COVID-19 has brought the pending question if university students should return to campus for the fall semester. There is also an ongoing decision to be made by universities regarding policies and plans for the safe return of students to campus. As COVID-19 rhetoric is exchanged, students are adding into the conversation about their safety on campus and in their homes.
There are circulating questions as to how students will manage COVID-19, assuring they can keep themselves, as well as others, safe from the virus. A major part of the question is how off-campus living will affect roommate situations and how will the process go when dealing with potential COVID-19 situations.
Noah Jackson, a senior computer science major, received an answer when his roommate tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago.
“He went to a party with some friends and the next day he heard that multiple people from the party were either showing symptoms or had tested positive (for COVID-19),” Jackson said.
Handling the situation, Jackson said his roommate quickly responded, and took action to prevent the spread of the virus by scheduling a test and watching out for symptoms, as well as quarantining since he had started to feel sick and developed a low fever.
“Anytime he came down to our living room or kitchen he would wear a mask and disinfect anything he touched,” he said.
In the following weeks, Jackson said no one in the house developed or showed symptoms, and did not contract the virus. Through an effective self-administered health assessment and recognizing the signs of COVID-19, quarantining and practicing safety protocols, the spread of COVID-19 was prevented within their home. Jackson advised taking these steps, as well as following the BGSU COVID-19 safety protocols and resources to help prevention.
“I feel like the university is doing a good job to ensure there isn’t an outbreak when the semester starts … Hopefully when students return to campus in the next few weeks everyone uses common sense and there isn’t an explosion of cases,” he said.
As BGSU is preparing to enact the safety protocols as students and faculty are coming back to campus, Carol Hall, a senior film production major, is preparing to stay safe even though she is not physically coming back to campus for the semester.
“I’m actually immunocompromised, so COVID for me has been a lot scarier just cause I am at a higher risk for it. So I have spent all of COVID in my house with my parents,” she said.
The pandemic for Hall has been a whirlwind experience for her. Since March, much has rapidly changed — a cancelled course trip to Paris, a called-off season for the Lake Erie Crushers where Hall was planning to intern and other life-shifting events — and a few questions still linger about the future. The pandemic has affected her livelihood, but she’d rather be safe than sorry since she is more prone to contract the virus. She can’t take any risks, especially when people are still opposed to wearing masks and calling the pandemic ‘a hoax.’
“It’s a shame a lot of people have not taken this whole pandemic seriously, until it personally affects them or someone they know. I think that’s sad, it probably is affecting someone they know, and they don’t even realize it,” Hall said.
But the slight risk Hall is taking is her plan to move back to BG with her roommates, who she said have both been supportive and helpful when it came to her being immunocompromised.
“About two weeks ago, I — when it started getting closer to move in and I saw that it (COVID-19) was just as bad as it was in the beginning if not worse — I contacted them and we basically had a video chat session. The night before, I wrote out this whole list of things, cause they know I’m immunocompromised.”
She mentioned to her roommates if they were uncomfortable or had a disagreement to let her know, but were overall supportive of Hall’s requests and helped to establish boundaries in dealing with the virus. Though she has the full-support of family and friends to move back to BG, health and personal comfort is still her top priority in moving.
“I am planning on moving back to BG, but it’s one of those things where as of now I am planning to move back. But, both my parents and my roommates know, if I get there and I ultimately just don’t feel comfortable, or I don’t feel safe, I’m coming back home … So, we’re going to just take it one day at a time.”
As students return to BGSU for the fall semester with new safety advisories and protocols in place, Hall and Jackson emphasized the importance of simple acts of following protocols, which can make a significant change for campus life and other students' lives.
“Wear a mask, use hand sanitizer. That’s the biggest thing, all you have to do is just go out to the store and wear a mask … Just please, wear a mask and just think of everyone else. Think of you grandparents, think of people who are at higher risk, think of everyone else and it’ll make the world a better place,” Hall said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out guidelines in regard to handling shared housing and caring for an individual who has developed symptoms and/or tested positive for COVID-19.