A sweet-toned phone call masks dreaded news. During this fall semester, freshman students are beginning the college experience with an added stress: quarantine.
Freshman suitemates Chase Hollenkamp, global studies and economics major, and Aden Gill, biology major, were quarantined this past weekend. Hollenkamp was direct contact and will be quarantined on campus for the full fourteen days despite his negative test result.
Gill was not a direct contact and, due to the negative test results of his suitemates and roommate, only quarantined for four days.
“Whenever we got the call from the university, they asked us how we got exposed, but they were not demeaning at all,” Gill said.“They were really respectful and polite.”
Gill said he spent his time in quarantine studying for upcoming exams and working on homework. “It’s kind of nice to not have to do anything, but also, kind of stressful to worry about missing labs or exams,” he said.
“It’s weird because you’re not involved in class,” Hollencamp said.“I had a few professors send me lectures to watch, but mostly, it is just working to complete.”
Hollenkamp is spending his time in quarantine by catching up on work and watching Netflix. “I feel like I’m in bed or in a chair for 80% of the day,” Hollenkamp said.
Hollenkamp feels he has everything he needs to stay entertained for the remainder of his quarantine but is still fighting boredom.
Hollenkamp feels it would be easier to quarantine in the apartments. The university sent him food that can be microwaved, which he thought was very kind. However, he feels that it would be easier to cook food with a stove.
He said, “We can’t fit it all in our mini-fridges. It was a really nice amount of food they sent us.”
Besides quarantine, Gill described the semester as being more difficult for freshmen.“Everyone’s at college for the first time. It’s a big change,” Gill continued.“Professors are trying new things also, but hey, we’re surviving.”
Freshman Abby Provines, a sonography major, and freshman Mattison Wescher, a radiology major, were quarantined as potential direct contacts for four days in Sept. They both decided to quarantine on campus in their residence hall.
Provines and Wescher said their parents lived close and brought them the food they needed. They also had friends pick up meals they ordered through Grubhub and drop it off outside their door.
“We didn’t want to buy a $90 box of food,” Provines said, “It was not made clear in the email from the university that we could use meal swipes to buy the box.”
“I did homework all the time,” Provines said, “I had to give a speech over Zoom. It was honestly less nerve-racking than giving one in-person.”
Wescher said the thing she missed the most was the sunshine. “I would stare out the windows and think about what it was like to be outside,” Wescher said.
“Before we got quarantined, we took a lot of things for granted like going to the Loft and walking outside,” Provines continued. “It made us appreciate the little things.”
To keep their friends and family up-to-date on how their quarantine was going, Provines and Wescher started an Instagram page @mattiandabbysquarantine.
The girls shared an image of themselves each day and captioned it with how their day was going. Most of the posts said they were doing a lot of homework and were bored.
When given the option, freshman Lucas Brown, history major and secondary education licensure minor, decided to quarantine at home instead of on campus.
Brown was a direct contact with a friend who was symptomatic. He quarantined for a few days until the potential contact’s test result came back negative.
Brown felt the university was very kind in both the phone call telling him to quarantine and the email informing him he could leave quarantine.
“USI provided a good environment to feel comfortable talking about being in quarantine,” Brown said.
He did homework, spent time outside, watched TV, and experimented with protein shakes to stay busy during the quarantine.
“It was difficult to keep up with classes. Especially those that transitioned from completely in-person to online classes,” Brown said.
All five of the freshmen described life during quarantine as boring.
All students who test positive or are direct contact must quarantine. The Dean of Students defines direct contact as being less than six feet away from a COVID-19 positive person for more than 10minutes.
Students who test positive for COVID-19, if they decide to remain on campus, are relocated to a quarantine apartment space. Housing and Residence Life provide students who relocate with specific items that can be found on the university’s website.
Meal plans are charged for the food brought to students while they are in quarantine, according to the university’s website.
Student organizations such as USI Student Christian Fellowship drop off quarantine care packages at the doors of students who are quarantined.
The university provides students with what they need for quarantine life. The only thing they can not guarantee is that students will not be bored.