EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Abii-Tah Bih checked into a hotel room at the Kellogg Center last summer, but it wasn’t for a relaxing weekend away. She may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Her roommate at Michigan State University tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-August, forcing Bih, an MSU senior from Cameroon, to seek quarantine housing offered by the university.
Within an hour of calling MSU Residential and Hospitality Services to report the infection and seek further directions, all four roommates had packed bags and moved into their new accommodations at the Kellogg Center, which now is open only to self-isolating students.
MSU began offering isolation housing for students in March, but few people used it. As of Oct. 23, two on-campus residents were in isolation after contracting COVID-19. Another six students were in quarantine because they may have been exposed to COVID-19, according to the MSU COVID-19 dashboard. It’s unclear if any were staying at the Kellogg Center.
It appeared to at least be a better experience than what some University of Michigan students saw in their isolation housing quarters.
In September, a University of Michigan student posted a TikTok video sharing his experience while quarantining in a university apartment complex. His room was bare of essentials like soap or a microwave. It did have a roll of single-ply toilet paper and some cockroaches.
U-M President Mark Schlissel announced the university was looking into the issues in a letter posted the same day.
Bih’s experience was better. She and her roommates moved into separate guest rooms at Kellogg Center, an on campus hotel and conference facility. Meals were delivered to their doors, she said, and filled trash bags could be left outside the door for disposal. Each room came with bed linen changes when needed, a carton of sanitizer and cleaning supplies.
“It was so much better than I thought it would be,” Bih told the Lansing State Journal.
MSU wants to make the experience of being exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19 safe and comfortable, said Kat Cooper, chief communications officer for MSU Residential and Hospitality Services.
MSU sent most of its undergraduates home last spring as COIVID-19 began spreading in Michigan, although it continued to house international students and others who did not have safe alternative housing away from campus.
Most undergraduate classes have been taught remotely since then and this fall MSU opened its residence halls only for some 2,000 students who demonstrated a need to be housed on campus.
Any on-campus students not living in single-occupancy rooms with their own bathrooms are asked to self-isolate at Kellogg Center if they contract COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who did. Doctors and Ingham County Health Department officials determine the length of their stay, Cooper said.
They stay in standard guest rooms, featuring beds with pillows and sheets, TVs, mini fridges, microwaves and private bathrooms. Students are asked to bring two weeks worth of clothing, but can can be connected with laundry services if needed.
Students can order three meals for the following day that will be delivered to their doors.
Those who stay are expected to remain in their rooms and cannot have guests. Students are given a phone number to send text messages if they need anything.
Bih, who is also the president of Associated Students of MSU, said she kept busy with her student government work. But waiting to learn whether she had COVID-19 - she didn’t - and staying alone in the room was isolating and an experience she hopes not to revisit.
“It was scary,” she said. “I called my mom in Cameroon and told her I might have COVID-19 and she freaked out, which freaked me out even more. It’s the sense of uncertainty. You start to feel like you’re actually sick, but you don’t know if that’s mental or physical.”
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