Ohio University faced many issues when quarantining students this semester, and is putting new plans in place in order to make the process smoother in the spring.
Among these changes will be the Housing Advisory System, which will help alleviate the problems that occurred regarding university-student communication. Many students faced frustration with not knowing what was going on or how they should proceed when in quarantine.
“We were supposed to be assigned a case manager to check up on our symptoms and also to help us process our release papers, and they were supposed to be calling us every day, checking up on our symptoms. And I had a hard time getting in contact with mine,” Amber Eusebio, a sophomore studying communication studies, said.
Although the university has already been making efforts to make students aware of the risk level in their buildings, the system now has a name and set parameters, Special Assistant to the president for Public Health Operations, Gillian Ice, said.
Students will be notified by email if their residence hall is within one of the four color-coded risk levels, according to the OU Housing Advisory System website. Along with this notification of risk level, students will receive guidelines of how they should behave accordingly. The most drastic of those guidelines accompanies risk level four, or “purple.”
If a residence hall is at level four, that indicates that there has been an outbreak within that hall requiring the new “Remain-in-Room” system to go into effect. This system is similar to quarantining after being exposed to someone that is COVID-19 positive. However, because it is not issued by the Ohio Department of Health, it is voluntary, Ice said.
“We will strongly encourage that students do it,” Ice said. “It will be an excused absence for any academic work.”
Additionally, when a hall is level four, no visitors will be allowed, residents will be asked to stay in rooms with the exception of certain activities, residence hall common areas will be off-limits and students will be assigned a COVID Campus Liaison, according to the Housing Advisory System website.
In conjunction with the new housing advisory system, the university will be updating the food delivery system for those in Remain-in-Room, quarantine and isolation buildings.
This semester, the university faced many problems regarding the food being given to those in quarantine and isolation, due to certain photos being circulated on social media. Many of those photos were of food that was unappealing and did not reheat well, Carly Leatherwood, university spokesperson, said.
Initially, the food delivered to students was what Culinary Services deemed the most popular foods, Leatherwood said. However, due to the number of negative responses the university received, efforts have been refocused to serve food that is more easily reheated, as well as visually appealing.
There is a survey students can complete to order their food during quarantine or isolation. This includes options for vegetarian and vegan students. Additionally, there will be a menu for students to choose meals from, Leatherwood said.
Ultimately, many of the changes are a result of trial and error, and the solutions came not only from OU staff but from other state schools.
“We share information, (like) ‘we tried this but it didn't really work that well. We tried another thing and that was really great.’ And so we take ideas from each other,” Ice said.
The new systems being implemented, as well as the method for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing, have both been adapted from other schools, as well as having influenced other schools.
OU plans to continue to work with other schools to improve its systems and methods for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as continuing to adapt based on trial and error.