During the COVID-19 pandemic, many UNC students have experienced life in quarantine or an isolation dorm. During this time in isolation, many students have found it difficult to connect with their peers.
In an effort to help students in isolation find ways to socialize safely, UNC Campus Recreation and Student Wellness are working together to implement an outreach program that helps students connect with one another — even in isolation.
A total of 73 students used on-campus quarantine housing between Jan. 1 and Feb. 23., and 48 students used on-campus isolation housing.
Through the program, these students can participate in virtual activities like live trivia nights, art programs and yoga classes. Students also have access to Daily Self-Care, a set of daily goals that seek to aid student wellness during isolation.
When students check into any on-campus quarantine dorm, they are given a wellness kit, which includes an information sheet about the program and a link to sign up.
But this outreach program is not limited to students isolating on campus. Anyone — whether in isolation or not — has the opportunity to utilize the virtual activities.
Several Campus Recreation sports interns have helped in the process of building and maintaining the outreach program.
Claire Riley, a sports program intern, said though students can still interact with their peers through virtual classes, this program is different.
“Being able to recreate and have some human interaction while stuck in isolation is a reprieve,” Riley said. “It also helps to pass the time, and I believe it helps students feel less alone."
Riley said the program's main goal is to allow these isolated students to still feel like they're a part of campus and have something to do.
Lauren Mangili, senior associate director of business and strategic planning at Campus Recreation, has aided in the development of the outreach program. She said she sympathizes with students whose daily lives have been impacted by isolation.
“The overall goal of the program is to support students' mental, physical and social well-being,” Mangili said. “For the social part, when you’re not able to go out and see people, we were hoping that these live virtual programs would give them some opportunities for interaction.”
Allan Blattner, the executive director of Carolina Housing, said Housing has listened to student feedback from the fall semester and has adjusted its approach for the spring semester.
“We want students to feel connected to as many resources as possible, even while in quarantine or isolation,” Blattner said. “We’ve increased the lines of communication with Campus Health, increased capacity, adjusted the support systems in place and are now offering virtual fitness and wellness programs through our partners at Campus Rec.”
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