Yale has published countless guidelines in regard to preventing and treating COVID-19. They have guidelines set in place about what to expect when a student tests positive and when they can eventually leave isolation housing. University COVID-19 Coordinator Stephanie Spangler has sent information about COVID-19 trends on campus. But there is not enough information being shared about what to expect within isolation housing.
It was visible from the start of my isolation experience and that of others who were there too just how much Yale was expecting us to compromise during our recovery. On April 22 at 10 p.m., I entered a room that was already occupied by someone who had arrived that afternoon. We stared at each other in shock — she hadn’t been notified of my arrival and I didn’t know that I should expect roommates. Glancing at the other empty bed across the room, there weren’t any linens. I eventually found some in another room, thanks to a friend that I was lucky enough to have there with me.
Another student told me that they arrived around 9 p.m. at a bunk bed on the third floor where there were no linens or towels. After emailing Yale Isolation Housing, they were told that there were linens on the second floor. But there weren’t. “If the expectation is that we are supposed to proactively get bedding for ourselves when we’re dealing with an illness, then that should be clearly communicated,” he told me. He slept with his sweatshirt as his pillow.
The next morning, I received an email from Yale Hospitality that my food had been delivered. It wasn’t. And it wouldn’t be delivered tomorrow either: it was supposedly a one-time delivery that was meant to sustain me for Saturday and Sunday. I used my $75 in Grubhub credit to stay fed.
On day four, five girls suddenly moved into the suite, all on their first day. There was no notification from Yale — even after students have asked for a heads-up. A nurse told me through the phone that this was “standard hospital protocol” for patients with COVID-19. But this isn’t a hospital. And it shouldn’t be expected for undergraduate students with limited to no background in medical protocols to know this upon arrival.
I called Yale Isolation Housing to find out what was going on since more people were moving into the floor and more suites were being filled up. And I received mixed messaging. I learned that day that McClMellan Hall was closed for an “event” and that that was why more people were being crammed into Arnold Hall. Another nurse told me that it was closed for maintenance. A recently published Yale Daily News article briefly mentioned that admitted students coming in for Bulldog Days and who tested positive were being placed in isolation housing on-campus — I can only hope that this isn’t true, considering that it shows blatant disregard for current students over potential ones.
COVID-19 is scary. And it’s serious. My parents went to the hospital because of how debilitating their symptoms were in December 2020, when we knew less about the virus and when vaccines were just announced. No one wants to be infected, even now with the luxury of vaccines, boosters, hindsight and more information. It makes sense that Yale is being cautious.
But those who already are infected with COVID-19 and who have to deal with physical symptoms, changing housing situations and increased anxiety surrounding upcoming assignment deadlines while trying to recover from a virus deserve to understand the circumstances they will encounter. The least that Yale can do is care about the students already infected with COVID-19 just as much as they care about potentially spreading it. Tell students about potential roommates before they arrive at isolation housing. Ensure that food and linens are delivered, without having to rely on sick students demanding that they need these, especially when they’re arriving at night. Check in on students in isolation and ask about their health. Be communicative about what to expect within isolation housing. Be proactive for the students whose primary concern should be their recovery.
Isolation is difficult enough and we’re trying to do what we can within these four walls. Please, Yale, do your best to show that you care.
Isa Dominguez is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College. Contact her at email@example.com