As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, Fairfield University has adjusted to meet the housing needs of students diagnosed with the virus, or students who have interacted with those infected.
The former Dolan School of Business, now the Conference Center, and the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport are being used to house students in isolation due to contact tracing. Students who received a positive COVID-19 test will stay in the Conference Center, while those who are considered close contacts but received a negative test result will isolate at the Holiday Inn.
Those quarantined at the Holiday Inn are not able to leave their room, according to vice president of student life, Karen Donoghue. Meals are ordered from the hotel restaurant, which are then delivered directly to the rooms.
While students are isolating off-campus, there is currently plenty of space available in the Conference Center should there be a surge in positive cases. Fairfield currently remains at COVID-19 Status Level Yellow, indicating a low to moderate risk of spread. Based on the COVID Tracking Dashboard, which was last updated by the University on Oct. 2, there are 14 people isolating on campus at this time, which is less than halfway to the isolation capacity of 64. 18 students are currently under surveillance by the school.
Donoghue also shared that students isolating at either location receive daily check-ins from counseling to ensure the mental health of students in quarantine remains healthy. The global pandemic can cause significant changes in mental health, especially for those in isolation, so the availability of counseling is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recognized the virus’s possible effects on mental health, and have also released outlets for those experiencing depression or anxiety during this time.
Besides housing being provided by the school, students are able to quarantine from home, should they be close enough to do so, or if their situation best allows.
“Isolation in the Conference Center or being under surveillance (i.e. quarantine) can be a lonely place for a student, particularly if you are not feeling well. Students who live within 300 miles of campus are expected to go home,” dean of students, William Johnson said.
The University has also had to adjust the policies within residence halls throughout campus in order to prevent spread of the virus, including repetitive decontamination of high-touch surfaces. Though cleaning efforts have been heightened in the attempt to maintain hygiene within campus residence halls, there is also a large amount of trust in students to create a safe environment. Hand washing and mask wearing are enforced by resident assistants, and have been made an important part of daily life.
Students living in an off-campus residence are expected to participate in COVID-19 prevention policies similar to those on-campus, including the daily LiveSafe check-in.
“I remain confident that the student body will, generally speaking, do what is right to keep our community healthy,” Johnson said regarding his confidence in the University’s ability to remain open until Thanksgiving break.