Students struggle in isolation on campus


Designed by Meghan Salsbury

Joshua Kornfeld, Staff Reporter

Daniel Walters spent the majority of his first few days back on campus in his dorm waiting to receive his COVID-19 test. After receiving a positive test result from the walk-in testing clinic offered at the SURC, Walters was transferred to Munson Hall. 

“I started feeling pretty sick. I had a sore throat, developed a fever and body aches,” Walters, a first year aviation student in the flight officer specialization, said. 

Once in isolation, digital communication was his only connection with the outside world. 

“The only physical contact was the drop-off and pick-up. Food deliveries were dropped off at the door with a brief knock,” Walters said.  

Walter’s overall complaints were of general boredom and being confined to a small room. For the first three days, however, he said he was unable to get utensils with his meals. Most of his time was spent doing homework or playing on his Xbox, according to Walters. 

“I wanted to be able to go walk outside, get some fresh air,” Walters said.

After a few days at Munson Hall, Walters said he heard a girl crying and being unhappy with the isolation and confinement. 

“I could hear her through the wall, on her phone,” Walters said. “She was freaking out, crying, saying, ‘I hate it here. I feel like I’m in an insane asylum. I want to go home. I hate being so lonely.’ It made me realize, maybe for some people, this is their first kind of lonely experience.” 

During Walters’ time in isolation, to his knowledge, there weren’t any permanently assigned staff members ensuring the safety and well-being of residents. The only staff members in the building were delivering food or assisting students moving in. 

“The only way they will know something is happening is if they get a phone call, and I called the 24-hour duty residents coordinator,” Walters said. 

Elena Villa, a junior apparel textile and merchandising major, was also quarantined at Munson Hall. Villa tested positive soon after returning to campus this past fall. After feeling unwell, Villa said she went to the doctor who originally advised her that it was likely just a cold. However, after taking a COVID-19 test, Villa found out she tested positive. 

“I cried about it for an hour after I got the results,” Villa said. “I felt like I would be causing so many problems for everyone around me.”

As an on-campus resident, Villa isolated in Munson Hall. Villa described the isolation rooms as having four beds with large windows, with a single resident assigned per room. Villa said this created a lonely atmosphere. A 24-quiet-hours policy was also in place, further isolating students from one another Villa reported.  

“I really missed talking to people in person. After just starting classes, I was getting to know people. And I really missed being able to be in class with others,” Villa said.

One piece of advice Villa recommended for those currently in isolation is to ensure you have a solid support network, whether friends, family or acquaintances. Make sure to take the opportunity to reach out so your needs are being met.   

“The worst thing that you could do is not ask for help,” Villa said. 

After nine days in isolation, Villa was finally allowed to return to her dorm. 

Freshman secondary education major William Barber is also in quarantine in Munson Hall. He said while he didn’t initially test positive for COVID-19, he was still allowed to isolate after showing symptoms.

“I just elected to isolate because I started feeling really sick on Thursday, so I called the school on Friday,” said Barber. 

Barber said that since his roommate wasn’t feeling sick, his roommate was able to stay in their room in Dugmore Hall. 

“Since I didn’t have a positive test, they just [said], ‘Well, if your roommate starts feeling symptoms after five days, tell him to get tested,’ and he feels fine, but he’s probably going to get tested anyways,” he said.

Barber said that he felt CWU is handling the on-campus isolation situation fairly well, but he did have some concerns with Munson Hall itself.

“The first day that I was in here, [I] could smell the mold,” Barber said. “It gave me a headache. But I’ve gotten used to it, so I can’t really smell it anymore. But it’s definitely kind of moldy.”

All three students mentioned the overall hard work of housing, dining and student health teams in ensuring that students were taken care of.