Quarantine and Isolation Plans for Winter Term

As we look toward the limited resumption of in-person learning in January, we write to provide some detailed information about the College’s quarantine and isolation (QI) plans. As with all of our COVID-19-related practices, QI housing plans are aligned with public health guidance and may change if/as recommendations change.The College has set aside space in campus housing to quarantine and isolate students living in the residence halls who require it, based on COVID-19 testing results or exposure/contact with others who have contracted the virus. Students who live off campus and need to quarantine or isolate will be provided guidance from the Student Health Center (SHC) about how to do so in their living spaces. The SHC has provided such guidance to off-campus students this fall. They will not be housed in campus QI spaces. Designated COVID-19 Care Coordinators (CCC) have been appointed and will manage the logistics of ensuring that students who transition to QI housing have the support they need. This includes coordinating communication with dining, residential life, campus safety, and faculty, among others. QI housing space comprises small, home-like environments and include kitchens for food and snack preparation. (Meals and snacks will be delivered to QI students daily.) These spaces will also be provided with cleaning supplies compliant with guidance from the CDC. Students in QI spaces will be in daily communication with CCC and/or SHC staff. The College will work in concert with the Kalamazoo County Health Department on contact tracing. 

Expectations for students: 

  • Comply with directives for quarantine and isolation from campus health officials. This includes relocating to QI housing promptly and following all directions for the duration of time in QI housing.
  • Respond quickly and honestly to contact tracing efforts.
  • Prepare a “go bag,” including your own bedding and towels, study materials/resources, and items to help pass leisure time. Having this ready ensures the quickest possible response to health guidance.
  • Take seriously your responsibility in QI to protect others by keeping your distance, wearing a mask, and cleaning up after your use of shared facilities (kitchens, bathrooms) with the supplies provided.
  • Stay in communication with CCC and Student Health Center (SHC) staff, as appropriate. 
  • Stay in QI housing until approved for return to regular housing assignments, do not invite visitors (including family members) to QI space and do not visit others while in QI housing.
  • Stay in regular communication with your family and loved ones. 
  • Do not “cheat” time requirements for QI because you are tired of the restrictions, as this puts others at risk. 

Expectations for families: 

  • Support good planning by your student (preparing a go bag, for example). 
  • Support guidance and direction from the College, including participation in contact tracing efforts.
  • Stay in regular communication with your student as they will have the best information about their health status.
  • Do not plan to visit your student on campus, in their regular housing location or in QI housing.
  • Make and finalize explicit plans regarding a student who has contracted or been exposed to the virus. Please see below.

If you plan to quarantine or isolate at home with family, plan now for safety measures:

  • How quickly can you leave campus? Prompt action (within a few hours) is a key to mitigating the spread of the virus.
  • How will you travel? Public transportation places others at risk if you are infected or have been exposed. If travelling by car, create as much space and ventilation as possible, ensure that all occupants wear masks, and do not stop once the infected/exposed person is in the car.  
  • How will you minimize risk to loved ones at home? How will you minimize physical proximity to vulnerable people (due to age or underlying health conditions) at home?

The College has planned for QI housing carefully, and we ask that you do the same. Please prepare for the winter term as if you will contract the virus. If you will consider returning home for QI care, please make concrete, explicit plans now so that you don’t have to do so in the midst of making other medical decisions.Other campuses have experienced students and families attempting to “game” QI housing—by arguing about test results, by being dishonest about contact/exposure, and by demanding multiple tests to “test out” of QI status. Our limited human and testing resources require that all of us come to campus prepared to comply with the plans that are in place. They are designed to ensure as much safety as possible, and they will not work without cooperation across the board.We will expect prompt, cooperative response to health directives; specific protocols will be shared with students who require QI housing once on campus.Finally, the month of December includes traditional times for family and other gatherings. Such gatherings enable the virus to spread quickly. If you plan to be on campus, living in a residence hall, attending classes, or using campus resources, we implore you to adhere closely to public health guidance in the weeks prior to the start of classes. Wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, keeping physically distant from others, and practicing good hand hygiene are all proven methods of minimizing the spread of the virus. They also give us the best chance of a successful winter term back on campus. We also strongly encourage you to get a flu shot prior to coming to campus, if you haven’t already. This will minimize the risk of having multiple respiratory outbreaks on campus or putting additional strain on testing and health center resources, as the symptoms are very similar to COVID-19.We know that this pandemic is an ongoing source of uncertainty for many people. By providing options to return to campus for winter term or to continue learning remotely, we seek to provide agency for each student and family to determine the best option for their individual situation. For those who are returning to campus, it is imperative that all of us, individually and collectively, follow campus protocols and public health guidance so that we can protect the hive. 

Sarah B. Westfall
Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students

Danette Ifert Johnson