As classes begin and students embrace the in-person experiences of the fall semester, the University of Rochester has reestablished its quarantine and isolation plan to ensure that every undergraduate who needs to enter into this space is cared for and comfortable. With new variants, breakthrough COVID-19 infections for those who are vaccinated are rare, but still possible, and therefore the University continues to provide quarantine and isolation housing in effort to contain all infections and limit the spread of illness.
What to know about going into quarantine and isolation (Q/I) housing
First, all students are reminded to call University Health Service (UHS) at (585) 275-1160 if experiencing COVID-related symptoms, and complete Dr. Chat Bot every day when going on campus.
Any fully vaccinated or unvaccinated River Campus or Eastman School of Music undergraduate who tests positive for COVID will spend up to 10 days from start of symptom date in isolation at the Whipple Park apartments, or possibly a Rochester-area hotel where the University has pre-arranged accommodations. Whipple Park is a complex of apartments and townhouses ordinarily serving graduate students and their families and located about a mile from the River Campus.
Roommates of those who test positive will also be contacted, however in accordance with CDC guidance, vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine if they come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID; vaccinated individuals may still be advised to get tested.
Students headed into isolation space at Whipple Park may to be matched with an apartment-mate they don’t know. Pairing students like this is one way to ensure there is enough isolation housing available for all students who may need it. The Whipple Park apartments have separate private bedrooms, and a shared bathroom, living room, and kitchen. Being matched with another COVID-positive student does not risk aggravating a student’s symptoms or prolonging their stay—positive is positive, there is no such thing as “more positive.” UHS and the Quarantine & Isolation Management Team will work both students to ensure the best possible match under these circumstances and make sure each student is comfortable.
Getting there and settling in
With the exception of students who arrive in their own vehicles, the Department of Transportation and Parking Management schedules a time to pick students up outside their residence halls, deliver them in a van to the quarantine or isolation space, and make sure they have safely entered the building.
At Whipple Park, the students are met by front desk staff who help make sure all their needs are met. Students also receive a welcome email with information on resource contacts from the University’s Climate & Care committee, as well as the option to receive direct follow-up from a professional in the student’s school. UHS staff members make outreach calls to all students who are in isolation and quarantine for exposure-related reasons to check on their well-being and connect them to any resources they may need.
Dining Services contacts each student by email and phone to arrange food deliveries to their door, and can accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences.
“Building on last year’s experience, we’ve listened to students’ feedback and are doing everything we can to make the quarantine or isolation process easy and the space comfortable,” says Amy McDonald, associate director of UHS health promotion.
UHS tracks a student’s case until they are cleared to leave. When students have completed their quarantine and UHS has confirmed they may leave, they are able to choose a transportation option to return to campus: self-arranged, University shuttle bus, or van service.
What’s included in the quarantine and isolation spaces at Whipple Park?
Each quarantine space includes a refrigerator, microwave, bed sheets and blanket, and WiFi. The WiFi was upgraded in each apartment in the spring 2021 semester and is reliable for students to stay connected and complete their coursework.
Additional supplies and essential items—including over-the-counter medicines, extra blankets, silverware, feminine products, and personal hygiene items such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, plastic silverware, soap, and dental floss—can be requested. Quarantine “welcome bags” are created for students and include include items such as microwaveable plates, mugs, soap, Gatorade, water bottles, and snacks. Several departments from throughout the University have funded these welcome bag supplies.
Dave Bujak, the University’s emergency preparedness manager, notes that 20 Whipple Park apartments have been outfitted to meet the space needs for quarantine and isolation housing, and there are 40 beds available there.