Running an entire floor of college students is a job at hand, but now positive coronavirus cases are surging through the Illinois State University campus. Junior resident assistant Isabelle Pupo hung out with a fellow RA for about 20 minutes before she received a positive test for COVID-19.
After the incident, Pupo was going to be quarantined and tested again.
However, the conversation between several of her bosses from University Housing that followed included new guidelines.
Now as Housing began working with healthcare services, they were going to have to let Pupo go from her RA position.
Despite ISU announcing that underclassmen are not required to live in residence halls this year, Pupo expressed concerns as the RAs geared up before students moved back into the dorms.
This includes ISU not requiring students to get tested before arriving on campus whether they are living on campus or off campus.
“You’re going to have thousands of kids [and] have me come in contact with thousands of kids and not have one of them get tested?” Pupo wondered.
Pupo also expressed concerns for the on-campus and off-campus quarantine areas that ISU has put in place.
For Pupo, this especially includes the on-campus quarantine rooms that have been put aside on every individual floor of each residence hall.
“You’re going to put quarantine rooms on our floors, even if our floor was clean [and] you’re going to have somebody who tested positive in a suite on our floor,” Pupo said.
While the quarantine rooms have been beneficial to help slow and prevent the spread in the residence halls, ISU Director of Media Relations Eric Jome explained the circumstances of quarantine rooms on campus.
“We have those spaces available, and it’s on a limited basis. If individuals who are living on campus housing do test positive, they’re asked to return home,” Jome said.
“That limited space is for people who have extenuating circumstances where they’re not able to return to their permanent residence for a particular reason.”
Jome went on to explain how Housing would make sure that the proper staffing is maintained to cover rounds on the residence hall floors.
This includes student RAs and community assistants teaming up and working together to cover all the residence halls.
“It’s a combination of student RAs and professional staff who would cover,” Jome said.
The number of positive cases on campus has risen over the past two weeks, increasing to a total positivity rate of 23.5%.
This comes as numbers continue to surge and students are being placed in the quarantine rooms.
Junior actuarial science major Madie Ratliff tested positive for the coronavirus after she was exposed from her roommate in Cardinal Court.
Ratliff did not want to go home due to her mom being a healthcare worker. For Ratliff, this means her mom would not be able to go to work if exposed.
All her roommates went home, allowing a vacant living space in Cardinal Court, but Ratliff was sent to Manchester to quarantine for 14 days.
“I’m just very disappointed in this because it seems like a big deal and such an important thing that you have to be quarantined,” Ratliff said.
Expecting the room to be disinfected and cleaned, it did not match what Ratliff thought the university was working toward to keeping a clean and healthy campus.
“They wouldn’t let me stay in my apartment where all my food, cleaning supplies and all my stuff is,” Ratliff said.
As Housing and Student Health Services continue to work together to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases in the ISU community, it will all depend on the volume of the case in what actions should be pursued.
All of this comes as the roles of RAs and community assistants are changing immensely amid the pandemic.
While ISU continues to tackle the pandemic as it worsens at the local and state level, students strongly believe that the health and safety of all students has to continue to be the top priority at ISU.