For some individuals, being trapped inside alone with your thoughts for days at a time sounds like a nightmare. For others, solitude appears to be a great opportunity to relax and get rest. Regardless of how students may feel, as Oklahoma Christian University remains open in the face of a pandemic, quarantine and its accompanying isolation could become a common occurrence for students across campus. However, as quarantine emerges as a staple of the 2020 collegiate experience, the process and isolation’s impacts may be misunderstood by those who have not lived it. Thus, after spending 11 days in quarantine, Allison deWeirdt, a senior interior architecture major, agreed to share her experience with COVID-19 quarantining and her thoughts on how Oklahoma Christian is conducting its quarantine process.
Can you share how you came into contact with COVID-19?
“I was on the swim team and there was a small outbreak on the team. I think about 40 of us got put in quarantine and I was one of the unlucky ones who had [COVID-19]. I also have an autoimmune disease which makes me more susceptible.”
What were your COVID-19 symptoms like? How severe were they?
“It was really interesting. I got it on a Wednesday, or I started feeling bad on a Wednesday. That Wednesday morning, I went to class and everything was normal. I led a women’s swim team chapel, completely fine. Later I took a nap and when I woke up, I thought I was dying. I had a sore throat, nausea, fatigue, I didn’t lose my taste, which was good, but I threw up which was [not good]. I had like a 104 degree fever.”
Once you were experiencing symptoms, what did you do in terms of contacting the administration?
“I immediately contacted Sydney Postier. She’s our athletic trainer, and I told her because I knew I had been in contact with someone who was now in quarantine. Before I even felt bad I contacted her and said, ‘Hey, I know I was in contact with this person. What do I do?’ And she told me to go into self-isolation immediately. So, once I woke up with symptoms I immediately emailed Shawna [Hood] and she got back to me really fast. I think it was midnight that night. Housing let me know I was moving out.”
How did moving out work?
“Basically, Housing said, ‘Here’s your new room assignment. The key card’s on the counter. Get all your stuff and get out as soon as possible.’ I tried to grab cooking stuff, and then clothes, and all my school work of course. I was moved out in two trips.”
Did you move in with a roommate?
“I was in quarantine alone for six days. And then one of the other girls in my apartment tested positive, so I got a roommate.”
What were your days in solitude like?
“Honestly, the first 2-3 days were completely fine because I got over my symptoms within 12 hours. … So, I was catching up on homework and sleep. I was happy. And then, by day 4, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’d like to get out.’ But [the COVID-19 response team] actually allowed us to go on walks if we had a mask on and were alone. I ended up walking like 10 miles a day because I was so bored.”
How did having a roommate change things?
“It wasn’t that bad anymore. I mean we were both still bored in quarantine but I finally had someone to talk to.”
How did isolation impact your mental/emotional health?
“Not nearly as bad as I thought. The first couple days were honestly a relief because I was already behind on homework so to have the ability to catch up was a blessing in disguise. The weirdest thing that happened was the day I got out and I saw people. I felt weird. I didn’t know how to communicate with them. And that’s when I finally saw this actually had an impact on me because I could not communicate with multiple people at a time. I mean, that went away in a day but it was that first interaction. And I’m an extraverted, loud person, I was so quiet.”
How did you feel Oklahoma Christian did with providing you with what you needed during quarantine?
“I actually had an interesting experience with this because I don’t have a meal plan so they couldn’t bring me food. Neil Arter was really helpful with trying to set up someone to bring me groceries, and eventually it was my coach who just brought me groceries. I think for the average student who does get meals delivered to them … it’s super easy. But for me, I moved into the apartment, I have minimal cooking equipment [and supplies]. Just little things like, you don’t have a microwave so you can’t get anything microwavable. So that was a bit difficult for me but I got it figured out.”
So, overall do you believe that Oklahoma Christian did a good job with managing your quarantine experience?