Students criticize mandatory two-week quarantine and fall housing plans

Monday, August 10, 2020 - 10:38pm

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The University of Michigan recently announced students must adhere to a mandatory two-week quarantine before they arrive on campus in the fall. This policy received criticism from students who are currently working and those who are living in on-campus housing. 

Business junior Kayla Hurd said in a tweet that the University’s reopening plans do not consider low-income students who have in-person jobs.


 

Business sophomore Madelyn Larson worked as a pool attendant all summer and said the announcement of the two-week quarantine came very late, not giving her enough time to give her boss a two-week advance notice.

“It was very much just a blanket statement,” Larson said. “I understand that (the administration) have obviously a lot going on … but I think that advance notice could have been given since they have known since March that there is a pandemic.”

LSA sophomore Riann English also voiced concerns about the mandatory quarantine, saying there was no way the University could determine whether someone has followed the proper protocol of enhanced social distancing. 

“I think, in theory, it’s a good idea, but in practice and in reality, (you) cannot control what people do,” English said. “You don’t know where other people have been or what they’re carrying.”

University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen directed The Daily in an email to the enhanced social distancing section of the announcement sent Monday. She also wrote that students who are in Ann Arbor are allowed to break their quarantine to work. 

“Students are not prohibited from working once they are in Ann Arbor,” Broekhuizen wrote. “This 14-day period of enhanced social distancing is designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as our students return to Ann Arbor from all over the country.”

Working on campus will also likely look different this fall as many campus employees — including students — will continue to work remotely if they are able. 

Larson further explained how the guideline puts low-income students at a disadvantage of contracting COVID-19 and losing pay.

“On top of the 1.9 percent tuition increase, the jobs that are available are much more likely to be in-person, necessary jobs which are obviously more risky and could lead to coming into contact with somebody who is positive (for COVID-19) and then you’re gonna have to take another two weeks (off),” Larson said.

Some students also expressed concerns about the upcoming semester and the risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading on campus, including in dorms and community spaces such as frat houses. LSA sophomore Rakira Urquhart said she was worried about the confined dorm spaces on campus.

“I know that the room sizes are like 12 by 12, so it just didn’t make sense to me that, you know, they were going to have people living to people in such a small space with everything going on,” Urquhart said. “Who knows what my roommate, or what I would do … outside of the room?”

English also noted she doesn’t understand why there are not more restrictions on housing given the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I feel like everyone should be in a single,” English said. “I know the other universities have tried to do that, to a certain extent — in my knowledge — but (Michigan) hasn’t done that in any capacity at all.”

Urquhart called for more transparency in the University’s emails regarding housing and community spaces.

“Even if they’re unsure about something, they could be better at communicating,” Urquhart said. “Not saying anything is not helpful for anybody … even a regular email would be a big plus.”

Daily Staff Reporter Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at varshakv@umich.edu.