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UNC to house students exposed to and confirmed positive for COVID-19 together


A student walks by Craige Residence Hall on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional information about precautions taken by Carolina Housing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

With the spring semester approaching, Carolina Housing expanded its isolation and quarantine dorms to include Craige and Horton. Now, both students who are exposed to and have a positive test for COVID-19 will be housed in the same buildings.

Executive Director Allan Blattner said Carolina Housing is moving away from using Parker Residence Hall for COVID-19 housing but will continue using Craige North. 

“Folks who start off with us in quarantine and then end up with a positive test, so they need to stay for isolation, they're going to be able to stay in their same room," Blattner said.

Blattner said this change was made so students do not have to make the move between buildings while sick. 

“Thankfully, most of our students are asymptomatic,” Blattner said. “But some of our students are feeling pretty sick and pretty crummy, and that's hard to have to make that move.”

In order to take maximum precautions, Carolina Housing also has a new set of protocol for utilizing and sanitizing facilities in the isolation dorms. Only one person at a time will be able to use elevators and the laundry room, Blattner said. 

“We're really trying to put all the right mitigation techniques in there,” Blattner said. “We're going to be providing wipes and those kinds of things in each of those areas, so when students are done they can wipe that down. Regardless of who was there before or who comes after, it's a safe environment for that student to be in.”

Additionally, students in isolation will now be able to pick their meals through a daily survey. 

“(The daily survey) was something that came through in the feedback was that students wanted a little bit more granularity,” Blattner said. “They want to be able to have a little more choice in meals.”

In order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at the start, students living on-campus will take a re-entry test and be required to get tested twice weekly. 

Carolina Housing is taking the following precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in residence halls and isolation/quarantine dorms: 

  • Single-occupancy rooms in all residence halls across campus.
  • One person limit in elevators, laundry rooms and other shared areas in the isolation/quarantine dorms.
  • Single-occupancy bathrooms in isolation/quarantine dorms.
  • Meals will be delivered directly to students dorms in isolation/quarantine dorms.
  • Sanitation products provided in shared spaces for students to clean area after use.
  • Reported complaints in any residence hall buildings will result in an appropriate (virtual or socially-distanced) follow up meeting to address the complaint.

Blattner said every student who applied for housing by the Nov. 15 priority deadline received a spot on campus. 

“We had fewer applications than we had bed spaces, so everybody who has applied so far will be able to stay with us,” Blattner said. “From this point forward, it's first come first serve.”

First-year Troye Curtin tested positive for COVID-19 and was moved from an isolation hotel to quarantine housing during the fall semester. Curtain said he believes exposed and positive testing students should be kept separate based on his experience.

“I definitely think kids with a positive COVID test should move to different dorm, and then positive and negative be separated,” Curtin said. “I believe that kids would not really follow the rules if they had COVID but were housed with kids who didn’t have COVID.”

First-year Ryan Phillips sees the benefit of this new plan, but said he still has concerns. 

“I think that it's a spatially pragmatic plan, but it could definitely lead to more positive cases,” Phillips said. “I understand why they may have to do it, but in my personal life and in overall plans I feel that taking maximum precautions is key.”

Some students who applied for housing in the fall did not reapply for the spring semester. Phillips said he decided to stay home both semesters in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“I understand why people do need to go, because of home situations and internet access and all that sort of thing,” Phillips said. “But I do think that, since I live in a situation where I don't have to face any of those difficulties, I'm going to maximize my safety.”

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