Students outraged after college forces them to live with COVID-exposed peers

Wake Forest University is using empty dorm and apartment rooms on campus to quarantine students who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Some students are not pleased with the decison, citing that even though quarantined students will be in a separate room, they still have to share a living space.

Wake Forest University in Wake Forest, North Carolina announced that it will use empty apartment and dorm rooms to quarantine students who have been exposed to COVID-19.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the move was made after the university consulted with “public health experts” who determined it was safe for a student in quarantine to share a living unit with someone else, as long as they stay six feet away from them at all times unless they are seeing a healthcare worker.

Students with an empty room reportedly received an email from Zach Blackmon, the university’s associate director of operations in its Office of Residential Life and Housing, stating that their rooms might be used to “quarantine-in-place,” according to the news outlet.

”In consultation with our public health experts, they have determined that these vacant single rooms can be utilized for quarantine-in-place,” Blackmon said. “We wanted to make you aware that this space in your living unit could be used for a student to quarantine-in-place as needed. We realize some of you may already have students relocated to your living unit, and we apologize for not getting this information out to you sooner.”

Wake Forest junior Chris Cates told the newspaper that “it would not make sense to bring in someone who has been exposed to COVID into that double-occupancy room, exposing that person (and) our entire house.”

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Enraged, students at Wake Forest joined together in protest 8 days after receiving the email. The protest consisted of approximately 70 socially distanced students, many of whom held handmade signs with cries for help such as “Wake is putting us in danger” and “Stop putting COVID in our halls.”

The students worry that the university’s new COVID policies will put healthy students at risk. Some students are upset that the non-exposed students are being punished for following the rules and staying safe all semester.

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Dianna LaTerra, a sophomore at the university, told the newspaper that the move punishes students: ”I live in a suite, so presumably this student would be using our bathrooms, sinks and living areas...I think not only it is a crass decision, but it essentially punishes the rest of us, who have actually been following WFU’s COVID guidelines diligently.”

In fall 2020, Wake Forest provided hotel rooms for infected and exposed students. However, the school now says the demand for such rooms is too high to accommodate all exposed students,” according to the Winston Salem-Journal. As of Feb 11, the university had placed 17 students in vacant rooms, sometimes without notifying the current residents. The university claims none of the relocated students tested positive for COVID-19 or had shown symptoms of the disease.

Wake Forest University and its residential office did not offer a comment when contacted by Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article: Addison Pummill