Universities and colleges are working to secure isolated environments for students who have tested positive for the CCP virus amid increased cases ahead of schools opening, according to Medical XPress.
It follows a suggestion from Deborah Birx, one of the White House Coronavirus Task Force members, who warned schools on Aug. 31 to not send their COVID-19-positive students home to avoid further spread. It was further echoed by Anthony Fauci, who said that sending students who test positive home is the worst decision that a school could make.
Some schools have designated dorms for this purpose or have located buildings to use as isolation environments, while some have resorted to using motel-like suites for their students after running out of space in their dorms.
Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, had to transform a guest house that was formerly a headquarters for General Electric into a dorm-style living space for some of its students.
North Carolina State University (NCSU) prepared both quarantine and isolation areas for students who either tested positive for the CCP virus or had been in contact with someone who has, placing students who test positive in isolation dorms. As for students who are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 but believe that they have been in contact with a COVID-19-positive individual, they will also be placed in quarantine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that should positive cases should be found on a school campus, the person who tested positive will possibly be moved to temporary housing locations “to self-isolate and monitor for worsening symptoms according to the guidance of local health officials.”
The CDC stated that the individual should stay isolated for at least 10 days. However, individuals are allowed to end their isolation if they no longer exhibit any symptoms 10 days after they first appear and if patients have not had a fever in the last 24 hours without the use of any fever-breaking medication.
What About Students?
It is the school’s job to make the situation as comfortable as possible if students are to be staying in these dorms for an extended amount of time.
However, not all students might agree, considering some have chosen to come to school to escape the pandemic but end up being trapped again. This could be the case with individuals coming out of high school and entering university for the first time.
For one student at Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania, being quarantined in college dorms was not what she envisioned, especially since she had not been able to attend school in the last part of her senior year of high school, she told CNN.
Furthermore, the quarantine will make it hard for students to interact with one another, which is one of the key aspects of college life, especially after being unable to do so during the pandemic.
Is It the Best Choice?
Medical XPress reported that there was some debate over whether it was safer to send the students back home, especially since there would eventually be some problems regulating students and making sure they are truly safe.
According to Joseph Gerald, associate professor of public health policy and management at the University of Arizona, who believes that although there are steps to keep the students isolated such as with contact tracing and quarantine, it’s not foolproof.
“One of the things we’re struggling with here at the University of Arizona is what to do with multi-story buildings, where kids need to get to their rooms, but we have one or two elevators. It’s not really possible to make an elevator safe,” Gerald said.
There is only so much a school can do to make the school as safe as possible, but it won’t mitigate all the risks.