Wow. It’s been a rollercoaster couple of days. We’ve had our first encounter with the coronavirus at college and because so many of you are moving your children to campuses this week, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you.
I was waiting in line on Tuesday at the DMV with my sophomore who was getting her driver’s permit when my phone started to blow up with news of Notre Dame’s rising number of cases of Covid-19 on campus. As many of you know, we have two children at Notre Dame this year and the university welcomed the students back for in-person classes that started last week on August 10.
On Tuesday, Notre Dame made the difficult decision to move all classes online and have the students shelter in place in their dorms for the next 14 days to mitigate the growing number of cases of coronavirus. All off-campus students have been asked not to visit campus, since many of the Covid-19 cases have been traced to parties away from the University. The hope is that within the next two weeks, administration officials will see a slowing in the number of positive coronavirus cases. As of noon on Wednesday, there had been 222 positive tests for the virus from the 1,287 tests taken. To date, there have been no hospitalizations because of the virus.
Each day, students need to take and submit an online wellness check. They flag it “green” if they have no temperature or symptoms, “yellow” if they’re not feeling a 100%, or “red” if they have a temperature, are showing symptoms, or know that they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
What brought Covid-19 close to home for us was that our daughter Grace’s boyfriend tested positive for corona on Wednesday morning. He had been exposed to someone in his dorm who had tested positive. Once Grace’s boyfriend knew he’d been in contact with someone with the virus, he flagged himself with a red pass. He was immediately put into a queue to be tested and found out soon after that he was positive.
He quickly let Grace know and she then flagged herself as red since she, too, had significant exposure to someone with a positive test result. She received an automated response that she would soon get further instructions on when to report to the football stadium to be tested. In the meantime, they asked her to pack a bag as if she’d be away for two weeks, just in case.
Within a few hours of submitting her wellness check, Grace received an email telling her to check in at the football stadium. When Grace arrived, she was very taken by how calm and organized the intake process was. There was no sense of panic, even with the steady stream of students coming to be tested.
Within the hour, Grace was tested and received a negative result. Even with this good news, Notre Dame decided to isolate her at a hotel off campus until they can test her again in two to three days before clearing her to return to campus. Because Grace was negative, her roommates didn’t need to be tested at this time. If Grace tests positive in the coming days, she will remain in isolation at the hotel for the next 10 days (and I’m assuming her roomies would be tested at this time).
Notre Dame then took Grace by golf cart to a nearby hotel where students are being isolated. She was given Tylenol, a new thermometer, and a packet of resources for who she should contact if she begins to feel symptomatic.
Grace was given her own hotel room (for Grandma’s sake, she is not at the same hotel as her boyfriend who is also in isolation). University food services will drop off meals for her during her stay, although I did also have Grace Instacart some groceries to her room. She has been asked to not leave her room for any reason, although her roommates can drop off forgotten items at the front desk of the hotel and the hotel staff will get them to her.
So I tell all of this to you not to make you worry, but to reassure you that colleges and universities are on this. They are taking the Coronavirus very seriously. I even have to say that Notre Dame was far more prepared for how to handle the situation yesterday with Grace than I would have been had she been here at home. They have dedicated endless resources to ensuring the safety and health of our children.
My other takeaway from all of this was that Grace felt very cared for. Several times she commented on how nice and kind the nurses were. As a mother of a college student in this crazy corona-world, I couldn’t ask for anything more.