A look at the COVID-19 isolation dorms at the University of South Dakota

KELOLAND.com Original

Courtesy of the University of South Dakota

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Many universities throughout the nation are combating COVID-19 in similar ways. One common method is having designated quarantine housing. The University of South Dakota is using this technique for students who test positive for coronavirus.

Kate Fitzgerald is the Director of Housing at the University of South Dakota. She said USD is working closely with local health care systems to do the best they can for their students. In doing so, there are many procedures put in place to ensure everyone’s safety, COVID-19 positive or not.

Fitzgerald explained what the university does when students have symptoms and are then tested for COVID-19.

“We assign them to a room that are rooms by themselves. We bring meals in twice a day, so we bring a warm lunch and a warm dinner to them. We get any kind of dietary need they to have to them. Then, we also have, the floor that they’re on, we have a kitchenette on that floor stocked with breakfast foods,” Fitzgerald said.

The kitchenette is also supplied with snack for the students. Everyone sharing the bathrooms and kitchen on that floor is in isolation too. Fitzgerald said if students need something printed for class, university workers print it and slide it under their door. If students receive a package from they deliver that to their door too, Fitzgerald said.

Three floors are dedicated to COVID-19 isolation at the university.

“They’re basically instructed to bring whatever they would need for the time period that they’re going to be there, which is usually not longer than two weeks. They bring their own bed linens, their clothing, computers, their textbooks, toiletries, whatever else they think they need,” Fitzgerald said.

Staff also offers a truck to help students move from their original dorm to their isolation dorm. Another service provided by USD is for off-campus students. The university staff can pickup and deliver groceries for people who test positive and are living in a house or apartment not on campus grounds.

However, students who live in the on-campus ‘apartments and suites’ (such as Coyote Village and McFadden) are allowed to stay quarantined where they’re currently living. The housing department does require them to wear masks in shared spaces with their roommates.

“So, they have to stay in their bedroom. If they, when they, use the restroom or kitchen, they have to wipe things down after them,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald talks with each student daily as well. She sends an email asking how they’re feeling and what else the university can do for them. A follow-up survey is also sent out after students leave isolation.

Parents also call to check in. Fitzgerald works with their concerns and helping deliver care packages for them too.

“We have an ionization system in the building that supposedly goes through the HVAC system, and from my understanding and I’m not a mechanical person, but I understand somehow it takes the hydrogen away from the virus so it can’t spread,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said USD has also hired a company to sanitize the isolation floor twice everyday.

“Anything we can do to make students and parents happy for those two weeks,” Fitzgerald said.


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