The Dreaded Positive: Talking with Students in Isolation Housing

by Caroline Kramer | 1/27/21 2:15am

lodge
by Maddie Doerr / The Dartmouth

While most of the Dartmouth community has now emerged from quarantine, a select group of students must wait a bit longer: those in quarantine and isolation housing. 

Avery Boucher-Rowe ’23 was moved to isolation housing after receiving an email alerting him that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 19. The process was simple enough: He was picked up and taken to the Lodge, where he waited for Safety and Security to let him inside. In his room, he found an informational booklet, a fridge, a microwave and a snack package for his stay. 

During his first few days in isolation, Boucher-Rowe encountered some difficulties as he adjusted to the new environment. After missing class due to experiencing some COVID-19 symptoms early on, he had some work to catch up on, but he was grateful that his professors recorded lectures or took other steps to make class materials available to absent students. 

Despite realizing that he was not permitted to go outside for walks during isolation, Boucher-Rowe remained positive about his stay.

“They're checking in daily and taking care of me,” he said. “The nurses call regularly, and I still complete my health survey. I know if I need anything, they’ll provide it for me.” 

When he felt a bit under the weather, for example, Boucher-Rowe shared that he could access medicine as needed. 

Boucher-Rowe’s roommate, Brody Karton ’23, was taken to quarantine housing in the Choates for a minimum of a 10-day stay as a cautionary measure due to his roommate’s positive test. He had a similar arrival experience to Boucher-Rowe, adding that he was especially happy with the assistance from Dartmouth Dining and the simple process of ordering meals and inputting additional requests. 

Overall, Karton felt that his quarantine experience in the Choates was probably the same as it would have been in his old residence hall, with the added benefits of food deliveries and other room amenities.

Karton, like his roommate, was grateful for the support offered by the Dick’s House nurses from whom he received daily calls. 

“Every day they ask questions like, ‘How are you doing? Are you feeling OK? Are you feeling sad about anything? Do you need anything?’” he said. “A couple of days ago I was like, ‘Oh, am I allowed to do laundry? I didn't bring any laundry detergent. Could you guys drop some off?’ And then they dropped them off, which was super awesome.”

The most difficult aspect of quarantine for Karton, however, was the extended period of loneliness that came with it. He expressed frustration at the fact that while others were getting ready to be released from their arrival quarantine periods, he was getting ready for another week inside of his room. 

Clark Gilmore ’24, a student put in isolation in the Lodge on Jan. 18 after testing positive for COVID-19, shared this frustration, especially as he had hoped to take advantage of the outdoors on campus.

“Normally after you take classes, you can then mix up your day by walking with a friend or just walking anywhere on campus and enjoying the outside,” Gilmore said. “That's what you lose out on most in isolation: the variation. Most days are the same. You’re either in class, or you have to find something to do in the room that you’re in.”

For Gilmore, the transition to isolation was tricky as an athlete. While he waits to return to regular exercise on campus, he has made the most of his situation, finding ways to stay active in his isolation room like setting up a mattress against the wall to practice throwing baseballs into. 

When asked about the activities they were looking forward to most after being released from quarantine and isolation housing, all three students shared their excitement to return to the Dartmouth community. 

“I’m looking forward to being able to practice with my team,” Gilmore said.

“A lot of the social stuff,” Boucher-Rowe said. “Especially interacting with actual real life people, not over Zoom.”

“I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing some of my friends I haven't seen in a while. This is my first term back since last winter,” Karton said.

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