Best of Luck, Belden: The cost of quarantining entire buildings

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Following medical quarantines of Garrigus Hall and Eddy Hall, as well as the requested quarantine of University of Connecticut students in the Oaks, Belden Hall has joined the ranks of entire buildings placed under restrictions due to positive COVID-19 cases in the building. It is now clear that this is how UConn intends to slow the spread of disease on campus both in the fall and likely continuing into the spring semester. 

Belden and Eddy were each quarantined after UConn detected fewer than 10 cases in the building. While this may seem like a hasty move, it does show a commitment to public health and safety. We have seen how fast the novel coronavirus spreads, and locking down virus hotspots quickly is key to preventing this spread. We have seen how effective it can be, too: Once buildings are placed in quarantine, active case numbers drop. 

Ultimately, UConn is showing a very proactive approach to reopening campus in a cautious and safe manner. However, we should also take a critical look in how this reopening affects the lives of students who live in quarantined buildings.  

Willard C. Eddy Hall at the University of Connecticut is under medical quarantine at this time. The adjacent building, Belden Hall, is also in quarantine. Photo by Mike Mavredakis/The Daily Campus

As reasonable as it may seem to the university to quarantine a building, they must consider the impact of those decisions on students. Even at reduced capacity, Belden Hall holds 93 students. Those students must now find accommodations for any in-person classes, coverage for jobs, alternatives for socializing and life. They may feel isolated or frustrated, annoyed that they have to put their lives on hold because of the actions of others. The same goes for the 97 residents of Eddy, and the same went for the 270 residents of Garrigus

And they can be frustrated with the decision while also thinking UConn is right for making it. Yes, everyone at UConn is aware how vitally important it is to the campus to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are all aware that sacrifices have been and continue to be made for this. It’s just important to also support those who are affected by these decisions. Whether that’s by checking in with quarantined students regularly to see how they’re holding up or by providing more resources on how to adapt their class and work schedule, it’s on both the administration and our campus community to work together through these quarantines. 

Compared to many other universities around the country, UConn is doing an amazing job in containing the coronavirus on campus. No one expected us to stay open this far, and now it seems likely we will last through to Thanksgiving. Along the way, though, students have been forced to make many sacrifices. It is critical that we as a university and community remember to respect and take care of these people whose lives are personally shaken up.  

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