Free toiletries for students isolating in Ross Hall. Collegian file photo.
ASHLEY CALLAGHAN | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the span of one week, there was an increase of 40 COVID-19 cases among Butler’s student population as the number jumped from 9 to 49. This is an 81.6% increase. A COVID-19 update sent on Sept. 17 also said that a majority of these cases originated in off-campus housing and in a single on-campus Greek house.
Throughout the past 18 months, safety precautions in residence halls, such as social distancing, wearing masks in common spaces and mandatory quarantines, have played a role in mitigating the transmission of COVID-19.
Although the current mandates only include required vaccination and masks indoors, university administrators can adjust or add precautionary measures specific to residence halls if and when they see fit.
On Feb. 19, Irvington House was placed on a mandatory quarantine. As COVID-19 cases rise on campus, some students have begun to wonder if a quarantine could happen again this school year. However, Frank Ross, vice president of student affairs, said there is no plan in place to lock down any residence hall and no specific number of cases that would cause a mandatory quarantine this year due to the high campus vaccination rate.
Amanda Palmero, a first-year health sciences major living in Irvington House, said that although she hopes a mandatory quarantine won’t become necessary, she is not completely opposed to one if it means keeping students safe and classes in-person.
“I would rather get tested and stay in for a weekend than have to shut down the school and go online for another semester,” Palmero said.
Mason Lovett, a senior computer science and mathematics double major and an RA in Irvington House, said he thinks any mandatory residence hall quarantine this year would be more relaxed because of Butler’s high vaccination rate. He noted that at the time of the lockdown in February, very few people had been fully vaccinated, so social distancing was still a required prevention practice.
Because most COVID-19 cases at Butler this academic year have originated outside of residence halls, Lovett doesn’t believe that a mandatory residence hall quarantine will be necessary anytime soon.
Another factor that impacts COVID-19 regulations on campus is the change in quarantine and isolation protocols from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinated students who do not have symptoms but are deemed a close contact of a positive case no longer need to quarantine.
Unvaccinated students who have symptoms and are awaiting a test result are required to isolate either at their permanent residence or in Ross Hall. Unvaccinated students who are a close contact of someone who tested positive are required to quarantine in their place of residence, either on or off campus.
Any student, regardless of vaccination status, who has tested positive for COVID-19 is required to isolate at their home off-campus or in Ross Hall.
Jane Gervasio, a faculty in residence living in Irvington House, said she is hopeful that these isolation procedures are enough to prevent the need for any mandatory residence hall quarantine.
“The quarantine wasn’t pleasant and it was difficult, in my opinion, on the students,” Gervasio said. “It was hard to understand what was going on and understand the reasoning. I completely sympathized with them and empathized with what they were going through. I don’t want us to go in that direction. And I’m hoping that with us having a high percentage of vaccination on the campus, that we don’t have to go there, and that people will continue to just be diligent and thoughtful with all the health precautions we’re supposed to take.”