The Quarantine Diaries: What Needs to Change

Liz Foster ’22

Managing Editor

Hey, it’s me. I’m in quarantine, remember? Yeah. So here we are. As I enter into my second week of sitting in my bedroom for the entire day, I’ve noticed a few flaws in the system that’s supposedly keeping myself and my peers safe and healthy.

On Sunday, as per usual, I was starving until lunchtime. I was ecstatic to meander over to the quarantine meal tent behind Mather, but discovered upon my arrival (at 12:40 p.m., within the time span during which meals are provided) that there was no food. No one, neither faculty member nor student, was there to hand out the designated packaged meals for quarantined students. I departed around 12:50 p.m., the end of the quarantine lunch period, without a meal. Another student mentioned that an incident of this kind had occurred previously and I found myself aghast. 

Students in quarantine are instructed to only leave their individual bedrooms for three reasons: using the restroom, attending mandatory COVID-19 testing, and picking up lunch and dinner. Those in quarantine are discouraged from ordering UberEats to avoid potentially transmitting the virus to the greater Hartford population and are restricted from swiping into Mather or the Bistro. Some students are fortunate and have non-quarantined roommates who can bring them food, but not all are afforded this privilege. Due to the College’s negligence, several students have been left without food. 

When telephoned by COVID-19 contract tracers, one is informed of their quarantine status, questioned on any other potential contacts to the COVID-19 positive individual, and instructed on how to isolate properly for the next two weeks. However, on my phone call I was given unclear information on how suitemates should proceed. Given that suitemates share bathrooms and interact in common spaces, should they not receive guidance on how to properly conduct themselves following another’s condemnation to isolation? My suitemates elected to quarantine until all of us received two negative test results in a row, but this decision was made on our own accord. Other rooms may elect to simply go to class and socialize as normal despite living with someone who is potentially carrying the virus. If this unclear instruction continues, the College’s recent uptick in COVID-19 cases will only grow further.

Key card access, or rather lack thereof, is similarly confusing. My ID was rejected at Mather when one of my suitemates attempted to use one of my meal swipes but worked normally when it was used in the laundry room of my dorm. Curious to see the limitations of my key card, I attempted to unlock a door to the C section of Jarvis and was able to, despite my living in a suite inaccessible through that entrance. Though all of Jarvis constitutes the residential community, card access for all entrances when one is in quarantine seems egregious and unnecessary. 

The most pressing issue I’ve experienced as a result of the College is the severe anxiety between my COVID-19 tests and receiving the results. Though I’ve now exited the hotzone of corona incubation without testing positive, each time I waited for an email or CoVerified notification over the past week I was riddled with anxiety. Every moment my phone lit up I was convinced it was a call from the Health Center saying to pack my bags. Though it’s impossible to promise a student exactly when their test result will come in, the discrepancy in receiving results is a massive stressor on students already put in the mentally exhausting position of quarantining. While I, the most high-risk person in my room, waited for my results, the rest of my suitemates rejoiced in negative tests. Providing students with even a rough estimate of when to anticipate their test results would aid in alleviating this anxiety. 

No institution of higher learning was adequately prepared to return to “normalcy” in the age of corona. Expecting Trinity to have a proper response to the coronavirus when more financially stable, alumni-backed schools like Harvard University have chosen to wait until spring for in-person classes was naïve. As I sit in bed for the eighth day in a row with one of my twice daily provided Aquafina bottles, I ask you all to wear your mask, be safe, and don’t be stupid. The College, quite literally, cannot care for all of us.

bclark

Brendan W. Clark '21 is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Trinity Tripod, Trinity College's student newspaper.

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