COVID-19 quarantine and carelessness

This past week my greatest fear during the pandemic was realized. My family was visiting for the weekend, but I had a few events to attend on campus. During one of the events I was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 without even knowing. The next day I got a call, notifying me of the exposure but the damage was done, I had already been around my parents unknowingly putting them at risk.

Once notified of the exposure I self-reported and began quarantining until I could schedule a test and receive a negative result. Tarleton’s policy states; “quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows [they’re] sick or if [they] have the virus without feeling symptoms… Tarleton students should stay home, separate themselves and others, monitor their health and follow directions from their primary care physician or other health professional.”

Personally, I work with Residence Life and Housing, serving as a Residential Leader in the Traditions community, because of this, I must follow these policies to the T. As soon as I got the call saying I had been exposed, my life went on hold. I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t complete the hall meetings I had scheduled in person and I couldn’t go to my first Microbiology class in person like I planned. Just about everything in my life got derailed.

Not only was I worried about whether or not I exposed and potentially passed the virus to my at-risk parents, but I was mad that someone’s decision to attend on campus events after potentially being exposed themselves, was uprooting any plans for normalcy I had. I take every precaution; I wear my mask constantly, wash my hands regularly and sanitize when I can’t make it to the sink for washing. I even monitor my symptoms daily, which I would bet most students don’t do, even though it is recommended.

The practice of self-monitoring means students should remain alert for the symptoms of fever, cough, or any difficulty breathing. Students should take their temperatures at least once a day. If they begin to feel feverish or develop a cough or difficulty breathing when self-monitoring they should begin quarantine protocols.

When quarantining on campus you should limit contact with others, and immediately seek advice from your RL or other Residence Life professional to determine whether or not a medical evaluation or COVID-19 test is necessary. If you live off campus you should contact your health provider and avoid coming onto campus until you have been medically released.

Despite all of my precautions, one student’s carelessness had potentially put me and my loved ones at risk, which I think is blatantly unfair. Dr. Hurley touched on this in one of his many addresses to our student body. Following guidelines should not be a personal choice.It will be a deciding factor on whether or not our university will remain open for in person classes and activities for the remainder of the semester.

The on-campus experience we all want so much, the experience that makes Tarleton the great institution it is, all depends on each and every student doing their part. Most Tarleton students know the simple things that make our campus experience so great. We love eating together in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center, studying on the lawn in Heritage Park and cramming study pods in the Dick Smith Library full of all our friends. It’s the simple things like those that make us feel connected and create the sense of the Texan family.

Most of us do feel some sense of family among our fellow Texans, and for that reason we must be cautious and care for those around us. There is no way to know how those around you would be affected if they were to contract COVID-19, or what the impact would be if they passed it to one of their loved ones.

While I got lucky and tested negative, meaning I didn’t expose my family, some students may not. We have to take precautions to protect the people around us who could be at-risk, we have to take into consideration the people around us who have at-risk loved ones. It’s not just about us anymore. Wear your mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands, sanitize, self-monitor. Do it for those around you who can’t afford to take online classes, can’t afford to move back home and who certainly can’t afford to contract COVID-19 because of someone else’s carelessness.