The thought of quarantining on campus has been a daunting one for Haverford students ever since they arrived. Whether it is the idea of spending two weeks in the dystopian-looking trailers blocking the Apartments, the fear of eating only cold food, or the thought of having no one to talk to while the rest of the community is going about its socially distanced day-to-day-life, no one wants to quarantine.
But what really happens in isolation? Is it really as bad as students expect? How does one even go from being a free Haverford student to one doomed to spend two weeks in isolation?
There are two reasons that students must isolate for two weeks. One, they tested positive for COVID-19. Two, they were identified as a close contact of a student that tested positive for COVID-19. Both COVID-positive students and their close contacts have to isolate for two weeks. No exceptions. Any student that tests positive must quarantine for at least two weeks and can only leave once they test negative.
Campus Safety reaches out to a COVID-positive student as soon as their test comes back positive. Then, the student must immediately pack up their things and go to their quarantine location.
Meanwhile, students who are named close contacts do not receive a visit from Campus Safety, but rather a much-dreaded email that reads:
Hello [Name of Student],
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
You have been identified as a close contact and will need to transition to an isolation space as soon as possible. Please return to your room and pack belongings/clothes/supplies for 14 days. Avoid close contact with others en route to your room and remain masked. As soon as you are ready to be transition[ed] to an isolation space, please contact Campus Safety. They will confirm next steps.
Please confirm receipt of this email as soon as you receive it.
Take good care and please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions.
Students who receive this email quickly pack up their things—“I prioritized my coffee machine,” said Rocco Sotero ’24—and then head to the apartments for their two-week sojourn in HCA 804, 808, or 812. Some students have to wait outside for several minutes before Campus Safety hands them their key and assigns them an apartment, while others are immediately let into their designated isolation spaces. Then, they’re stuck there for two weeks.
Upon entrance to their apartment, students find a bag full of toiletries like soap and a toothbrush, a set of fresh sheets and towels, and flyers that outline the support available for students in isolation. These include individual therapy, OAR-virtual academic coaching, and help from more specialized resources and community-based organizations.
Three times a day, brown paper bags full of food are dropped off at each student’s door. Breakfast can consist of cereal, milk, and juice, while lunch and dinner are “anything that’s grab-and-go from the Coop or the DC,” said Sotero.
As for what students do to pass the time: “A whole bunch of nothing!” said Anagha Aneesh ’24, who quarantined from November 7 to November 19 in HCA 804. Other students said that Netflix, Among Us, and crossword puzzles were entertaining options as well. One student even ran six miles back and forth in his living room!
“I feel like this is something [administrators] were really prepared for and it showed… They’ve been really transparent working with us to find what our situation is,” said Aneesh.
Even though the prospect of quarantining on campus may still seem scary, there are some silver linings. For Sotero, at least it was “a change of setting.”