By Rachel Royster | Staff Writer
Ten minutes after testing positive for COVID-19 through a Baylor-issued rapid test, students who live on campus are faced with the decision of where they will go.
The students that live on campus are given the option to either go home or isolate themselves at a specified hotel near campus, but they must do so quickly. Throughout the fall and spring, many students have chosen to stay in Waco at the Baylor-provided hotel.
“I had 45 minutes to pack up everything,” McDonough, Ga., junior Isaiah Smith said. “There was even a person that came to pick me up, and I had to send him off. I had people constantly calling me telling me things I couldn’t do now, asking me to be ready by this time, saying that someone would be calling me about contact tracing. The process is very overwhelming at first.”
After arriving at the hotel, students go to a separate desk specifically for Baylor students going into isolation.
“They gave me my room key and offered to help me with my bags,” Waco freshman Evan Hardin said. “There was also a specific elevator for the people going into isolation, so that they don’t infect any other guests that might be staying there. It seemed like my whole floor was just Baylor students in isolation.”
Depending on how quickly they get to the hotel, students are either contacted before or after to talk about contact tracing, as well as their meal options and other services offered through BearAid.
“BearAid is what you would use if you had any questions and needed to contact them,” Houston freshman Jahnvi Sindha said. “They were also the ones to send out the email reminding you to order your food. I also used them for the laundry service, which took a few days, but it was nice that they offered it. BearAid really made everything easy. You ask about some service or something, and then they’d email you instructions on who to call or who to talk to.”
When it came to meals, students could choose to use BearAid and order food for the following day or simply use food delivery services and apps.
“For food through BearAid, you just simply go online and type in what you want to eat the next day,” Smith said. “Then they come knock on your door and leave a bag there with your breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
Students could even have friends or family delivery food to the receptionist of the hotel, who would then send someone up to the room for the student. For Hardin, who spent his birthday in quarantine, there was a little more than food waiting for him.
“My parents had told me they were going to bring me a meal that night for my birthday, so I knew they were coming,” he said. “I heard Mexican music coming from outside my window from the mariachi band. I looked out and saw everyone down in the parking lot, including my security guard taking photos. It was a great surprise because they brought me Mexican food, too. I think I made the most of a quarantine birthday given the circumstances.”
During the isolation period, students do school work if their health allows and are offered Zoom calls with Baylor counselors for their mental health as well.
“All my professors were really accommodating and gave me extensions if I needed them,” Fort Worth freshman Ethan Gonzales said. “All your professors pretty much know that you test positive because they get an email saying you have COVID.”
Students aren’t allowed to leave the hotel except in specific cases, like for doctor’s visits or if someone is picking them up to go home to quarantine there.
After the 10 days of the isolation period is over, students are emailed a certificate to show that they are allowed to leave and go back to campus.
“I think Baylor’s execution of the quarantining was very safe,” Smith said. “They genuinely wanted to make sure that nothing happened to me or anyone else. Their process is extremely fast. They want to make sure you are out of the dorm and in the hotel as soon as possible. I think they did a really great job of handling the whole situation.”