A UConn Student’s Perspective on the Garrigus Suites Medical Quarantine

By Ryan Bologna, GHS Class of 2017, UConn Storrs Class of 2021

I sit in my room today in Garrigus suites a the University of Connecticut the day before classes start knowing that I won’t be able to attend my in person class for most likely about two weeks.

After 12 cases of COVID-19 were found in Garrigus on Thursday the university placed the building on medical quarantine. This means that we will be tested twice a week and are not allowed to attend in person classes until a clear decrease in transmission is seen.

We are only allowed to get food from Putnam dining hall, which is right next to Garrigus and no one else at the university is allowed to go there.

The increase of cases in Garrigus is said to be linked to the UConn football team. Despite their season getting cancelled, there was still training going on when I arrived to campus. I could see it every day looking out my window.

Many including myself are getting information about this from an Instagram account by the username @uconnmemery. The account claimed to receive direct messages from a football player about the situation. There have also been other pieces of information that students have sent this account regarding COVID impacted areas.

I never expected a meme account to be one of my main sources of information on what is going on around campus during this time, but that is the reality of the situation.

The past couple of days have consisted of being alone in my room and only leaving to get food from Putnam dining hall. When I’ve gotten food there has been at most two other students doing the same each time I’ve gone resulting in me being able to get in and out in less than five minutes. 

This is a stark contrast from the past week and a half before the medical quarantine when lines stretched down the hill in the direction of Hilltop Dorms, resulting in 20-30 minute waits to get food.

What I’ve seen from the start of this medical quarantine has made me optimistic for being able to eventually get back to attending in person classes.

I do not know what to expect as far as being able to stay on campus through the week before Thanksgiving as we are hoping to. Per the COVID-19 dashboard there are 56 current positive/symptomatic cases on campus.

There are 200 available beds for those who are positive or symptomatic to isolate in and 56 are already in use. The question is how many of those 200 beds being taken up would be too much?

It is hard to know, but classes haven’t started yet, rules are loosening up starting tomorrow as residents that are not in medical quarantine will be allowed to have one guest in their room and more than 25% of those available beds are taken up.

Maybe the cases will not rise as much knowing that many students have not been abiding by the rules and have been having guests in their rooms during these past two weeks during quarantine when it is not allowed.

There are some that do not think we will be on campus for much longer. This might surprise some, but as someone in Garrigus right now I do feel more optimistic about being here longer than I did a couple of days ago when I found out my building was placed on medical quarantine.

The only interactions I have had with people are when I go to the dining halls and those have all been between glass shields. I feel if people in Garrigus take this quarantine very seriously then we can control the transmission rate enough to get back to in person classes.

What I do know is that even though there might not be whole buildings that get placed in medical quarantine like Garrigus has been, there will be more locations where this will happen. Whether it is individuals moved to isolation or potentially specific floors in a building.

It is my senior year and it is frustrating to not be able to participate in activities like marching band and student radio like I had planned, or even have social gatherings like we used to before the pandemic, but we as students have a responsibility to be smart about what we are doing.

That means making sacrifices to try to stay on campus as long as possible.