Care for isolated and quarantined students

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Photo by Lauren Hill

With a total of 15 Irving students having tested positive for COVID-19 since University of Dallas’ August reopening and many more put under quarantine, the university’s plan to care for students is fully underway.

Alongside the Groundhog Pledge at the beginning of the semester, UD released a list of statements on their website detailing specific measures that would be undertaken in the event of students contracting the coronavirus, including protocols for contact tracing and placing students under quarantine and isolation.

“Meals and health care services will be provided while the student is isolated. Students who are isolated with COVID-19 will be closely monitored to ensure their needs are being met and to monitor their recovery process,” reads the COVID-19 Management and Containment section under “Campus Reopening.”

At least 10 days must pass since coronavirus symptoms first appear for symptomatic cases to be classified as ‘recovered’. For asymptomatic cases, re-entry into campus life will be permitted only after 14 days since the last positive test result.

UD Health Services have been expanded and partially merged with the Office of Student Affairs in efforts to track and contain potential viral outbreaks, as well as taking care of quarantined and isolated individuals.

The UD case report defines a student who requires isolation as any individual “who tests positive COVID-19 and is separated from others.” Individuals who require quarantine have been “known to be exposed” to the virus, although they may test negative, and must wait out the incubation period.

Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham shed some light on the role OSA played in an email response.

“If a student is in isolation on campus, we deliver meals, water, and snacks to their room three times a day. We also assist with laundry for isolated students, and provide linens and some other necessary supplies in isolation rooms.”

Sophomore Sam LiMandri rooms with a student that tested positive for the virus two weeks ago. Immediately upon being notified of his roommate’s result, he was tested by the health clinic. Even though he was negative, LiMandri was put under a 14-day quarantine in Clark Hall on Oct. 5.

In a virtual interview from his quarantine room on Oct. 16, LiMandri recalled going through the coronavirus protocols.

“My roommate tested positive the weekend prior,” he said. “[My other roommate and I] were required to be tested that same day.”

“We both tested negative, but we were told that science shows that the virus has a two-week incubation period, so we could actually be carrying the virus.”

LiMandri recounted his multi-week stay in Clark and commented on the way the university upheld their pledge to take care of student needs throughout the quarantine.

Food would be delivered three times a day, seven days a week. In Clark, breakfast, lunch and dinner were served at specific times that the students were informed of through email. Quarantined students were allowed to leave their rooms to get these packages, which were left in the lobby in square white cardboard boxes. Isolated students, however, had their food delivered directly to their rooms, usually by an OSA member or an RA.

Some students noticed these boxes in the lobby of Clark and wondered about their purpose or origin.

Sophomore Peter Kelly at first believed the boxes to be free food.

“I got excited because I thought I was finally going to be able to eat something other than [cafeteria] food, until I learned that they were, in fact, also cafeteria food,” Kelly joked.

LiMandri clarified that those boxes were only for the quarantined students since meals for the isolated students were delivered directly. Sometimes, the boxes left in the Clark waiting area were not taken.

“We weren’t under any obligation or anything to take the food, it was just provided as a courtesy… sometimes I skipped those meals and just ordered UberEats,” he admitted.

LiMandri highlighted the particular efforts of the health clinic at keeping in touch with the students, specifically praising Health Center Contact Tracer Kathleen Stansbury.

“She would call us up, just to see how our days were going, kind of hinting at, ‘How is your mental health doing, your mental state?’ ” he said. “[She was] keen on asking us about, ‘ Are your teachers treating you fairly given that you just switched to online?’ ”

One student, junior Ryan Flores contracted the virus and spent 10 days in isolation in Clark.

Recalling the process he was taken through, he also lauded the health center for their efficiency and dedication.

“The clinic, I can say for sure, did a really good job, just pushing out tests and doing everything they can to get results out,” he said. “They did some excellent work.”

Perhaps 30 minutes elapsed after he was tested, and was subsequently informed that he had received a positive result. From there, Dean of Students Julie Carrano told him that he would be in isolation for 10 days after a quick check-up. He was then able to return to his room and retrieve his belongings and move into his new room.

His experience differed slightly from LiMandri’s, however, when it came to his extended stay in Clark.

As opposed to quarantined students, who were allowed small breaks to exercise on the rugby field, isolated students weren’t able to leave their rooms at all. Flores would hear a knock at his door three times a day, sig- naling that his food had arrived. However, he maintained that the deliverers would stay and make sure he got his food and that his other needs were being met.

“They did a really good job of asking [if I needed anything],” Flores said. For instance, when he ran out of toilet paper, he was pleased to find a new pack of rolls alongside his next meal.

While living alone for over a week was certainly eerie and a bit lonesome, Flores, along with LiMandri, appreciated Stansbury’s efforts to ease the malaise of isolation.

“Oh, [Kathleen] was amazing, always checking in on me and making sure I was getting all I needed. I felt like she really was looking out for my well-being.”

While the entire ordeal was at times hard to weather, students agreed that it was necessary and that the university proceeded the way it should.

“The experience as a whole has not been fun, and I would never want to do it again, but … I believe [the university] acted accordingly given the situation,” acknowledged LiMandri.

The university continues to monitor the progress of any outbreaks on campus and has issued a mandatory retesting of all resident students. The health center has extended the deadline for retesting until Tuesday, Oct. 20.

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