Isolation evaluation: Student experiences in isolation housing

Siobhan Nerz, Contributing Writer

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, many students have been in isolation housing due to a positive COVID-19 test or contact tracing. While students have been compliant while going into quarantine to keep the University community safe, the 10-14 day period of seclusion has taken a toll on the mental health of many students. 

Olivia Butler ’24 maintained a positive outlook on the experience “Being in the hotel for two weeks was a challenge, but keeping myself busy with daily walks, classes, homework and relaxing activities made the time go by quickly,” Butler said.

Unfortunately, many other students did not have positive things to say about their experiences in isolation. The menu options never changed and were really low quality. The hotel WiFi was extremely slow. The WiFi improved after I made several calls,”  Kara Huenink ’24 said.

Similarly, Puja Velani ’24 disliked the food choices. “I also felt that [the hotel] had fewer choices in terms of food since I am vegetarian, but I am glad I was able to select meals either way,” Velani said. Velani understood the necessity of isolation and expressed a great concern for the health of the campus. However, isolation was a detriment to her personal mental health. Velani said she “found it difficult to study and be fully present in classes.” Additionally, due to bad timing, she had three quizzes during her two weeks in quarantine and it made the experience “very stressful mentally.”

In addition to the pressure of schoolwork and unreliable WiFi, students struggled with the lack of social contact that came with confinement in a small hotel room. “The 10 days I spent in isolation were very difficult due to the lack of face to face social interactions and time outside. This lack of external stimuli made it increasingly more difficult to focus on classes and coursework,” Madison Rugh ’24 said.

While the time in seclusion is a straining sacrifice for anyone, some unfortunate students have been in isolation multiple times. Sophie Guichardan ’23 was in isolation housing during both the fall and spring semesters. Upon reflection, she says that the University “made great improvement on the conditions that students had to deal with.” 

While students who isolated in the spring expressed dissatisfaction with the food, Guichardan says “the food was a major improvement, actually allowing students to choose food options rather than just receiving randomly selected meals that discouraged eating.” Additionally, Guichardan agrees with the sentiment that isolation made learning difficult. “Isolation made classes seem like more of a burden than anything else and only contributed further to the decline in mental health. Issues with WiFi and non-understanding professors made academics a struggle in an already hard time,” Guichardan said. Sadly, isolation seems to have impacted students’ outlooks on the semester. Guichardan says that isolation “negatively impacted the way students viewed the semester and the campus as a whole since students felt alone and began to question whether or not returning to campus was even worth it.”

In sum, isolation housing is draining for students as poor food and unreliable WiFi contribute to academic stress. Furthermore, the lack of social interaction puts a greater strain on the health of students. Hence, the University community should be grateful for the sacrifices students make for the health of the campus as isolation is no vacation. 

(Visited 79 times, 1 visits today)