Ten students tested positive for COVID-19: Seven isolate at home; three students isolating on campus
By James Barraford, Stefano Hernandez
As of Feb. 3, 10 resident students have tested positive for COVID-19 and were required to go into isolation – three of them are isolating on campus at West Hall.
According to Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and student life, 131 resident students were in isolation and quarantine between fall 2020 and Jan. 27, 2021. He said there were 133 between fall 2021 and Jan 27, 2022.
Cochran said this is a difference of “only a 1.5% change.”
He said the reason for the numbers being so close was because the resident population for this past semester was “more than 80% larger than the number on campus last year.”
Therefore, because there were so many more students than last fall, he said residential isolation and quarantine cases for fall 2021 are “nearly 55%” lower in comparison.
Cochran added, “FSU moved to remote classes and a staggered return to residence halls during the weeks following the peak of the omicron surge.”
Cochran said last year, there were some reported incidents of students breaking isolation and
quarantine and “some were even sent to the conduct system.”
He said for this year, incidents have been “really limited.”
Cochran said there were “isolated reports” involving students under isolation and quarantine, and that none of those incidents involved students “going into crowds.”
He said this year’s reports were more like someone getting something, like food, through a window.
Cochran added students’ IDs are deactivated during their isolation and quarantine period.
Ellen Zimmerman, interim provost and vice president of Academic A/airs, said, “It’s important to recognize that this virus doesn’t know any boundaries between campus and the rest of the world.”
She said, “The more COVID cases there are, in general, the more people will need to have hospital beds.”
Zimmerman said when hospitals reach capacity treating those with COVID-19, patients with other medical problems may be “at risk of not getting the care they need.
“I’ve read stories of people who were denied surgery because they just didn’t have room in the hospital for another patient,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman added students this year only have to be in isolation five days instead of ten days, which was the protocol last year. On the sixth day, they are given a take home rapid test, and if they test negative, they can leave isolation.
She said, “It’s a shorter period, which I think makes it feel a little more manageable.”
Ilene Hofrenning, director of the Health Center, said it is important that the FSU community remain “vigilant.”
She said while omicron may be “less severe,” it still could be spread to someone who is vulnerable, such as children under 5, older people, and those who are immunocompromised.
Hofrenning said with omicron being so infectious, there are some people who are going to get “really sick.”
She said those with comorbidities and those who declined preventative care were more at risk.
Hofrenning added hospitals are overwhelmed and long COVID-19 was still a risk.
“It’s probably not as likely as it is with delta, but there are some people with long COVID, who weeks or months later, still have symptoms of fatigue or palpitations or cough or shortness of breath,” she said.
She added, “It is a real thing.”
Hofrenning said the campus is purchasing KN95 masks for community members. She added, “It’s really important to get a mask that is good fitting and can really form around the nose.”
Hofrenning said many people use the terms isolation and quarantine “interchangeably.”
She said isolation refers to students who have been diagnosed and sick and need to be separated from others. She said quarantine is when someone has been exposed to the virus but has not been
Paulina Mensah, a junior biology major and RA, said she does not have much interaction with students in isolation and quarantine, except for dropping o/ food when the students request it.
She said she initially didn’t think students would return to in-person classes this semester due to omicron.
She added, “But we’re in person now, so that’s great.”
Xavier Martinez, a senior business management major, said he had friends who were sent to isolation and that COVID-19 had made campus life “boring.”
Patricia Hardaker, a senior criminology major, said she believes the school administrators are “trying their best to prevent an outbreak,” with testing every other week for resident students.
However, she said she works on campus and “constantly” sees students without masks or wearing them incorrectly.
She said when her roommate caught COVID-19, she was “upset” they would have to move to a different building for five days.
While Hardaker “wasn’t too worried” because she was fully vaccinated, she said she FaceTimed every day with her roommate and played online games.
Harry Thompson, a sophomore political science major, said he thought the two-week period of online lectures were unnecessary and “pointless.”
“Either keep us home or let us go to class,” Thompson said. “It’s almost like mixed messaging. Are cases up or is it not that bad?”
Kathleen Oliver, an undecided freshman, said she felt safe on campus and did not worry about catching COVID-19 in the residence halls.
“It sounds like everyone is really trying to keep us OK,” Oliver said. “I think other schools should definitely try to do what Framingham did and show that they’re really trying to keep people safe.”
Ryan Fecteau, a senior communication, media, and performance major, said, “One of my roommates actually tested positive at the beginning of this semester and was sent to live in West Hall for his quarantine period.”
He said he does not hear much about the isolation and quarantine process except what his roommate told him about West Hall.
Fecteau said he feels safe with the COVID-19 safety measures in place. However, he said some of the new regulations “seem unnecessary.”
Fecteau added that having to make a reservation for the dining hall was “tedious” and “just about every time I have gone to eat, I was not asked whether or not I have made a reservation.”
He said that with the changing nature of the pandemic, it is understandable “that there will be some errors and fixes to be made.
“I think, overall, the University is handling campus life during the pandemic very well, as seen through the low numbers in positive cases through weekly testing,” Fecteau said.