Each Binghamton University student that receives a positive test result for COVID-19 faces 10 days of isolation, while many more roommates, friends and other contacts of the infected students face 14 days of quarantine.
The difference between isolation and quarantine is the length of stay. Quarantined students are tested on or around day three of the 14-day quarantine period. The students who test positive are isolated, and their untested contacts are asked to quarantine.
Jonah Maryles, a junior majoring in art and design, lives off campus. After his roommate was selected for surveillance testing at Old Union Hall, he received a positive test result and was placed into isolation. Maryles had to go into quarantine. Maryles said he found the process to be infuriating.
“Right away, we didn’t believe the rapid testing because there are so many flaws within the rapid testing system, and we knew it had to be a mistake,” Maryles said. “When he got his positive result, they wouldn’t let [Maryles and his other housemates] get tested. They said, ‘You can’t [get tested] because there’s an incubation period, and you could be asymptomatic.’ So, we followed the quarantine and didn’t go anywhere.”
Maryles said quarantining in his off-campus home was not too problematic, but he questioned the legitimacy of the testing that led to him being quarantined.
“The only complaint that we had was that it was frustrating that the school does rapid testing randomly, and then, if someone has a false positive, it counts toward [the University] numbers,” Maryles said. “Maybe they shouldn’t be doing rapid testing that’s not reliable.”
Hailey Jurenko, an undeclared freshman, was another student who received a positive COVID-19 test result when she decided to get tested at the Decker Student Health Services Center. As a result, she was put into isolation in Rockland Hall at the Hillside Community. Jurenko believes the University should make testing and re-testing more accessible for students.
“I almost was not able to get tested originally because my only symptom was a sore throat,” Jurenko said. “And I would have highly preferred to get retested, as nobody else I was in contact with tested positive. I was unable to retest. The school wouldn’t let me. If my test was somehow a false positive, even though they are rare, I was then [put] at risk of getting [COVID-19] because I was isolated in an apartment with other [infected] people.”
David Hubeny, executive director of emergency management, said Jurenko’s inability to get retested is due to a policy implemented by the Broome County Department of Health that BU adheres to.
“That workflow process is driven by the Broome County Department of Health,” Hubeny said. “Their current policy, that we’re operating under, is that any single test, regardless of technology, is what they will act upon. So a single positive test, whether it is an antigen or [polymerase chain reaction], will result in somebody being isolated or quarantined.”
Jacob Schwadron, an undeclared sophomore, quarantined at Old Digman Hall. Schwadron spoke highly of the service the University provides students who are in quarantine. He said the food service is fast, everything is kept clean and he had a variety of ways to spend his time.
“I do my classes online,” Schwadron said. “You just need a laptop. I try to exercise. I have some resistance bands. I talk with friends on the phone. Definitely spend more time watching Netflix. I just don’t like how you can’t go outside at all.”
Kyleigh Fitzgerald, an undeclared freshman, said she was feeling lonely after having to quarantine for a such long period of time and not being able to see friends.
“Mentally, I’m feeling a bit lonely, but I’m mostly bored having to spend 14 days in one room,” Fitzgerald said. “It makes it feel like I’m in prison. The only other time I make social contact is when I’m going to the bathroom, but that’s about it.”