One University of Iowa student’s day in quarantine

Because of COVID-19, this year the university decided to put an on-campus quarantine option in place for students who test positive. Now students have the choice to quarantine on campus in the isolation dorms.


Jake Maish

Taylor Ford poses for a portrait on Thursday, Sept. 3 in front of Burge Residence Hall in Iowa City. Ford was released from a quarantine floor in Burge that morning and was taking advantage of her release by reading outside in the afternoon.

Caitlin Crome, News Reporter

Life in quarantine spaces in the University of Iowa residence halls are making some students feel afraid and frustrated as the UI grapples with how to handle the campus-wide COVID-19 outbreak.

The UI decided to put an on-campus quarantine option in place for students who test positive for COVID-19. Students who test positive for the virus or come into close contact with a positive case are given the choice to stay on campus in the designated residence halls with isolation rooms or go home.

University Housing and Dining made between 250 and 300 dorm rooms available for quarantining, UI spokesperson Jeneane Beck told The Daily Iowan last week. As of Sept. 7, 15 students are in quarantine and 97 are in self-isolation in the residence halls.

Beck said the quarantine communities are for those who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, while the isolation communities are for those who have actually tested positive.

UI freshman Sydney Pratt said she is in isolation in Currier Residence Hall after testing positive. She said her weekdays are filled with school work and Zoom meetings, while weekends consist of Tik-Tok, Netflix, and FaceTiming friends when they are not busy.

“There is not much else to do,” Pratt said.

UI freshman Taylor Ford is also in self-isolation in Currier Residence Hall, and said she noticed that one of the girls on the isolation floors brought a ukulele to keep herself entertained.

Pratt said she was impressed with the quality of the daily meals being delivered to her dorm room, and that the worst has been the feeling of isolation.

RELATED: UI Housing & Dining will not notify residents when COVID-19 positive students are moved to quarantine

“I wish I would have gone home, but I am glad I am not putting my family at risk,” Pratt said. “It gets pretty lonely.”

UI senior Holly Hemann is a Crisis Responder Specialist for IMA Live, an online crisis network with a focus on suicide prevention. She said many students have expressed their fear of having to isolate or quarantine on campus after hearing rumors from other students and universities about their negative experiences.

She said the numbers of students and teenagers that have called or messaged them since the pandemic started has greatly increased.

“A big thing has been with the social distancing, people distancing themselves not only physically but mentally from their support systems,” she said. “When they do not have that [support system] it causes flare ups in their anxiety and depression.”

With about 100 students on campus who are either in quarantine or isolation, Heman said it is very important to keep everything as normal as possible to keep mental stability.

“Finding a way to keep in contact with your friends and family is usually a good first step,” Hemann said. “Finding activities to distract yourself and waste the time is also a big thing.”

Hemann added she wants students who may be struggling right now in isolation or quarantine to remember that there is an end to quarantine and it will not go on forever.

Both Pratt and Ford said that students have nothing to worry about if they end up having to quarantine at the university.

“If you do end up getting COVID-19, do not worry about the isolation period,” Ford said. “If you want to keep the people around you safe it is something you just have to go through. If you give yourself things to do and if you find things to entertain yourself then you will get through the period of isolation in a good way.”