By Sammi St. Leger
Some students with negative COVID-19 results at the University of Illinois are being required to quarantine for up to 28 days after roommates test positive.
Students may face disciplinary action if these rules are violated. This is one of UIUCs many efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
“So for her it was two weeks, and for me it was two weeks after her two weeks were over – so I had to quarantine for a month,” said graduate student, Antonio Elizondo.
Elizondo was contacted by the Champaign Health Department after his roommate tested positive for COVID-19. He was asked to quarantine for the duration of his roommate’s isolation and 14 days after.
Although he had in-person classes, Elizondo said it hasn’t been too difficult working from isolation. He said his classes offered an online portion and were helpful and accommodating to students that couldn’t attend class – providing notes before class, adjusting zoom webcams to see the board and asking both students in person and online if they have questions.
Elizondo said the positive of being in isolation is he can limit distractions and focus on other valuable areas of his life – like his health and school work. Since isolation, he has more time to cook, work an internship, exercise and pay bills.
“It kinda just cuts out your social life, but makes time for you to, you know, focus on other things too that could be beneficial,” Elizondo said.
Despite finding isolation at times irritating and inconvenient, he understands the pandemic is a new phenomenon and offers many setbacks.
“Literal lives are at risks, with this virus. Granted we’re in an age group that’s primarily not affected, but even just that off-chance that we spread it to somebody who is at risk or to the older people in the university like staff and professors. I agree with the protocols and what we’re doing. I think they’re important, and it’s just a little discouraging when I see other students not follow them as well.
As long as we just kind of follow the guidelines and keep up with your regular day-to-day life, I think we can get through this period,” Elizondo said.
Recently, multiple incidents that broke campus protocol cause a spike in COVID-19 positivity rates. These incidents included large gatherings inside fraternities and private houses, students circumventing the Safer Illinois app and students not choosing to quarantine after testing positive.
Now with a 1.43 percent positivity rate, the university is taking steps to contact trace, calling and emailing students if they have been exposed to the virus. This knowledge of exposure comes from the Safer Illinois app, which uses bluetooth technology to detect if phones have been inside 6 ft of other phones. If this occurs and a student tests positive, all students with bluetooth settings active on their app will receive a notification of possible exposure. If students avoid these calls or emails about the exposure, they face disciplinary action.
Elizondo said he feels the increasing restrictions are necessary, as people aren’t following guidelines intended to keep the university safe.
“We would have had to have more strict protocols like the contract tracing and subject to discipline if people just followed the rules to begin with,” Elizondo said.