Covid-19 and dorm life: What if a student tests positive?
Updated: May 6
What are the procedures if a student in the dorms tests positive? And what is Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford doing to prevent the spread of Covid-19?
By Johannes Becht
With Fall 2020 semester approaching fast and more and more students moving into the dormitories, an important question pops up: What if a SWOSU student who lives in the dorms gets tested positive for Covid-19? And how do Residence Advisors (RA), Housing Coordinators and others try to ensure the safety of students?
What happens if a student is tested positive?
"If a student tests positive, our first plan of action will always be to send that student home until they recover. They will not be allowed to stay in their room in the residence hall," Jason Barr, Assistant Director of Residence Life & Housing, says.
Some students, however, don't have the opportunity to return home. In this event, several apartments in family housing are ready for them to live in.
"This will allow them to recover in a safe, isolated environment away from the general population," Barr states.
Roommate must quarantine and get tested
Most of the students living in the dorms have a roommate. In case of a positive Covid-19 test result, the roommate will be asked to get tested as well. However, the roommate will not be asked to leave unless they also test positive, according to Barr.
In the event of a positive Covid-19 case, "visitors and other people that the student who tested positive came in to contact with will be made aware by the proper authorities and we will address the situation moving forward based on guidelines set in place by the CDC and state and county health officials."
What SWOSU is doing to prevent the spread
Barr: "All residents will be given a customized, washable mask upon move-in. We will also have hand sanitizer available throughout the halls. In addition, our RA’s will make several rounds a day through the building sanitizing high traffic areas. Also, our custodial staff will be paying extra attention to such areas. We have purchased high quality cleaning supplies specifically for those areas." Those areas include for example bathrooms/showers and elevators.
Where exactly do I have to wear a mask?
It's pretty simple. Once a student leaves the room, wearing a mask is required, regardless if people are around or not. This rule will be strictly enforced.
"It is not just a Residence Life police, but a school policy," Barr affirms. "A student seen not wearing their mask will first be given a verbal warning and asked to put their mask on. If they continue to violate the policy, a student will face additional discipline, which could include coming before the Residence Life Judicial Board or possibly the Dean."
Save lives - wear a mask!
Wearing masks is required not only in the dorms, but in all buildings on campus. Facial coverings are one of the few options available to keep businesses and schools open, while at the same time preventing Covid-19 from spreading too much and thereby overwhelming the healthcare system and hospital capacities. Save lives - wear a mask!