COVID-19 care team supports on-campus students in isolation, quarantine

Kansas State's COVID Care Team works to relocate on-campus students in contact with COVID-19 cases to housing in Jardine Apartments. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

When students living on campus test positive for COVID-19 or have to quarantine due to close contact, the COVID-19 care team relocates them to the Jardine Apartments to complete their two-week isolation time.

Nicholas Lander, associate director of housing and dining services, said some students choose to go home for their isolation or quarantine time — the situation varies depending on each student’s situation. At one time, the care team could have anywhere from 60 and 100 students relocated to Jardine.

“If they’re in isolation because they’ve tested positive, they actually can be housed with other positive cases, but if they’re in quarantine, then typically they would live by themselves during that time frame,” Lander said.

The care team delivers students lunch seven days a week and dinner Monday through Friday, and the apartments are preloaded with extra food and snacks.

While the team has around five people involved in day-to-day delivery and check-ins, Lander said they couldn’t operate without helping hands across campus.

“Our efforts are extended out to a lot of people,” Lander said. “So in [housing and] dining services for example, they’re preparing many meals for us to deliver and so they’ve got staff that are dedicated to doing what is necessary to serve these students. Our housekeeping staff, they have to clean apartments way more frequently than usual in order to prepare those.”

Anya Pohl, freshman in communication sciences and disorders, tested positive and relocated to Jardine to avoid returning home and exposing her family.

“Some people had said, ‘Maybe go home, then you’re in your own environment and that way you can heal better,’ but I didn’t really want to expose any of my family members because I have high-risk family, so I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just go to Jardine,’” Pohl said.

Despite the unfortunate circumstance of contracting COVID-19, Pohl was thankful for the support and noted the importance of this operation to be able to have in-person classes.

“I’m glad we have this team because it definitely is helpful, and because of this system we have and making sure the students are isolated and taken care of, we’ve been able to stay this way so long,” Pohl said.

Shenay Atene, a care team member, joined the team a few weeks ago when the team needed more workers to keep up.

“I just wanted to be someone there to help in the time of need,” Atene said. “Just being there to be a helping hand and make sure everyone is OK during this time because not everyone has support, like, their families are several states away or across the country or from a different country so it’s just nice to be there for them.”

Atene enjoys having the opportunity to connect with the students. Lander encouraged students to continue making good choices regarding social distancing.

“Wearing a mask obviously is important, and I think students have done a pretty good job with that,” Lander said. “The social distancing aspect, especially if they’re eating together, if they can spread out a little bit more, that will help them avoid having to go to quarantine if they test positive or if their friend tests positive.”