UMD students debate going home or staying on the campus to quarantine

Old Leonardtown consists of six three-story garden apartment buildings. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)

By Courtney Cohn
For The Diamondback

Three weeks into the fall semester at the University of Maryland, only 24 percent of on-campus quarantine and isolation housing is available. And now, students who need to quarantine or isolate themselves amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are left with a choice: do so on-campus or at home.

Students who test positive for the virus are required to isolate for 10 days, and students who were exposed to the virus are required to quarantine for 14 days, according to the student affairs division. And students should do so at their permanent address, if possible, the division wrote in an email to a parents Listserv on Sept. 9.

But health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say encouraging students to return to their permanent addresses if they contract the virus poses a threat to communities around the country.

University President Darryll Pines has said that while going home is a legitimate option for students, they should make the best choice for themselves and their families.

“We are trying to be careful to obviously curb the spread of the virus, but it’s often the case that an individual will choose to go home,” Pines said in an interview with The Diamondback last week. “There’s nothing negative about that.”

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If students are unable or don’t want to return home, they can move into one of the spaces the university has designated as quarantine and isolation housing, which includes two apartment complexes and three on-campus chapter houses.

Students quarantining or isolating in the Leonardtown Community have access to services such as a personal case manager, medical supplies, meals, and medical assistance if needed.

Jody Goldenberg, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences who chose to move into housing in Leonardtown, said going home wasn’t really an option for her.

“I don’t want to get any of my family members sick,” Goldenberg said. “Back at home, there’s not as many cases, and on college campuses the rates are spiking so much that I do think it would spread to the smaller communities.”

Ally Godsey, a sophomore hearing and speech sciences major who has been isolating in Leonardtown, said she wanted to go home because she didn’t feel well but believed staying on campus was more important.

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“I think keeping the virus contained to this area when we’re having an outbreak is crucial,” Godsey said. “There’s people from all across the country here.”

But since being back in College Park, some students, such as sophomore Molly Linder, feel that going home is still a safe option, if you test negative.

The criminology and criminal justice major said she went home after living in an off-campus apartment where her roommates tested positive.

Even though she tested negative, Linder still needed to quarantine due to her possible exposure. But she returned to her apartment once her roommates’ isolation periods ended.

“I felt safe coming back,” Linder said. “I’ll just be wearing my mask around in the kitchen and the common area.”

This story has been updated.

Staff writer Eric Neugeboren contributed to this report.

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