What Butler students can expect if they test positive for COVID-19

Healthcare worker dressed for a day of testing Butler students for coronavirus in Hinkle Fieldhouse. Photo by Julian Cirnigliaro.

ELLIE ALLEN  |  NEWS EDITOR |  emallen2@butler.edu

Liz Mayes, a junior communication sciences and disorders major, was ready to be back on Butler’s campus after self-isolating for two weeks in preparation for move-in. When she arrived, she took the required COVID-19 test, and it came back positive. 

Mayes was shocked by the news. 

“I cried the entire way, the entire three and a half hours back home,” Mayes said. “I was scared because my grandparents are in our bubbles and both of them are immunocompromised.”

As students return to campus and classes begin, a looming question for many students is, “What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?” A positive test will result in many changes for student life, including housing and classes. 

Butler University advises that the first thing that students do after receiving a positive test is to return home to isolate — isolation periods will begin at 10 days if the student is asymptomatic. However if the student has symptoms, they must isolate until symptoms improve and they have been fever free for 24 hours. It is also advised that students living off-campus return to their permanent residence.

Some students cannot return home due to distance or health risks of family members, therefore they will need to fill out a form to get approval to stay in Ross Hall during their isolation. Health Services will send out this form once the student tests positive and will assess it to determine whether or not students can stay on campus. 

Martha Dziwlik, the interim dean of students, said she does not want students who have tested positive to have to take a plane to return home. 

The next step for students is to get the belongings they will need during isolation from their rooms after their roommates have left. Roommates are considered a close contact of the positive student, so they are also required to quarantine in place for two weeks.

Students who cannot leave immediately but who can return home will be assigned a room in Ross Hall to wait for their family members to pick them up. Students who are staying in Ross Hall to isolate will get a packing list as for what they need to bring, and a packet that outlines what they need to do while in isolation. They will also receive an isolation coordinator.

Isolation coordinators are Health Services personnel who will assist students throughout their isolation, and they will be a point of contact for students should they need anything. They can help retrieve forgotten items, but Butler University will be providing several basic necessities like toothbrushes and toothpaste for students in isolation.

While in isolation, students in Ross Hall will receive three meals a day and any dietary restrictions will be accommodated by Bon Appetit.

Brent Rockwood, the vice president chief of staff, said in a webinar that the university planned for students to test positive.

We’ve known all along that we would have positive cases, but the goal is to identify them as quickly as possible, so we can treat the individual,” Rockwood said.

In regards to their academics, students will have to attend classes virtually, or, if they become too sick, they may have to miss class. Brooke Barnett, the dean of the College of Communication, said students should let their professors know of their situation, and if they are too sick to do that, the Dean of Students will inform the student’s professors.

“If you are able to keep up with what’s happening on campus, even though you’re in quarantine, and in your classes, then it would be to your advantage to do so,” Barnett said. “And if you are not well, you should focus on getting well, and then worry about getting caught up with what’s happening in your classes.”

Students who return home to isolate and do not have access to a computer can apply to have one lended to them through Information Technology.

After students complete the isolation period, they will receive information from Health Services about returning to Butler. Students will also need to receive a negative test to return.

Mayes was able to pay to take a second test at Butler. She took a throat swab test and drove home before getting the result: it was negative. Later, she took another test at a community center that also came back negative, so it was determined that she had received a false positive from Butler’s testing center. Mayes was able to return to campus the same night.

After experiencing all of the protocol associated with receiving a positive test, Mayes advises students to stay calm if they test positive. 

“Just take a breath,” Mayes said. “It’ll be okay. Figure out who you were in contact with, let them know as soon as possible, and just take care of yourself.”

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