The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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On-campus quarantined students overlooked

Photo by FILE

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, on-campus residents who have tested positive are coming forward with complaints in regard to quarantine housing. 

Texas A&M on-campus residents have raised concerns about alternative housing if they test positive for COVID-19.
Students who live within five hours of the university are asked to return home for their quarantine while students who live further away may be given the option to stay in one of the limited number of designated on-campus COVID-19 quarantine rooms.
Residence Life of Administrative and Support Services director Carol Binzer said if a student tests positive, those who reside on campus will then be given further guidance on how the quarantine process will work for them as there is not an exact one-size-fits-all protocol due to the variation of cases. Though, all students, regardless of housing status, must report if they test positive or are exposed to another COVID-19 positive individual through the COVID-19 Reporting Form.
Once a student tests positive for COVID-19, they are required to quarantine for 10 days. However, where a student quarantines will be determined by their room situation.
“If you test positive, we have to figure out how to isolate you,” Binzer said. “If you live in a room by yourself, and you have access to a bathroom by yourself, you can likely stay in place. If you live in a communal setting, have a roommate [who does not test positive without access] to your [own] bathroom, then we’re asking that you find another place to isolate.”
Binzer said the housing office normally has additional rooms for students who decide not to go to the university or rooms that they use as temporary housing while moving people around, like study rooms.
“For most people, they’re within driving distance of home, and most choose to go home. If for some reason that’s not practical, we have some space to be able to help out with that,” Binzer said. “As we know from last year, most people who turn positive and feel sick choose to go home and be taken care of by their primary care provider.”
Although she had already completed her mandatory testing early on for A&M, economics freshman Onyinyechi Akparu said she felt sick and elected to get tested again. After receiving a positive test result on Friday, Sept. 3, she began her quarantine.
Akparu then received a call saying she would need to vacate her dorm room because her roommate tested negative. Since Akparu lives within five hours of campus, A&M suggested she return to her family’s home to quarantine. However, this proved to be a problem because her mother is considered a high-risk individual and she did not have a car to transport herself home without riding with her mother.
“They recommended either finding someone off campus to stay with [or returning home], but I am a freshman and I’ve only been to college one semester and don’t know of anybody off campus,” Akparu said. “[They] also recommended a hotel. I asked what [would] happen if I stayed in my dorm, and they said I would be [reported to the student code of conduct].”
The number of 10 x 12 rooms fluctuate as students go in and out of quarantine, Binzer said. The university currently allows two people of the same gender who have tested positive in a quarantine room together.
“They can stay in one of our spaces that our staff are working with [to house COVID-19 positive individuals],” Binzer said. “It’s a fluctuating thing, so I try to accommodate them until [the end of their quarantine], unless someone from farther away really can’t get home.”
Additionally, students like Akparu who are in quarantine are required to elect two people who live on or near campus to serve as their short-term personal care attendant who will bring them meals and help with laundry, as they are not supposed to leave their room during quarantine.
“There was a form [to elect short-term personal care attendant], and you can have two attendants, but I had only one person because I didn’t have anybody else,” Akparu said. “If you don’t have any attendants, they’re not necessarily going to assign you one.”
Binzer said an elected person will drop off the student’s laundry to be washed by a university partnered laundry service, Tide University.
“Essentially, you put your clothes in the laundry bag, the bag gets dropped off at a central location [by your short-term personal care attendant] for Tide to take it away from campus [and wash] then [your attendant] could pick it up,” Binzer said.
Akparu said she is calling on the university to make a change regarding on-campus COVID-19 policies for students who are unable to go home.
“I don’t have anywhere to go without isolating or quarantining at all. Everywhere I would go, I would just infect [people around me] left to right, but they just care that you are off campus,” Akparu said. “They need to have space for people who test positive for COVID[-19]. They can’t send everybody home, a lot of students are international students and it’s the students who simply don’t want to infect the rest of their families.”

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