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Students keep busy during two-week quarantine

August 12, 2020
students wearing masks waiting outside RiverviewFirst-year student Rebecca Sandoval of Chicago waits in line outside Riverview Apartments to check-in to a 14-day quarantine for students arriving from states with travel restrictions. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)
Undergraduates who arrived August 1 for a New York State–required quarantine are finding plenty to do while they prepare for the fall semester.

Cez Garcia ’22 has been staying busy since beginning 14 days of quarantine at the University of Rochester.

selfie of Cez Garcia, drinking a cup of coffee

QUARANTINE SELFIE: Cez Garcia ’22 has been keeping busy with his remote summer internship and “fitness and yoga Zoom sessions to force myself into some sort of exercise.”

The business analytics and economics double major from Washington, DC, moved into a room in Riverview Apartments on August 1, joining more than 400 fellow students from the College and the Eastman School of Music who come from foreign nations or states on New York State’s travel advisory. After two weeks in quarantine—at Riverview or the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Rochester—the students will move into their regularly assigned campus residence halls starting on August 14. Classes begin August 26.

Garcia is sharing a suite with three other students. Each has an individual room and bathroom, but they share a kitchen.

“Having other people in the suite has allowed for at least some human interaction, even if it’s limited to social distance communication,” Garcia says. “And Riverview is fancy compared to most on-campus housing.”

Garcia brought from home cereal, granola bars, and fresh fruit, which he eats for breakfast and lunch. The University’s Basic Needs Hub provides him with “URos” dollars each day, which he uses to order dinner. Much of his day is spent as a summer intern for CIBC Bank USA, where he works remotely for eight hours each weekday. He also takes part in some of the activities posted on the University’s Quarantine Countdown calendar—“fitness and yoga Zoom sessions to force myself into some sort of exercise,” he says. “The rest of the time, I’m on YouTube or NetFlix watching the new season of Last Chance U or watching the restart of the NBA.”

student behind her laptop, covered in stickers

QUARANTINE SELFIE: Justyna Gorka ’21, the new president of the Students’ Association, has been finding answers and support for her fellow students from her quarantine housing.

The Wilson Commons Student Activities staff organized the activities calendar to keep quarantined students busy and entertained. “We had student organizations offer fitness classes, yoga, and gaming nights,” says Anne-Marie Algier, associate dean of students. “Faculty members and student service departments shared their expertise and offered learning opportunities in drop-in online sessions. Members of the University community have offered to host Zoom family dinner hours or share their musical talents. Student government established a Facebook group so people could stay connected, and when students arrived for quarantine a Rochester Traditions coloring book and a calendar of resources was waiting for them.”

Molly Jolliff, director of International Student Engagement, has outlined the resources and support systems available to quarantined students. “We are in this together,” Jolliff stresses. “You are not alone.”

Devon Rogers ’23, a political science and anthropology double major from Seat Pleasant, Maryland, calls quarantine “a readjusting period” but says he has plenty to keep him occupied. “I brought my PlayStation 4 and play Madden [football] and Call of Duty. I also communicate with friends and family often via Zoom, and play R&B and rap music while I work on advocacy as a Students’ Association (SA) Senator.”

Justyna Gorka ’21, the new SA president, is a political science and philosophy double major from Chicago who’s also quarantining in Riverview. “Illinois was added to New York’s hot spot list four days before the August 1 deadline, so I was in a panic to get back,” she says. Her main priority has been to give student feedback to the administration. “Everyone has been so receptive, and Anne-Marie Algier and Jeff Runner [the dean of the College] have really helped make the workload easier,” she says. “During quarantine, I’ve been posting in the UR Quarantine Facebook group and communicating with students one on one through text messages and email while working with Res Life on the food delivery system. I’m also working with members of SA to strategize moving out of quarantine. It’s fascinating that this entire time, I’ve done this from my bed in quarantine.”

Brian Basu ’21 is an international relations major from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who will serve as a resident advisor at Riverview this year. “My experience has been great so far,” he says. “I have my own bathroom, and the wifi is really good, so I’m able to get a lot done.”

selfie of a student in front of his window

QUARANTINE SELFIE: Brian Basu ’21 will serve as an RA once his quarantine in Riverview ends.

Basu was one of seven students from Puerto Rico who were displaced when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2018. The seven attended Rochester for a “guest semester” that spring. Basu fell in love with the campus and was admitted that fall. These days, as president of the Puerto Rican Student Organization, he coordinates supply runs for Rochester students from Puerto Rican who are in quarantine. “We’ve delivered 20 care packages so far,” he says. “I spend the rest of my time reading and on FaceTime with other friends who are quarantined, and I call a lot of people. My phone history has more than tripled since I came here.”

Basu thinks the two-week quarantine is a small price to pay to keep the University community safe as the new school year approaches. “We must all make sacrifices for the greater good and make sure others do the same,” he says. “We have a public responsibility to make this work.”

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