Ross Hall is no longer an available quarantine space for students. Photo by Lauren Jindrich.
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The 2023 spring semester marks the first time since August of 2020 when Ross Hall will not be used as a quarantine facility. This update was announced in an email from Health Services on Jan. 5. The email stated that if a student tests positive for COVID-19, they are responsible for their own housing arrangements during their five-day quarantine.
Scott Peden, executive director for student well-being, said that the change in protocol was brought on because of flooding in Ross Hall. Similarly to Jordan Hall, the pipes in the building could not withstand the extreme temperatures that occurred while students were home for winter break, and caused flooding and water damage in the older buildings on campus.
“Right before New Year’s, we found out that Ross wasn’t going to be an option for isolation housing,” Peden said. “We had planned on still using Ross, at least for the first part of the semester to get us through the early part of the semester … but were told that it wasn’t gonna be an option.”
Students who live farther away from campus worry about the feasibility of getting home safely without exposing others, as well as their ability to quarantine, if they tested positive for COVID-19.
Sophomore organizational communications major Hannah Dove said that without somewhere on campus, she would not have any options for a safe place to quarantine.
“I’m originally from Colorado, and I don’t have any family in the area, so I would not be able to go home,” Dove said. “I would be kind of stuck.”
The email said that students either have to go home or arrange for other housing while they quarantine except in cases deemed to be “extraordinary circumstances.” Peden said, however, that there are limited quarantine spaces available in University Terrace for students who cannot return to their homes.
“[Quarantine housing] is available in certain situations, but it really needs to be protected for the students who truly can’t go home for any number of reasons, and that’s just something that they would talk through with our health services team,” Peden said.
Sophomore exploratory business major Caroline Ross said that it is helpful to students that they have some quarantine spaces available on campus.
“It’s super difficult for me because I live so far away from Butler so if I were to get COVID I wouldn’t have anywhere to go,” Ross said.
Peden also said that amenities that were previously offered to students in quarantine, such as meal delivery, could still be available, but that students need to call Health Services to discuss these options.
With rising COVID-19 cases nationally, masking and quarantining could become more common again. Despite the numbers rising, Peden said that mandated masking on campus has not been discussed recently, but that those who feel sick should mask and quarantine.
“Certainly I think what we’re hoping is that students and faculty and staff, anyone on campus for that matter, feels like if they’re not comfortable, they’re not feeling well, they think they might have been exposed, that they would wear a mask,” Peden said.
According to the email, Butler had a total of ten students that had to quarantine in Ross Hall last semester, a promising number going into the new semester. If students test positive for COVID-19, they are encouraged to reach out to Health Services and discuss possible housing and accommodations.
Students can discuss accommodations with Butler Health Services by calling 317-940-9385.