Resources available for students during break

During finals week and over winter break, food, housing, and health resources will still be available for students. 

Some resources include counseling, COVID-19 testing, laptop loans, and the Rams Resource Center. 

FSU President F. Javier Cevallos said, “We [the University] don’t really close during the winter break. We’re here. We have less people typically on campus, and now we’ll have even less people because of COVID-19. 

“There will always be somebody around here and we certainly look forward to supporting our students.” 

Cevallos added he is glad the University can provide resources for students remaining on campus during the winter break. 

He said, “I understand that spending the winter break away from family or staying on campus is a tough decision. It’s a decision that is based on personal reasons and we want to make sure that the students that are on campus during this time have access to all the things that we can provide that they need.” 

Student Trustee McKenzie Ward said FSU “has done a really amazing job at providing FSU students with resources this semester.”

Moving toward winter break, Ward advises students leaving campus to “remember that we are still in a pandemic.” 

She said, “I also recommend to students that they take the five weeks to rest and recharge because I know how hard this semester has been on every single student, and we deserve to spend those five weeks putting ourselves first.” 

Ward added, “If no one has told you this so far this semester, I am proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself, too!”

IGNITE President Rachel Spivey said, “The resources made available to students go beyond my first expectations coming into the new semester. Giving the opportunity to students to get no-cost COVID testing as often as every week, in my personal experience, has helped me gain a better sense of peace of mind in this crazy time. 

“Above all, the University seemed to really have sat down, identified the anticipated needs of the student body, and accommodated the resources available this semester to those needs,” Spivey added. 

COVID-19 testing

The Health Center will be providing free COVID-19 testing for the FSU community Dec. 15 and Dec. 21. 

According to Ilene Hofrenning, director of health services, testing typically takes place on Tuesdays. However, “the Governor has asked all college students to be tested within 72 hours of leaving campus.”

Hofrenning said there is a testing logistics team that is currently working on a testing schedule for winter break. 

She said, “We’re trying to figure out how many students are going to be living on campus, how many staff and faculty are going to be on campus, and then decide the testing based on that.

“So, it’s probably going to be weekly. I don’t know if we’ll do it the first week in January, but there will be testing available,” Hofrenning added. 

She said testing will also be available in the Health Center for those experiencing symptoms over winter break. 

Hofrenning said, “If someone has symptoms or if somebody has a contact and needs to be tested, we’ll be able to do that.” 

For the spring semester, Hofrenning said testing will increase for commuter students and those who were not tested weekly during the fall semester. 

She said, “We know that COVID-19 is in the communities that our commuter students live in. So, we want to increase testing. We’re still working on figuring out the logistics for how we do that.”

Hofrenning said although there is no official testing information yet for the spring semester, students can anticipate hearing testing timelines and protocols by the end of the fall semester. 

Students can sign up for a testing time slot through Medicat, a patient portal, found on the Health Center’s website. 

About the COVID-19 vaccine, Hofrenning said, “We just heard yesterday [Dec. 9] from the Governor about the vaccine plan. Students are going to be in the last phase, but that sounds like it’s going to be in the spring.

“So, we might be having a vaccination program on campus for students. So, stay tuned for that,” she added.”

Residence Life 

Residence Halls will be open in a limited capacity for those staying on campus during the winter break in order to host students who applied for full academic year housing. 

Miles Bibb Hall and Corinne Hall Towers will be open during break and staffed by resident assistants and security desk attendants. Linsley Hall will also be available should a student need to quarantine. 

Due to COVID-19, residence hall protocols in place currently include a no-guest policy, elevator-occupancy limits, face coverings required in all public areas, and a reduction in open lounges and common spaces. 

According to Stephanie Crane, associate director of residence life, approximately 10-15 students are currently planning to remain on campus during this period. 

Crane said the transition for resident students to return back to campus in January will look similar to the fall semester move-in. 

We’re going to set up time slots through our ResLife portal the same way we did in the fall so we can do a socially distanced and spaced move in,” said Crane.

She said Residence Life is reminding students that they don’t have to bring all of their belongings home over break.

Crane added returning students aren’t allowed to bring guests into the dorms to help move in, and should plan on only having a one-hour time slot.

She said Residence Life will send out information to resident students about the repopulating process sometime in early January so “folks can start planning and signing up for move-in time slots.”

Crane said a student’s housing contract is “binding,” but there is a petition process for those “who are currently in housing that want to leave housing.” 

The petition also serves students who are interested in becoming a resident after the housing application deadline. 

The Office of Residence Life and Housing is currently not open for in-person meetings, but those in need of assistance can contact the office Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at (508) 626-4636 or by emailing

Rams Resource Center

Kay Kastner, coordinator of student support initiatives, said the Rams Resource Center will still be accessible by appointment only during winter break. 

She said the center currently stocks shelf-stable food items, toiletries, and winter clothing including jackets, scarves, socks, and blankets.

Kastner said she works with students who have food, housing, and/or financial insecurities. She is also the primary contact for students who need to access emergency sources of funding and financial aid.

She said she runs a housing pilot program for students who are housing insecure. From homeless shelters to soup kitchens, she said there are various off-campus resources which she can connect students with as well.

Kastner added students should contact her “as early as possible” if they need assistance. 

Students who are experiencing hardship often cannot focus on their academic work, according to Kastner.

She said her office is “one of the more confidential offices here on this campus” for students seeking assistance. “I exercise an extraordinary amount of discretion,” she said. “Come have a conversation with me.

“We’re happy to do what we can to help students who are struggling,” she added.

Kastner said she works with the Dean of Students and Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, to provide students with academic resources, including laptop loaners and WiFi access.

Holloway said she has laptops, headsets, and earbuds available for students.

She said she began the semester with 70 available laptops, but now only has seven semi-new, 18 refurbished, and five Apple Macbooks, which are only available for certain courses due to their specific software. 

Holloway said the laptop loaner program loans out on a per semester basis, but there is an option to loan a laptop over winter break depending on a student’s specific need. 

She added those interested in the program need to fill out the required forms in advance. According to Holloway, students can choose to either pick up their laptops on campus or have them dropped off near their residence. 

Kastner said the best way to reach her office is to send her an email at She can also be reached by phone at (508) 626-4767.

Holloway can be reached at and by phone at (508) 626-4926. 

Dining Services

During finals week, Dining Services locations will continue operating during normal fall semester hours. 

Each dining location will continue to follow COVID-19 protocol. Online reservations will still be required for eating in the Dining Commons. 

Students can also place easy pick-up orders through the Transact Mobile Ordering App. 

According to Aretha Phillips, general manager of Dining Services, the Dining Commons will host a variety of special treats such as a hot chocolate bar, popcorn bar, and hot pretzels during finals week.

Phillips said her department is “just trying to add some fun at the end of the semester so that students can feel more comfortable and confident and get a stress reliever during their studying time.”

Current hours of operation for the Dining Commons can be found at

All Dining Services locations will be closed over winter break.

For resident students remaining on campus during the break period, Phillips said Dining Services is currently working with Residence Life to provide meal options, but at the time of publication, there is no finalized plan. 

Health and Counseling Center

Over winter break, the Counseling Center will remain open for Teletherapy appointments. 

According to Andrew Lipsky, director of the Counseling Center, the Center will be operating with a reduced staff over winter break, but there will still be a “definitive presence.”

He said, “We [the Counseling Center] can be accessed by ongoing students who are currently using our services, as well as students who haven’t used our services before and are looking to access our services for the first time.”

Lipsky said he expects the Counseling Center to see higher numbers over winter break than in previous years because they have moved to Teletherapy.

He said, “They [students] can access us without having to be on campus. They can access our services for the first time over winter break. We encourage them to get the support that they need.”

The Counseling Center’s office hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Teletherapy appointments can be made by calling (508) 626-4640 or by emailing

Counseling Center services are free to all FSU students.

For more information on counseling services, visit 

The Health Center will also operate as usual over the winter break period. 

Hofrenning said the Center will always be staffed with a nurse practitioner during break.

She said, “Services will still be available. So, even if students are at home and if they need something, they can contact us and we can help them.”

According to the Health Center’s website, some services include unlimited visits for health concerns/illnesses, referrals, prescriptions, and nutrition consultations.

Due to COVID-19, the Health Center is not accepting walk-in visits. Instead, they are offering telehealth and phone consultations during normal business hours. 

Students can access the Center’s patient portal, Medicat, through the following website

The Health Center is open remotely Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at (508) 626-4900.