This article consists of two separate interviews. Student A tested positive for COVID-19, while Student B was in isolation due to close contact. These interviews were edited for length and clarity.
Can you tell me a little bit about what happened and how you ended up in isolation?
A: I went on a family trip with one friend to Cape Cod and while we were on that trip we got news that a bunch of my friends’ housemates had just tested positive because one of them was just with his girlfriend, who tested positive through a bunch of her friends—and it’s kind of crazy how far removed I ended up being from that actual source…My friend’s actually came up positive and my first one was negative, but because I was very exposed they kept me in the investigation unit of The Mods, so it’s separate from all the other kids that had tested positive. I stayed a day there and then went back home, because my Tufts test came up negative again…I had to wait three more days until my next test even though I had some slight symptoms and knew I was kind of feeling off, and then my next one came up positive and I ended up back in The Mods for 10 days.
B: I had to go to South Dakota for a family funeral…then I got back and I tested twice and I was negative, and then on a Tuesday morning my sister texted in our family group chat and was like “I just got a positive test result for COVID.”
What was the process like, between finding out that you needed to be quarantined and moving into The Mods?
A: I was given about 90 minutes…to grab all [my] essential belongings and bring it over to The Mods.
B: So I was originally just gonna be quarantined in my house off-campus…And then Tufts Health Services called me two hours later and was like “Actually, we really think you should go to The Mods, cause you had such direct exposure. And [they were] like, 50/50 if you get it, so it would be really nice if you went to The Mods”…So it was technically my choice.
Do you feel like your health was well taken care of while you were in The Mods?
A: Yeah. At around 10ish every morning, medical staff would come in and take your vitals and check in on you. And they were very responsive to any issues that people had.
B: Someone told me that the EMTs are supposed to check on you once a day and take your temperature. That was not every day. I would go through multiple days where I would just not see a single person or really communicate. But…the nurse practitioner would message me on the portal and check up on me every few days…But I also feel like if I felt really bad, I don’t think they would have known.
Did you have a way that you could have communicated with them if you had started feeling sick?
B: They told me to call TUPD if I started getting symptoms enough that I should be going to the hospital.
How many people were all together?
A: In our friend group, I think there were five of us, but there were I think three or four other kids at the same time that were there, so it was eight or nine of us.
Were you by yourself the whole time?
B: Yes…A few of my friends stopped by, and then we talked like 20 feet apart…And I talked to one kid with COVID, from a very far distance.
Did you do or bring anything fun to pass the time?
A: Just went into the lounge and hung out and talked…just being together felt good…right when I got there I still hadn’t entered The Mods yet and I was still unloading things from my car and I saw a golf ball and a putter in my car, and the main hallway, which is really really really long, we used that as a long mini golf hole and we would try and putt it from one side to the other without hitting the walls and stuff like that.
B: Not really. I was very confused as to what it was going to be like because no one I know [had] been there. I needle felted six fucking pumpkins.
Did you feel academically supported?
A: In a funny way, it was the nicest work environment I’ve had at Tufts because it felt like you had your own personal room with air conditioning that was as comfortable as can be…there are very few distractions, so I was definitely focused.
B: I definitely had a way harder time focusing…All the days just kind of blended together. I forgot to go to one of my classes for no reason. I just did not think that it was a Tuesday.
Did you tell your professors that you were in isolation?
A: I just didn’t feel like it was necessary cause all of my classes are online. Except one time during an early class we were doing introductions…and the medical staff came in—
Oh my god.
A: —and knocked on my door, literally as…it was my turn giving an introduction, and I was like “Professor, can you move on to someone else, I will absolutely explain what you’re about to see…” and she was like “okay,” confused, like “go do what you gotta do,”” and then she was like “yeah so, going back to [you],” and I was like “yeah, I’m in The Mods, that was the medical staff taking my vitals, I’m glad you guys got to see that.”
How did you feel emotionally while you were there?
A: I’m definitely lucky that I had some people I knew that were also there. Obviously it’s a disappointment and especially because it was leading up to classes so it’s a pretty stressful time…But I think I lucked out, I wasn’t heartbroken or freaking out as much as one might be…We were pleased with Tufts…[since] they made it as liveable as possible for the circumstances.
B: Oh, I definitely did not love it. It was really easy, [but] after my first 24 hours I was like, “Damn, I really miss my housemates or just seeing or interacting with people even on a very baseline level.”
Did your feelings [about living in The Mods] ever change over time?
A: There were some days I was just pretty drained and tired and then it made me…wish I could be outside or do something.
B: Near day six and seven, I was like, “I cannot wait to leave.” ‘Cause it was terrible. Lowkey, because…you can go outside, but it’s also weird; students will pass, and…I felt ashamed, [but] I didn’t go to a party or get exposed to COVID for doing something reckless.
Was there any follow-up after you went home?
A: There was an email saying that you’re officially released and you can move your stuff…and that for the next 90 days we aren’t going to be tested by Tufts.
Is that because they know that once you have it you can’t get it again?
A: We all started researching it after…it can’t be active in our systems as carriers for the next 90 days, so it’s definitely saving money to not [test us].
Now knowing more about what can happen if you test positive, do you feel like there’s anything people at Tufts should know?
A: Even if you feel like you have a small close-knit group and those are the only people that you’re okay seeing, if one person in your group sees someone else and they happen to be positive, it can ripple very quickly.
Do you feel like your perspective on COVID safety has changed since you were in The Mods?
B: Oh, I don’t think so. I do think that you can also get COVID even when you are just being really safe. I talked to someone else in The Mods and they were like, “I literally don’t see anyone outside of my house except when I go to class like once a week.” And that’s how he got COVID.