MISHAWAKA--Most students likely never expected part of their college experience to occur during a pandemic, but Bethel has installed several protocols to ensure campus life is as safe as possible.
“Any student who is not feeling well should either contact one of the nurses we have on campus or their health care provider who would give some kind of advice, whether that is to go for testing or quarantine in their room to rest and refuel for a time,” Julie Beam, dean of students, said. “We’re finding that the situation really depends on each person’s circumstances. Our next steps with the student depend on their medical advice.”
Student Life has reserved rooms in the residential halls specifically for quarantine or isolation, in addition to four reserved homes off-campus.
“One of the nuances is, depending on what medical advice is given, it may be that a student could begin a quarantine in their own room,” Beam said.
Some students have already experienced quarantine out of caution, including an acquaintance of the editor who asked to remain anonymous. After being told she had been in the same group with another student experiencing symptoms, the student was asked to quarantine.
“It would have been nice to have been asked if I was in contact with her,” the student said. Although the two students were in the same group together, the student said she had never been exposed to her teammate within six feet for more than 15 minutes. The student was quarantined in her dorm, but her roommates could go in and out.
“My biggest issue was miscommunication and inconsistency with protocol,” the student said. “As far as what I was hearing what the protocol situation was, it wasn’t consistent with quarantining me separately.”
Additionally, the student said she had to go through a chain of people for information on how long she would be kept in quarantine. After her teammate tested negative, the student was allowed to return to in-person campus participation.
Contact review is specific to the Bethel community. The student experiencing symptoms or exposed to a person with symptoms goes through a process of listing areas and people they have been in contact with the last 48 hours. From there, the COVID response team contacts the students who have possibly been exposed and asks them to quarantine. It is up to the student to contact anyone they have been in contact with outside of campus.
“The word ‘quarantine’ is referring to a student who may possibly have been exposed to someone with COVID and the word ‘isolation’ refers to an individual who may have it,” said Beam.
Students who have been possibly exposed within six feet for longer than 15 minutes are asked to quarantine for a maximum of 14 days. A campus nurse or Student Life staff member will follow up periodically to review student’s self-observations.
“If the person you were exposed to tests negative, then you would be released,” Shawn Holtgren, vice president for student development, said.
Students who have symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 or who have recently tested positive are to self-isolate; Student Life is prepared to provide a location if the student is unable to return home. Isolation should last for ten days since the symptoms first appeared, or if asymptomatic, 10 days after the student received the positive test result. These guidelines are not set in stone, however, as each situation is unique.
“Testing is great thing, but that testing is not 100%, so there’s a percentage of false negatives,” Beam said.
So far, no members of the Bethel community have tested positive.