To take precautions against the spread of COVID-19, Southern Adventist University has quarantined students who have either come into possible exposure, reported symptoms on the daily health assessments or have been identified by contact tracing. Three students who were required to quarantine for a week and a half, all due to close-contact exposure, shared their varying quarantine experiences.
Sophomore social work major Angelina Jones said she received a text from a friend who had tested positive for coronavirus, and shortly after she received a phone call informing her that she had been exposed and would need to enter quarantine. According to Jones, she had about 30 minutes to go back to her dorm room and pack up her things.
“I actually got a good bit of time to pack up,” Jones said. “But I was kind of confused. I packed up and didn’t know who to call after, so I called the front desk. Then finally they got someone to come escort me to the third floor of Thatcher South, where she gave me some paperwork and told me what was happening.”
However, senior industrial organizational psychology major Luis Moreno and junior biology major Reyna Adame reported different, more stressful experiences when they were informed that they would need to quarantine. Moreno, who was off campus when he was informed of his exposure to someone in his class who tested positive, said the allotted time he was given was stressful.
“I had half an hour to come back [to campus] and get anything I could possibly need, and it was a very, very stressful time,” Moreno said. “Luckily, I was warned beforehand that I was going to be in quarantine, so I went out and bought everything I would need. But for somebody who’s running low on stuff, they have no opportunity to go and get stuff really quick before they’re forced into quarantine.”
Adame, who was also exposed to someone who tested positive, said her anxiety about packing her things began when she had to walk to the University Health Center (UHC) in the rain to receive information about her quarantine process. She said UHC personnel told her she would have 15 to 30 minutes to collect her things and move into her quarantine room in Thatcher South.
“It was very stressful,” Adame said. “I also had to walk back to my apartment in Southern Village, and I freaked out the entire time about what my life was going to look like for the next two weeks. I was basically prepared when it came to what I’d need for all my classes, but I only packed one pair of sweatpants in the rush of it all. I did get more pants later.”
According to Jones and Moreno, they both had a vague idea of what the quarantine process would entail, and said it was ultimately a learning process. Adame, on the other hand, said she went in blindly.
“I knew absolutely nothing going into quarantine except that I would not be able to go to class or see my friends,” Adame said. “There was a lot of confusion and questions that just had to be answered as the week went on.”
To receive their meals each day, Adame and Jones said they had to fill out forms to have their food delivered. According to Jones, she faced problems with the delivery of her meals.
“When they deliver you your lunch and breakfast, a lot of times the sauce would be everywhere,” Jones said. “Probably my biggest complaint was how haphazard they were in delivering things. But at the same time, they’re very consistent as much as they could be.”
Moreno faced different challenges with his food delivery. As a Southern Village resident, he said, he does not have a meal plan balance and was not made aware that he would have to pay for his meals during quarantine if they were provided by Southern.
“I had to ask friends to bring me food, so it was a constant process of trying to find someone that was free,” Moreno said. “So, Village students be warned [that] if you do not have a meal plan, they’re going to make you pay for the meals that they’re giving you. Be prepared for that, and try to figure out friends who can actually get you food if you don’t want to eat the cafe food.”
According to Adame and Jones, they both spent a lot of time on their phones calling and FaceTiming family and friends. Jones added that after she asked the deans when she would be able to get outside time, the deans organized hiking trips led by staff members so that those enclosed in their rooms could get fresh air. According to Moreno, he was not made aware of the option to go on walks until a nurse informed him three days into his quarantine, but he readily took the opportunity to spend time outside.
In the time between meals, Moreno said it was very hard to enjoy his free time in his room.
“I just watched TV and slept,” Moreno said. “I just was so unmotivated. I felt like I was stuck in prison and it was not a fun experience. It was terribly lonely. And I felt like every time I asked for something, I was inconveniencing people. It was just a really, really bad experience.”
Like Moreno, Adame said she struggled with a lack of productivity and loneliness, as the stress and emotional rollercoaster she experienced from being isolated from everyone was hard for her.
“I actually thought I’d be super productive because I was going to be alone with no distractions, but that is so far from the case,” Adame said. “You are by no means in an environment that induces productivity. I would pace a lot, and I don’t usually pace. But something about being trapped in a small room by myself made me pace a lot.”
However, both Adame and Jones said they found comfort in the fact that they both had windows that allowed them to see people other than the nurses and dorm personnel. Jones said her friends would come visit her at her outer facing window, which made her more appreciative of her support system.
“I’m really grateful for my time in quarantine,” Jones said. “That sounds horrible, but I actually got time to relax, which was the plus side of it. Also, I got to see how many people love me and care for me. My friends sent me things to cheer me up, came to my window to see me, and they were always checking in on me.”
Adame encouraged fellow students who may be wondering how to make their own, or their friend’s quarantine experience, more bearable to engage with their friends as much as possible to combat the loneliness.
“My window became my friend,” Adame said. “If your quarantined friend is in a room where the window faces outside, to a place where you can physically be, go visit them. You can send gifts to your quarantined friends if you know their room number. You don’t know how much it means to someone in quarantine to know you’re thinking of them.”