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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

Students with Covid-19 feeling confused and overwhelmed during record case numbers

Students who test positive for Covid-19 are required to complete their five-day quarantine in off-campus housing, in isolation housing on or adjacent to campus, or in their current room.
Students who test positive for Covid-19 are required to complete their five-day quarantine in off-campus housing, in isolation housing on or adjacent to campus, or in their current room.

Josh Harkins ’25 was taking a seat in Proctor Dining Hall when he suddenly saw an alarming email notification on his phone. “Hello, you are receiving this message because you have tested positive for COVID-19. If you are not currently in your room, please return to your room,” the message read.

As of March 9, the college has reported a total of 383 Covid-19 cases so far during the spring semester. Some students who tested positive have reported confusion about isolation protocols as the school responds to an increase in cases and changing CDC guidelines.

During their quarantines, many Middlebury students with Covid-19 have struggled to get food, stay up to date with their classes and interpret the college’s expectations for students who test positive. 

“At the beginning it does feel very overwhelming when there is lots of information coming at you all at once,” said Harkins. 

After a student tests positive for Covid-19, they have three isolation options: off-campus housing, isolation housing on or adjacent to campus, or isolating in their current room. In on-campus isolation housing, the college will deliver meals to students. 

As case numbers began to rise during the spring semester, however, staff were unable to continue to deliver meals to those isolating in their rooms, with Covid-positive students then having to ask friends to deliver meals to them. For some, this policy created challenges, including the awkwardness of putting those burdens on peers and difficulties for those with dietary restrictions.

Febs in the class of 2025.5, who arrived on campus just a few weeks ago, also found it challenging to get food delivered when they have not fully developed connections across campus.

“I had luckily made some great friends here at Middlebury, but I have to admit it was awkward asking people you have just met to bring you food and do you favors,” Max Myers ’25.5 said.

The college changed its policy last week, allowing Covid-19 positive students to come to Proctor dining hall at 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. to pick up food.

Students also described the challenges of navigating isolation during the school week.

“It's really annoying not being in class for three days because you miss a lot,” Will Tella ’25 said.

Students with Covid-19 said they have also experienced different levels of support from professors if they have to miss class due to their quarantine. Some professors post Zoom links for students in quarantine and post lecture notes online, while others suggest you get the notes from another student. Other professors have shifted entirely to online instruction until most students are released from isolation.

“It was kind of ridiculous that some professors would not support an online option when half the class had Covid,” Myers said. 

Despite some frustrations, the students interviewed by The Campus still expressed appreciation for the dedication and work college staff are putting in.

“I feel more empathy for the — I am sure overworked — folks who are running the day-to-day operations,” Harkins said. “I certainly think the system is being pushed to its limits right now.”

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