Does testing positive for COVID-19 mean you should leave quarantine and move back in with your roommates? At UC Santa Cruz, it’s a tougher question than you may think.
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a phone call and email with further instructions from the Student Health Center (SHC). Some students are directed to stay in the Village, while others are told they will be staying at the Four Points hotel in Scotts Valley.
Quarantined students receive a PDF with a list of phone numbers and instructions for who to call, but first-year student Chance Cayetano-Fantom, along with many other students, have had struggles getting into contact with authorities while in isolation.
“It was like, call this number and when we did it was either a voicemail or a person giving us a reference to another phone number. It was a week’s battle just trying to get one answer,” said Cayetano-Fantom, who recently quarantined at the Village.
UCSC has been quarantining students in the Village since the start of COVID-19. With COVID-19 cases across California bringing a looming uncertainty, the campus requires students to get tested regularly regardless of their vaccination status in order to ensure safety on campus and to keep track of the cases.
Some COVID-19 positive students have had a complicated time with transportation, receiving the promised supplies, and getting into contact with people when quarantining.
“I felt like the system was very disorganized, because even before I arrived, it was almost three or four days worth of hassle just trying to get a room to get isolated,” said Cayetano-Fantom, who also shared that he called administration more than six times in the span of roughly 50 hours while attempting to get quarantined.
When Cayetano-Fantom was finally able to get a room, he didn’t receive bath towels or other toiletries that he was expecting. What he did receive were disinfectant wipes, a water kettle, tissues, and paper towels.
Students are also supposed to receive a testing kit for the fifth day of their quarantine stay so they can test negative and leave, but there is no monitoring or enforcement of this guideline.
“When I was four and a half days, I literally just called their cab,” Cayetano-Fantom shared. “There really wasn’t any follow up.”
While he was leaving quarantine, one building over, a pair of Stevenson first-years were just beginning their isolation journey.
Kiana Miller had an inconclusive test result on Jan. 15, but began to feel symptoms and opted to call the SHC to quarantine. Three days after her test, Miller moved into the Village, where she was assigned a quarantine roommate, despite her Stevenson roommate also being in quarantine at the same location. Miller opted to move in with her dorm roommate anyway to begin the quarantine process.
“When you first arrive, you’re supposed to get a bag full of pre-packaged food and everything. I didn’t get that,” Miller said.
Issues getting food also plagued Miller’s roommate Bailey Thompson, who had to fight for hot meals she didn’t receive.
“I didn’t have my food. I’m a college student, I don’t have time for a job. I don’t have money for DoorDash,” said Thompson. “I had to basically argue with this person who was telling me that my food was dropped off. They were rude, they hung up on me. I was speaking, and they hung up on me.”
Thompson eventually tested negative and was able to leave. Miller, however, tested positive while trying to leave, and as a result had to quarantine longer.
Due to the cramped nature of the Village accommodations, Miller requested to be transferred out of the Village to a hotel, but didn’t leave without her fair share of problems.
Miller surmised that the Village spaces weren’t being properly sanitized until all quarantining students left. As a result, she was expected to quarantine in the trash-filled lobby for an additional five days. However, her request was successful, and a taxi brought her to the Four Points hotel in Scotts Valley.
“I hadn’t left the room [at the Village] that much, I only went to the bathroom. I didn’t really use the kitchen out there. When I went out, it smelled horrible. There was trash piled up from all the people who had been there before. It was disgusting,” Miller said.
For Miller, the Four Points experience far and away outdid the Village’s, if only for the jump in space and sanitation.
Meredith Moore, a first-year student from Crown, also quarantined at the the Four Points hotel. Like Thompson, Moore initially had issues getting food while in quarantine.
“I didn’t get any meals that [first] day until dinner and I don’t know if that was on me, or just like an error on the hotel,” said Moore, before giving the review, “It was edible.”
Moore managed to clear up logistics enough to receive food and had an uneventful rest of her quarantine stay. However, when it came time to leave, she was still feeling symptoms. Most students had to test negative out of quarantine to leave.
“It showed negative the second time I took it, but the first time it came out positive, and I asked, ‘I have a positive test. So should I quarantine longer?’” said Moore.
Moore was sent back to her dorm and her roommates with symptoms and a recent positive result. Under the circumstances, Moore did her best to protect her floormates by quarantining with a friend whose roommates weren’t on campus at the time.
These UCSC students are just a few of the many who have had to isolate themselves at either the Village or the Four Points hotel this winter quarter. They have suffered from complications and confusion with the quarantine reality.
“It was quite a frustrating process,” Cayetano-Fantom said. “I was trying to figure it all out. It wasn’t very clear what they wanted me to do as an individual in order to isolate myself properly. And it wasn’t clear on how I was going to be taken care of throughout the entire stay.”
Though COVID-19’s severity has subsided, new variants can always send our world spinning once again, placing students back in the quarantine conditions from when the pandemic was at its worst this year.