COVID-19 cases worry some UI students living in residence halls

Some students have expressed concern over how the UI is dealing with COVID-19 cases in residence halls.


Johnny Jarnagin

Photo illustration of a face mask in Burge Residence Hall on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2022.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

After Johnson County moved into a medium community level of COVD-19 from a low level on Sept. 7, some University of Iowa students living in residence halls noted that the number of student’s with COVDI-19 in the dorms spiked.

Johnson County reported 293 COVID-19 cases between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5.

Previously, UI students with COVID-19 quarantined in isolation dorms to halt the spread of the virus.

Director of Housing Administration Virginia Ibrahim-Olin wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that isolation rooms are no longer a viable option for the university.

“Due to the number of students living in the residence halls, University Housing and Dining is not offering quarantine and isolation housing this academic year,” Ibrahim-Olin wrote.

Ibrahim-Olin wrote students living in the residence halls were informed of this change before the start of the academic year. Students were also issued a new contract binding date that allowed them more time to cancel their housing contract if they felt uncomfortable with this change.

In August, the university opted to discontinue its self-reporting tool for students and faculty to report infections.

Like the UI, other U.S. state universities, such as the University of Illinois, advise students to isolate independently because of limited campus isolation spaces.

Some UI students feel the university could do more to help accommodate students who test positive in the dorms.

Third-year UI student Amin Elkeurti recently tested positive for COVID-19 while living in the dorms. Elkeurti said he got a PCR COVID-19 test at UI QuickCare, a walk-in clinic.

He said he wishes the university offered a bit more help to students who test positive with COVID-19.

“It was weird. I mean, why don’t they have any isolation rooms?” Elkeurti said. “But at the same time, it did make sense because they had a lot of people this year, at least moving into the dorms and stuff. But still, I wish they had something.”

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First-year UI student Jessica Cygan said, while it was a bit concerning to see some of her professors getting sick and having to teach over Zoom, she is not concerned about catching COVID-19 herself.

“I was a little concerned after I found out some of the people on our floor had COVID-19 because I don’t really want to run into anybody,” Cygan said. “And then it’s like, we’re sharing bathrooms, but not really [concerned].”

Cygan said the UI’s current policies regarding COVID-19 are appropriate for the time being, and the university will respond accordingly to any major spikes in cases.

“I think that if COVID-19 starts getting even worse, I feel like they’re going to handle it well,” Cygan said. “I’ll just follow whatever the university says.”