office services can be accessed remotely by email and phone. This includes making payments, replacing keys, answering questions, and resolving membership issues.

COVID-19 and Co-op Living

College Houses has consistently made operational changes in order to keep our living environment healthy, safe, and compliant with COVID-19 guidelines and best practices. However, like all housing providers, College Houses cannot prevent you from becoming exposed to, contracting, or spreading COVID-19. Please be aware that members of College Houses will be living and working together, which may involve risk of exposure to COVID-19.

How We Reduce COVID-19 Risks

College Houses has a general organizational plan that all cooperatives are expected to follow. In addition, each house has created its own COVID-19 policies and procedures that supplement and add house-specific details to the central policy. Some of the policies you and your housemates develop may be more restrictive than public health guidelines or organizational guidelines, and you will still be expected to follow those protocols. Remember, co-ops are democratically managed, and respecting community decisions is an important part of co-op living.

The most effective way to reduce COVID-19 risks is for members to get vaccinated and boosted. College Houses encourages all members to get vaccinated as a way to protect themselves and others, and to allow our co-ops to continue resuming normal operations.

Organization Risk Assessment Chart (A reference guide for how our operations change based on the City of Austin’s 5-stage guidelines)

College Houses is committed to the following actions to support sanitation efforts.

  • College Houses will continue to support house officers in ensuring all necessary PPE and sanitizing products are available.
  • All Kitchen Managers and cooks are required to take an on-line food safety course.
  • We will continue to maintain and provide up-to-date information on the virus via email, house officers, and other communication channels.
  • The College Houses Board of Directors and staff will continue to monitor the changing situation and adjust operations as necessary.

Expectations for Members & House Communities

Members also have a responsibility to maintain and protect their living environment. This includes:

  • Maintaining diligent labor schedules that include extra cleaning of high-touch areas when necessary.
  • Working with your community to develop and update standard house protocols.
  • Developing processes for communication/notification if a member becomes ill. Staff must be notified immediately if a member tests positive for COVID-19.

Monitoring and Consequences

While we expect serious violations to be rare, our policies do allow for enforcement of our health and safety guidelines. College Houses categorizes COVID-19 guideline violations as violations of our Harassment Policy.

If you observe people not following guidelines, the first step should be to reminder them in the moment. If a gentle reminder doesn’t correct the situation, an incident report can be submitted to the leasing office to document the violation.

If an incident report is submitted and substantiated:

  • First Offense: House officer(s) or staff will make contact with the member to talk through the violation.
  • Second Offense: An eviction notice will be issued to the offending member, as they are putting the community in imminent physical harm.

Once again, if you have further questions or a unique situation that you would like to discuss in more detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Please see our contact page and find the most appropriate contact for your question. Thank you!