“I have some not-so-good news.”
Rebeckah Dell’s words rang in my ears as I packed clothes, books, snacks — everything I would need for two weeks. I was going to quarantine.
I grabbed my bags and drove to the townhouses. Unit 3.
Health Care Liaison Stephanie Gravel was waiting to show me my home for the next 14 days. As I walked up the stairs to my penthouse abode, four eager heads poked their masked heads out of doors.
Thankfully, I knew all of them: Gracyn Howard, yoga extraordinaire; Anna Katherine Daley, resident comic relief; Natalie Walters, the troublemaker; and one other friend of mine.
I dropped my stuff off in room 38 and went downstairs for a distanced pow wow with the girls. While we aren’t allowed to have physical contact with each other, we can interact with masks on.
I was told the general feeling about welcoming me into the house was comparable to how Anne Frank must’ve felt inviting people into her house. A dramatic take.
Now, with more than five days under my belt, I can tell you that it’s not easy. I miss my friends. I miss my church. I miss my clothes.
I’m sure we were all in “quarantine” at one point over the summer, but this is the big leagues. Every day, we get three meals delivered to us. We can go downstairs to the kitchen for snacks, but we’re discouraged from staying for long. We can’t open our windows, because the ionization system runs through the air ducts. We’re allowed staggered outside time in a tent, but we can’t step outside its boundaries.
We have a nightly recap in the house to discuss our highs and lows of the day — our “hills and dales.” We decided on one hill and one dale to describe our experience so far. Our hill: bonding time. Our dale: online shopping efforts have been thwarted by UPS, which refuses to deliver to our door.
We have a group chat, named “magic in the townhouses,” where we keep each other updated on the day’s happenings. Some highlights:
“Did anyone hear that kid walking by say ‘this is the place that is filled with COVID?’”
“Do my eyes deceive me or did Ken Koopmans just pull up and deliver Taco Bell to one of you?”
“Quarantine is high school all over again. Homework on a Friday night, sober weekends, and apparently the state of Michigan thinks I’m playing hard to get because it won’t call me.”
“When are we initiating our quarantine sorority? Our quarority if you will?”
Our quarority is now up to seven members. We’ve instated Associate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers as risk management, Gravel as House Mother, and the guy who tested positive as our recruitment chair. So far, he’s done a great job recruiting.
Overall, things have been manageable in the house. Chief visits us daily, we have access to groceries, and while it’s not ideal, these 14 days will pass.
The biggest threat to our mental health right now is coming from outside our quarantine bubble. It’s the rumor mongering: false claims that multiple Greek houses are responsible for an impending outbreak, a high volume of people have tested positive, and the college is keeping students in the dark about numbers.
I’m on the inside, and I can tell you none of those rumors are true.
On Thursday night, there was an off-campus event. The guests included patient zero (yes, he knows I’m calling him this), some of his fraternity brothers, and some sorority members.
The school is taking precautionary measures and has quarantined many of the people in contact with the positive case. The criteria for quarantined students is this: contact with a positive case within six feet for more than 15 minutes, or any physical contact.
Three of my friends and I are in quarantine because we side hugged the person who tested positive. The other girls are in this unit because they were with the positive case for more than 15 minutes two nights before the event.
Anyone could have been in our position. All it takes is one handshake, one high-five, or one hug. Yes, I went to an event and didn’t socially distance or wear a mask. But if I had to guess, I’d say you’ve done the same in the last few weeks. You don’t need to lecture us because our moms already have.
Personal accountability has been a large part of Hillsdale’s return-plan, and at least half the people locked up are in quarantine because we made the conscious decision to call the deans ourselves.
For the next 14 days, we’re confined to a townhouse, unable to open windows, go outside, workout, have physical contact, or attend in-person classes — we’re dealing with the consequences of our decisions. In the meantime, we’ll keep the hugs to a minimum.
Haley Strack is a sophomore studying political economy.