COVID-positive students left confused about isolation protocols

Krystal Miller, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included the mention of Hartford HealthCare in regard to Quinnipiac’s COVID management. Vice President of Marketing and Communications Daryl Richard confirmed the university’s contract with Hartford HealthCare is not effective until July 2022.

Despite Quinnipiac University’s efforts to increase student access to COVID-19 testing, students who have already tested positive this semester said they are confused about isolation protocols on campus. 

As of publication, Quinnipiac currently has 23 active cases, with a total of 34 new cases identified over the last seven days, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

With the increased availability of rapid at-home antigen tests, Senior Medical Advisor Dr. David Hill said engaging in partnership with students and the community and increasing the level of trust between students and administration is the only way to keep students accountable for uploading positive tests. 

“We don’t always know (if a student tests positive) and certainly if a student wants to hide the fact that they turned positive they are able to do that, but hopefully they think about the consequences for their roommates and their classrooms,” Hill said. 

The personal protective equipment vending machine that Quinnipiac plans to install in the Mount Carmel Student Health Services the week of Feb. 14, will make testing more accessible for students exposed or experiencing symptoms. There will be a limit of three free tests per student tracked by swiping Q-cards, with no charge to meal points or Q-cash, Hill said.

Students can also get tested using, as the federal government has begun to distribute free rapid tests that are mailed to homes within 7-14 days of order. Four tests are obtainable for each household, and students can utilize their Quinnipiac mailing address to order them.

Illustration by Peyton McKenzie

However, Hill said that PCR tests wouldn’t be used when returning to campus after testing positive because of the sensitivity.

“It is recommended you don’t use a PCR for 90 days (after COVID-19 recovery) because it is so sensitive,” Hill said. “It picks up little tiny remnants of the virus but those remnants do not mean the virus can multiply, that it can grow, that it can infect another person.” 

If a vaccinated student is exposed to COVID-19, they are required to wear a mask in public spaces, keep track of any symptoms and retest on day five. If a student is unvaccinated, they will have to go into quarantine, Hill said. 

“If we knew that a student tested positive and they were in a residential suite, we would consider all those individuals’ contacts and we would look at their vaccination status,” Hill said.

Jenna Coppola, a junior occupational therapy major, made an appointment right away and took a rapid test on campus. Student Health Services sent her home with a rapid test to use after her isolation period. 

Coppola said did not have any issues uploading her tests and the Student Health Center gave her documentation to share with her professors. 

After her isolation period was over, Coppola said she took another rapid test and remained positive, but based on Quinnipiac’s policy, she was instructed to return to class. 

“​​I understand the need to go back to receiving in-person instruction rather than Zoom class,” Coppola said. “However, I still feel like I’m exposing my peers as well as professors by going back.” 

Rose-Ellen Kane, a 3+3 second-year law and society major, was exposed to COVID-19 and decided to test before the fifth day of exposure to not risk others. She said Student Health Services did not tell her to upload her results until she asked herself. 

“It wasn’t the fifth day for my exposure yet, but I had a bunch of classes that day that I was near people,” Kane said. “I wanted to test that day just in case, which ended up being positive so it was a good thing.” 

Kane said her original phone call with Student Health Services was helpful. offering options of quarantine housing or going home. Kane said the second call, however, was more stressful.

“I was driving home and a different lady called me from the Student Health Services, and she was completely unhelpful,” Kane said. “She was asking me things I’ve already told them, they definitely already had it all on record, like my three other suitemates who tested positive, she was going through all of my roommates. I was trying to drive.”

Alyssa Arends, a sophomore political science major, said she also had communication issues with health services over the phone after remaining positive on day five of her isolation. 

Arends called to confirm she had to wait 48 hours, but the nurse said seven days. 

“I asked the nurse to clarify like three times like, ‘Are you sure you’re talking about Monday, Feb. 7, because that’s seven days from today,’” Arends said. 

She called again and was told the nurse who she previously spoke to was from another company working with Quinnipiac, which is what Student Health Services said caused the miscommunication. 

“They’re still affiliated with Quinnipiac, as Quinnipiac has hired them, so to me I think they should be very familiar with the code policy,” Arends said.

The email of the booster clinic survey and spring isolation policies from Jan. 20, states that Student Health Services does not require students to test on day seven of isolation. However, for precaution, Arends uploaded her positive test and said she was told to isolate for 24 hours and return to campus on the weekend of her eighth day.

“I’m still going to see what my result is on day 10,” Arends said. “Then I’ll call them and ask them to extend my virtual learning.” 

Quinnipiac does not require masks in dorms after isolation, but Arends said that because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a mask for 10 days, it should also be enforced on campus. 

“I was already planning on wearing my N95 mask around the dorm because the CDC recommends wearing a mask around the people you live up with up to 10 days after your original positive result, but I do not want to return to school if I am testing positive and potentially still contagious,” Arends said.

Both rapid tests and PCR tests are accepted to return to campus, but PCR tests are likely to show positive results at least 90 days after recovery from the antibodies of the virus. 

“One of my concerns is that the school is recommending to use rapid (tests) interchangeably with PCR tests and to me, at least being a non-science person, they don’t seem like they’re interchangeable,” Arends said.

Hill said most students who have contracted COVID-19 have opted to complete their quarantine at home to prevent spreading illness. 

“They certainly have the option to do that, but I don’t think any student wants to infect another student,” Hill said. “I don’t think that’s the goal of any student and if you can keep that in mind then hopefully you’ll do the right thing.”