A look inside COVID-19 isolation dorms at USD

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -College students living on campus often live in tight quarters, which can pose a real problem if someone gets COVID-19. To limit the spread, many universities including the University of South Dakota are setting up COVID-19 isolation dorms.

So far this school year, 185 USD students have had to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. Those who live in campus housing must do so in the COVID-19 isolation dorms.

They are just three traditional residence halls that have been reserved for students needing to quarantine or isolate. So far 61 students have stayed in them.

“And the students have the room to themselves, they bring their own linens and toiletries and clothing and books and all that sort of stuff,” said USD Housing Director Kate Fitzgerald.

A kitchen and laundry machines are also available. And the university drops off meals. Students can still participate in class, just remotely.

“All of our classes, they have like a zoom link that when you’re in isolation or at any other time you just join the class at the same time that you’d normally be scheduled,” said USD Freshman Josi Kjenstad.

Kjenstad was exposed to COVID-19 and had to be isolated. The isolation dorms gave her peace of mind that she wasn’t spreading the virus to others, including her roommate.

“Getting to, like finish those 14 days in isolation in a separate room from her, it was very convenient. I was able to like recover and heal while still being comfortable. Because wearing a mask isn’t comfortable, especially when you want to be in your own space,” said Kjenstad.

Although lonely, Kjenstad says she still felt the support from staff.

“Daily check-ins that we got emailed to us that were just like what symptoms we were showing if we were feeling better if we needed anything. So I definitely felt like I was being like taken care of,” said Kjenstad

So far staff believes the isolation dorms are working.

“I think the biggest thing that’s helping us be successful at USD is our students. You know the students are really willing to self report that they either have symptoms or that they need to be tested or that they’ve been exposed. They are willing to go into quarantine or isolation if they need to. They follow kind of the rules of being there and staying put,” said Fitzgerald.

The university is also partnering with Sanford Student Health to ensure the health and safety of all students.

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