By, Jilleen Barrett, A&E/Managing Editor
Quarantine and isolation at Manhattan College is changing this year due to changing regulations surrounding the pandemic across the nation. According to an email from Jaspers Return that was sent to residents, the school is only offering a space for students to isolate under “extenuating circumstances (such as international students or students who need to travel home via air travel).”
The email detailed that students should develop a plan in case they get sick and need to evacuate their living situation to isolate, which interim Vice President of Student Life and the Dean of students Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel said was different from being quarantined.
Quarantine, as she explained, is not required for vaccinated students at the college anymore as it is advised only when someone comes into contact with someone who has tested positive. A ten-day isolation, however, is required of students who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
“If you are fully vaccinated, there’s zero reason to quarantine,” Abreu-Hornbostel said. “There might be a need for isolation, though.”
The email provided a link to the NYC Health and Hospital’s Isolation Hotel Program for those with COVID-19. The hotel program, Abreu-Hornbostel said, provides anything a student should need while in isolation. They accept anyone with a Manhattan College identification card, even if they are not from New York or do not live on campus. However, you need to test positive for COVID-19 in order to be eligible.
“We have a very great New York City hotel program that provides transportation, food, medication,” she said. “The hotel spaces have been used by our students and they’re beautiful and they’re safe. And so, the city has provided anyone with a Manhattan College ID as New York City residents.”
Abreu-Hornbostel added there is an isolation support group provided by the counseling center, which is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) approved as well as available to any students at Manhattan. The OneManhattan email says to contact Julie Egan at jegan01@ manhattan.edu to use these ser vices.
“We actually did a really massive transference that was HIPAA approved and able to coordinate with every single state … so someone in California will get [counseling] services,” Abreu-Hornbostel said.
There is also a concierge service that can be contacted at 718-862-6398 or concierge@ manhattan.edu.
“Our concierge person will actually reach out to a person in [isolation] every single day … So even though a person’s alone, they’re not forgotten,” Abreu-Hornbostel said.
To express a potential need for an isolation space, students must fill out their daily symptom tracker and wait for directions from the school. Residents must leave their dorm or their Overlook apartment to isolate, and resi-commuters are strongly advised by Abreu-Hornstobel to make use of the hotel program as well. She also recommends resi-commuters speak with the school to alert them if they have roommates who are unvaccinated or showing symptoms.
Anne Mavor, the director of health services, explained the school has up to forty temporary spaces in Horan Hall for students — particularly those who do not have family nearby — to isolate if they suspect they have the virus but have not tested positive, and therefore cannot take advantage of the hotel program, though the email states situations that would lead to the school allowing students to do this are “rare, and are granted on a case-by-case basis.”
“[It] depends on your situation,” Mavor said. “We find out where you’re from, and what your symptoms are and where you are in your illness, how many days you’ve been sick … so we’re allowing this window of time where we need to gather information, make the assessment. If isolation is directed … if you’re a resident student, you’re going to be provided a room in Horan then.”
A fully-vaccinated student who has chosen to remain anonymous was able to isolate in Horan after appealing to the office of Abreu-Hornbostel, dean of students. This appeal was approved as the student lives on the west coast. They described their time isolating in Horan for three days after they started experiencing cold-like symptoms such as congestion and a sore throat.
Since they were not provided with a method of ordering food from the dining hall and they could not go get food on their own, they had to ask friends to bring them meals.
“I had to appeal to the dean [of students] and because I’m from the west coast, I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I did get approval from the dean to [isolate in Horan] but my friends had to bring me food,” the source said.
On their second day of isolation, the source’s parents complained and the source received some food to supplement what their friend had brought already. The source was not informed about the counseling service, nor did they receive a daily call from the concierge service Abreu-Hornbostel detailed.
In a OneManhattan email from Sept. 10, it was stated that there have been eight positive tests on campus in the past two weeks. In addition to isolating for 10 days, positive cases re-
quire students to stay in isola- tion until they are able to last 24 hours without developing a fever.
“We have had eight positive cases of COVID-19 on our campus during the past two weeks,” the email said. “Seven of eight individuals who have tested positive have been vaccinated. All are experiencing mild, if any, symptoms.”
Mavor also said that the vaccination rate for the college is 96 percent, meaning four percent of the community has been excused for religious or medical reasons. Students with such exemptions are required to get tested once a week, however vaccinated students are advised to get tested if they show symptoms such as fatigue, congestion, fevers and those resembling a cold or allergies.
Mavor stressed that despite this high vaccination rate, masks are still an important way to prevent contraction.
“We didn’t know what [this year] was going to look like,” Mavor said. “Last year, we knew what it looked like … Personally, I thought vaccination was going to help us, vaccination helps you prevent serious illness and hopefully hospitalization and death. It doesn’t prevent you from getting COVID, what prevents us from getting COVID is the masks.”
OneManhattan states masks are required indoors for the vaccinated community and at all times for the unvaccinated community. Not being in compliance with these rules is a violation of the Community Standards and Student Code of Conduct, which also links a One Manhattan Health and Safety Guidance Violation Form. Abreu-Hornstobel strongly encourages students to wear masks indoors, even at off-campus events that are not sanctioned by the college.
“We still benefit from wearing masks indoors,” she said. “This is a dynamic condition, the world is experiencing variants, and right now we’re dealing with the delta variant and we know that even if you’re vaccinated, there is a possibility to contract [it].”
Students who attended the college in the spring may remember the online dashboard which indicated the COVID-19 positivity rate on campus as well as the number of students currently in isolation. This dashboard is no longer available.
“I do not have a plan to do a dashboard again,” Mavor said, adding that weekly emails from OneManhattan will have information on positive tests and other details that used to be viewable on the dashboard.
Less accessible information can make this situation more confusing — the anonymous source said they felt “out of the loop” whilst being isolated and sometimes only received information because their parents contacted the school to ask for it.
“It was kind of a lack of communication between the administration … it kind of felt like they’re treating it like COVID was over, you know, they didn’t really have a solid plan,” the source said.