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Quarantined

Quarantined

Two Students’ Stories 

By Nils A. Anderson 

With the 2021-22 academic year being almost entirely in-person, many complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic have presented themselves to students, staff, and faculty. Most of us likely know someone who has been affected by COVID-19 or quarantine. To give some perspective on how students have been affected, The Collegian interviewed two students: junior English and secondary education major Macy Moon and freshman biology major Atlee Elloway. 

Seeing the lights of a building has never been so eerie. Meske serves as the University’s quarantine hall. Photo by Nils A. Anderson. Taken on 1/20/2022.

Overall, their experiences are similar in their lack of support during isolation. Elloway spent 11 days in Meske Hall following a positive test of COVID-19 immediately after Thanksgiving break. Moon, more recently, spent six days in Meske after a positive COVID-19 test. Their situations were similar in some ways and quite distinct in others. One key theme both students stress is the overwhelming isolation and lack of institutional readiness on the part of the University to accommodate the quarantined, both academically and otherwise.  

Elloway and Moon stressed that lack of institutional preparedness as they experienced a great degree of inconsistency. Some professors and classes were able to improvise and integrate their quarantined students while others were not. Moon recalled, “What I heard from one of my other professors was that they just weren’t prepared,” and that “they weren’t given the camera equipment [for class] because the University didn’t anticipate this.” [1]  

Luckily for Moon, she was quarantined during the beginning of this quarter, and will have time to recuperate and recover her grades. Elloway was not so fortunate. She was quarantined immediately after Thanksgiving break and was not released until the end of dead week with no time to recover. Elloway expressed that “it really screwed [her]” in terms of academics. [2] 

Even if there had been excellent online alternatives for those in quarantine, many would not have been in a state to attend regardless. Elloway spent hours in Meske before receiving bedding and over four days before she was allowed a package containing medication to alleviate her severe symptoms. [3] Moon was fortunate enough to have people on the outside who were able to assist her, but as a freshman from out of state who lacked a network in Walla Walla, Elloway had to rely on an official infrastructure that didn’t adequately support her despite the best intentions and efforts of the staff. [4, 5] 

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George Bowers working in the Science Building chemistry lab.

Both students heavily emphasized the isolation aspect of quarantine. For obvious reasons, anyone staying in Meske is not allowed to be outside of their rooms for any length of time other than to access the restroom. While this is a sensible measure, it is nonetheless bleak to experience. In conjunction with the general isolation, it is a large contributing factor to the severe mental stress placed on those in Meske. 

Where quarantined students spend their allotted time in recovery or isolation. Photo by Caleb Snarr. Taken on 1/20/2022.

While those unpleasant circumstances may be worth it to help contain the spread of COVID-19, being quarantined, even in the best-case scenario, is not ideal. What we have now is certainly not a best-case scenario. Neither inside nor outside of Meske. That leaves one to wonder what can be done differently; to wonder, how can the University better enable those residence staff and professors to support the quarantined; to wonder, how can the University be proactive in limiting the necessity of quarantine? 

References 

  1. Interview with Macy Moon, 1/20/2022. 
  1. Interview with Atlee Elloway, 1/20/2022. 
  1. Ibid
  1. Interview with Macy Moon, 1/20/2022. 
  1. Interview with Atlee Elloway, 1/20/2022. 
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