By Mike Sherr
As of Feb. 13, there have been 28 confirmed on-campus cases of Covid-19 since the beginning of the spring semester. These students have the option to either isolate at home or stay in an isolation room on campus. Those isolating on campus are having mixed experiences.
Townhouses West is being used to house students that both tested positive and New Residence Hall is used for students who have been deemed close contacts. Townhouses West can safely quarantine up to 200 students at a time and 131 close contacts can be housed in New Residence Hall. Even when considering the reduced amount of students that are currently living on campus, this many rooms may not be enough if the College faces a massive influx of Covid-19.
The Director of Housing, Director of Residential Education, Assistant Vice of Student Affairs and Business Manager said in an email to The Signal, “While we do not foresee this occurring…if there were to be a larger outbreak on campus resulting in high occupancy of quarantine and isolation housing, the College’s leadership, in consultation with local and state health departments, would make a determination if students should continue to live on campus.”
After a student tests positive, they have 90 minutes to move everything they need to their assigned isolation room. Those that are in isolation will stay there for 10 days and those that are quarantining – students that were in close proximity to those who tested positive – will be there for 14 days.
Once there, students can do as they please, as long as they do not leave their rooms for reasons other than going to the bathroom or picking up prescription medication delivered to the building’s door from a drug store like CVS or Walgreens.
One freshman who was placed into New Residence Hall, who has asked to remain anonymous, described their experience as “boring and kind of depressing.” They also said they were able to use the time to catch up with classes.
Not all students have been having the same experience. Through Facebook, students have been reporting that they found dirty rooms when they first entered isolation. Some students have also said they experienced late, wrong and undesirable dining orders.
To order a meal, students must scan a code on the mini-fridge that is provided and order what they want either from the Eickhoff Dining Hall or from a different menu that has meals usually eaten when one is sick.“Every night I would scan the link on my fridge,” the freshman told The Signal, “and I would order all three meals for the next day.”
Each meal has to be ordered before certain times through Sick Tray. This service is also only available during normal dining hours, so students will not be able to order meals whenever they want.
Via a post on Facebook, Tina Tormey, the Director of Residential Education, said that dining services aren’t getting as many orders as they should be. “We are finding that students are not (ordering)…either because they are forgetting or they decide not to.”
Being alone for a week and a half or two weeks can also take its toll on a student’s mental health. “Well I did feel alone,” the freshman who lived in New Residence Hall told The Signal, “but just knowing that I’ll be out soon was fine. Although no one was actually there, I FaceTimed people all the time.”
To help with mental stress when in isolation or quarantine, students can contact Mental Health Services for remote counseling.
All of the information students need to know about isolating and quarantining can be found in the Residential Student Guide to Isolation, Quarantine and Contact Tracing that was sent out to on-campus students before the semester, and is currently sent when a student is told to move into isolation or quarantine.
After a few days in isolation, students receive a gift bag full of snacks and puzzles paid for by the College’s Alumni Association. Once they’ve isolated for the given time, Student Health Services will contact students and allow them to return to residential life.