UCA’s quarantine residence hall and off-campus isolation housing has worked since the beginning of the fall semester to keep coronavirus cases low on campus.
The university has reported 263 total COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 28..
Associate Director for Housing and Residence Life Craig Seager said the Student Health Center is working with Housing and Residence Life to make the process efficient for students and staff.
If students believe they have been exposed to COVID-19, they are able to call Student Health where workers will fill out information in a shared Google document that housing staff can see. This helps front desk workers at Carmichael Hall know who to expect beforehand.
Carmichael Hall is serving as quarantine housing on campus for the fall semester. Carmichael was expected to be shut down for the 2020-2021 school year due to undergoing renovations, but finished during the summer, Seager said.
“We were fortunate to have a building to be able to do that,” Seager said. “A lot of schools don’t have that option, so I think that has kind of helped a lot with slowing the spread.”
Students who quarantine in Carmichael Hall are considered closed-contact, which means they are considered healthy. After showing symptoms, students are moved to isolation housing off-campus.
The biggest difference in operation between other residence halls and Carmichael Hall is that it has a 24-hour service desk, Seager said.
“We’ve taken precautionary measures with plexiglass and different things of that nature for our desk assistants as well as our residents,” Assistant Director for Residence Life Sherita Kern said.
The lobby is open in the residence hall but students are encouraged not to be there in order to make sure they are in quarantine for a short time, Kern said.
“We know it’s an inconvenience,” Kern said. “We want them to do their 14 days and then not have to stay any longer so they can return back to their normal residence hall.”
Each room in Carmichael Hall houses one person in order to minimize any possible spread, Kern said.
The student capacity in Carmichael is broken down into three phases, but so far it has not moved past phase one, Seager said. Phase one allows all students to have private bathrooms, and phase three would call for students to share bathrooms due to capacity.
“They’ve worked really, really hard to make sure we keep this under control,” he said.
The staff overseeing operations have been holding meetings every week to plan for the future in case things change, Kern said.
Meetings are held to plan what things would look like moving forward, how to keep students safe and coordinate meals with Aramark and having them delivered, Seager said.
There are also contact tracers working on campus to track down people who might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 48 hours. Most contact tracers are student workers on campus who have gone through training and are pursuing a career in the medical field, Kern said.
The responsibility students are taking to social distance and wear masks makes is a large part of why COVID-19 cases on campus are low.
“In big letters, please be responsible,” Kern said. “We are only as strong as our students and your actions, so if we want to continue setting those standards for college campuses in Arkansas, then we have to keep doing our part.”