My Time in Quarantine

Since the start of the semester I have wondered what happens to students who have to quarantine—then it happened to me. I’ve been careful during my time on campus. I didn’t go to any parties and have only hung out with a small group of people. But, I knew if any of my close friends got COVID-19, I would probably get it too, and that’s exactly what happened. 


My friend called me at 7 p.m. on August 21 to say that he tested positive that day. He told me that I would probably be getting an email or call from Health Services soon about quarantining because he had informed them that we had spent time together recently. At the time I was more worried about him than myself because he had already spent a week by himself in isolation and would now have to isolate for another ten days. 


I knew that because I live in a dorm with community-style bathrooms, I would be moved to another location. I assumed it wouldn’t take long for them to contact me as I had heard stories of other students having to move to hotels and apartments late at night. But this was not the case. 


I received no contact from anyone over the weekend. Eventually, my friend reached out to Health Services again to make sure they were aware that he tested positive and had possibly exposed me, and was told the situation was being handled. I avoided leaving my room all weekend because of the possibility that I did have COVID-19. 


On August 24, I filled out a Report It form at 9 a.m. explaining that I was exposed to someone with COVID-19 and asking for direction, and by 2 p.m. I received a call from Residential Living and Learning and was told that I would be moving to the Courtyard Marriot that day. I packed everything essential: enough clothes to get by, books for classes, my favorite pillow, some snacks, and some books so I wouldn’t go insane trying to pass time in isolation. 


At 4 p.m. I made my trek to the Marriott with my suitcase and backpack. I honestly felt a little ridiculous walking through downtown with all of my stuff in 90 degree heat, but once I finally got to my room after getting my key from the front desk I was amazed at how nice the room was—I had two full-sized beds, a huge shower, and a mini fridge. This was certainly an upgrade from my dorm where I shared a bathroom with fifteen other people.


Once I finished settling in I started wondering how food delivery worked. I didn’t know when food was delivered and how often, so at 6 p.m. I called Public Safety to see if dinner would be delivered to my room. I was told that the kitchen was already closed, so they didn’t know if I would be able to get food that late, but they would send my name to the person in charge. I didn’t hear anything until almost three hours later when I got a text from Residential Living and Learning suggesting that I order Domino’s using my Hatterbucks and have it delivered to me. 


Luckily, I brought some snacks with me so I was fine for the night and breakfast the next morning. I understand that food delivery is difficult with students so spread out between campus and the hotels, but it was frustrating that no one realized that I would need food that night and that it took so long for them to come up with some semblance of a solution. 


When I did end up getting my food, I got three meals delivered each day at noon. One of the meals was hot from the G8 station in the dining hall, and the other two were prepackaged meals from the Coffee Shop that I would store in my fridge for dinner and breakfast the next day. The highlight of the week was when I got chocolate pudding for dessert. On my second day they made the mistake of giving the students quarantining at my hotel a breakfast meal that was meant to be heated in the microwave because they were under the impression that we had microwaves in our hotel rooms. When they realized we didn’t, they quickly fixed their mistake and delivered some yogurt and muffins that we could keep in our refrigerators. 


I didn’t receive any contact from the university for the next two days. In such a short period of time I had been told to quarantine and moved my life to a hotel, but once that was over I felt like I was just left to figure everything out alone. I just kept thinking: “now what?” My biggest question was about when my time in quarantine would be over, but communication was unclear: one person from Residential Living and Learning told me it would be two weeks from August 24, but the last time I was with my friend who tested positive was August 14. 


On August 26 I was called by an athletic trainer to do contact tracing. She asked me very detailed questions regarding everywhere I had been over the past week, when I had been there, and who I had been with. Trying to rack my brain to remember what time I went to the post office and the library was difficult, but I did my best to be as specific as possible because contact tracing is essential to slowing the spread. 


By my fifth day quarantining at the hotel, Health Services called me and said that I had been cleared and I was free to return to campus and go about my life as normal. I was relieved that I didn’t have to spend any more time in quarantine. As nice as the huge shower was at the hotel, I missed seeing my friends and being able to eat what I wanted for dinner.


Overall, the experience I had wasn’t terrible, but I know other people may have had a much different experience than mine, where they have even had to wait a lot longer than I did to have food delivered. Most shocking was how every time I was contacted by someone from the university about my situation, it was a different person from a different department. The isolation program isn’t being handled by one department. I spoke to people from Health Services, Residential Living and Learning, Public Safety, and the Athletic Department, which I think hindered the efficiency and communication that is needed to adequately take care of so many students. 


As a note to students: you can affect other people’s lives by not following Stetson’s COVID-19 policies; they’re in place to keep us safe. I did my best to avoid getting infected and followed these policies, and I still was exposed and had to drop everything to protect other people. If every individual in the Stetson community doesn’t actively work to slow the spread of coronavirus, cases will continue to rise and everyone will eventually have to take their turn in quarantine.