Life inside Kent State’s quarantine dorms

Nathan MehringReporter

Quarantine dorm rooms are being used on campus to house students that have either been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have come to campus from outside of Ohio. 

For those traveling from other states, only those who traveled from “states with a reported COVID-19 positivity rate of 15% or greater” were asked to quarantine, according to an email from Residence Services. 

Those coming in from out of the country were asked to quarantine too, said Jill Jenkins, executive director of Residence Services. The quarantine would last two weeks after the student arrived in Ohio.

These quarantine rooms are located in every residence hall on campus, she said.

“The concentration of them is in buildings that have private bathrooms and that’s our ideal situation, so primarily we have been using the Centennial Courts early in the year,” Jenkins said. “We haven’t had to go into other buildings yet.”

Due to a smaller student population this year and students making off-campus arrangements for quarantining, as of Sept. 3, only between 14 and 16 students have been quarantined, Jenkins said. Four were because of close contact with someone with COVID-19 and between 10 and 12 were because of traveling from out-of-state.

Quarantined accommodations.

After checking in with the COVID-19 Response Team, the students staying in the quarantine dorms are given written directions about what they should do in quarantine, Jenkins said. They are directed to leave the room as little as possible, are delivered food three times a day and are allowed to bring whatever they need.

Accommodations were made so students who came from out-of-state could get to campus early to complete their quarantine before classes started. If they quarantine during classes, the university will work with professors to make accommodations, she said.

Quarantined students are allowed to keep approved animals in the room, whether it was a service, assistance or emotional support animal, Jenkins said. They can walk their animals twice a day.

They also had mail delivered to their rooms, Jenkins said.

A lonely two weeks.

One of the students who stayed in a quarantine dorm in Centennial Court D was Lilian Meissner, a sophomore human development and family studies student.

Meissner arrived on campus on Friday, Aug. 14 from Florida to start her quarantine with her emotional service dog Rikki.

Her time in quarantine was lonely. During the first few days, she didn’t see anyone besides the people dropping off the food as they walked away. If it wasn’t for the food boxes and trash outside of other dorm rooms, she wouldn’t have known that anyone else was quarantining in the building too. Then came move-in day.

“Everybody moving in didn’t start until that Monday. So it was really quiet. And then all of a sudden, just so much noise with people with the shopping carts and people’s parents it was crazy,” Meissner said.

At this point, she got some unexpected contact with people.

“It seems like there wasn’t very much communication on what was going on because people on the floor would knock on my door, introducing themselves, like ‘welcome to Centennial Court D. I’m excited to be your neighbor.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m not going to be here for very long,’” Meissner said. 

She would pass the time by watching Netflix, talking with her family and taking her dog on walks, avoiding heavily-populated places and going around the edge of campus.

“[People ask me] ‘How did you survive? I would be so bored,’” Meissner said. “And I was like ‘I was bored.’”

She was told to leave her trash outside her door and that someone would come and pick it up. No one would come for days, so she would take the trash out herself during walks. 

Her sleep schedule also changed as she started going to bed at 4 a.m. and waking up at noon. 

When she first arrived, Meissner had moved her belongings to her permanent dorm, and only kept her clothes, phone, laptop and pictures of her family.

“I was kind of upset about not having any of my things with me, so it felt, honestly, like I was either in like a mental hospital or I was in jail,” Meissner said.  

Classes started as soon as she got out of quarantine. She described the experience being out of quarantine as nice, but strange, because she still doesn’t know places around campus well.

Isolation dorms.

Students that show symptoms of having COVID-19 are asked to call the COVID-19 Response Team or their health care provider, Jenkins said. If a student tests positive, she will work with the team to either relocate to their permanent residence or to the isolation building on campus. 

The isolation building, Van Campen Hall, is a former residence hall, Jenkins said. As of Sept. 3, only one student has been isolated in the building.

Nathan Mehring is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]