Ball State student reflects on quarantine experience on campus

<p>The Brayton/Clevenger wing of LaFollette stands separate from the demolition of other wings Sept. 3, 2020. On-campus students who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated in Brayton/Clevenger. <strong>Grace McCormick, DN</strong></p>

The Brayton/Clevenger wing of LaFollette stands separate from the demolition of other wings Sept. 3, 2020. On-campus students who test positive for COVID-19 are isolated in Brayton/Clevenger. Grace McCormick, DN

Moriah Morgan, freshman political science major, thought her perfume had expired Sept. 1 because she couldn’t smell it. Days before, she had a sore throat and a cough.

“I just figured it was strep [throat], but then it had kind of gone away before I had lost my sense of smell,” she said.

Morgan decided to get tested for COVID-19 the same day at Worthen Arena. The next evening, she received an email notifying her she tested positive.

“I got an email from the dean at 10:30 Wednesday night saying don’t leave my dorm, stay quarantined and isolated from people, and I’d be transferred in the morning,” she said.

Morgan said she wasn’t told where she would be isolated until about 8:45 a.m. Sept. 3, though she had all her items packed by 4 that same morning.

Cathy Bickel, associate director of housing and residence life, said information regarding which students need to quarantine or isolate comes from IU Health, contact tracers or self-reported test results.

“For example, a student could say, ‘My roommate is getting tested. I think I should get tested, but I don't have any symptoms’ or ‘I was at some place, and somebody said they were positive, and I didn't know and I'm concerned.’ They can report that, and we will put them in [quarantine],”Bickel said.

Residence hall directors will contact the student, Bickel said, and an email from the Dean of Students Office will be sent to the student detailing information about their quarantine.

Once students have been notified, residence hall directors will talk to the student to make arrangements for quarantine, she said. Students can choose to either quarantine on campus or go home to quarantine.

“They wanted me to take all of my stuff for the next two weeks across campus by myself … There was no way I was going to carry four bags full of stuff along with my blankets [and] pillows,” Morgan said. “Around 2 p.m., they tried to give me a car, but I don’t have my license, so that didn’t work out for me.”

Bickel said if students cannot get a ride from their current residence to their isolation area, there is a bus system in place that will take students.

Morgan said she was able to find another student who was also beginning isolation in LaFollette that day who was able to pick her up from Kinghorn Hall later in the afternoon.

“Honestly, I cried when I got [to LaFollette],” she said. “I was stressed out because I wasn’t given any information on how things were going to work, how long I was supposed to quarantine myself … I hadn’t received any information at all, so I was overwhelmed trying to figure things out myself.”

The university had information regarding on-campus quarantine procedures available on its website before students returned to campus. The website states, “If you stay on campus, you will be provided with someone to be a resource to you throughout your quarantine and isolation.” However, Morgan said she had to reach out to her hall director at Kinghorn with questions before she was able to get help and understand the process.

Morgan said she arrived in her LaFollette room to meet her roommate, who was finishing her last day of isolation.

“I was told in the email that I was going to have a roommate, which had confused me because how is that isolation if I’m going to have a roommate?” Morgan said. 

In the email notifying her of her positive test, she said, there was a link to write in meal plan information, but Morgan didn’t know the form’s deadline.

“[My roommate] told me I was supposed to have the meal plan completed by 7 a.m., which I was not made aware of, and that I wouldn’t be getting dinner,” Morgan said. “I was really upset about that because I didn’t find out what hall I was going to be in until after 8 [a.m.] and filled out the meal plan around 9.”

After her first night, Morgan said, she completed the meal plan form on time.

“They didn’t deliver the food until 11:40 a.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I didn’t get breakfast early,” she said. “They asked you if you had any special requests, but there wasn’t a menu or anything. From the boxes that I’ve gotten, they just give us random things.”

For the remaining days of her isolation, Morgan said, she got used to LaFollette’s conditions, but she thought the halls were frightening.

“The whole hall just looks scary as a whole. It’s dimly lit, and it’s just empty halls everywhere,” she said. “When I first got in my room, my light took five minutes to turn on after I flipped the switch.”

Morgan said she only saw maintenance workers once a day. Unless there is a facility emergency, Bickel said, there are normally one or two maintenance workers who go into Brayton/Clevenger.

For amenities, such as toilet paper, if a student is in quarantine for a possible positive case, it can be brought to their door, but if a student is in isolation for a positive case, supplies are stockpiled so they don’t run out, Bickel said. There is a number they can call if they need something or have concerns.

In the case of a medical emergency, Bickel said that in the past, students had either alerted Ball State or called 911.

Morgan said by tracking her symptoms, which started in late August and had gone away by Sept. 5, she was able to end her 10-day isolation earlier than expected Sept. 6.

Contact Grace McCormick with comments at or on Twitter @graceMc564. Contact Charles Melton with comments at or on Twitter @Cmelton144.


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