Tarleton to open more isolation housing


Cassie Labay/The JTAC

Ferguson hall reopens to house students needing to isolate due to COVID-19.

Tarleton has made an effort to maintain as much of the normal college experience as possible despite the current global pandemic. However, some changes had to be made for
that to be accomplished. One of these changes is the addition of isolation housing.

In order to keep everyone on campus safe and to maintain a somewhat normal semester, individuals that are positive for COVID-19, show symptoms or have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19, must return home or stay on campus in designated isolation housing.

“The goal is to separate ill students from other students to reduce community spread. Some students isolate or quarantine on campus, and some return to their permanent residence. To meet more student needs, Tarleton is increasing the number of spaces available for isolation,” Director for Residence Life, Shelly Brown, said.

Controlling the on-campus spread will be greatly influenced by the addition of isolation rooms. This way roommates can be separated if only one is exposed.

Ferguson and Bender halls are the on-campus housing facilities that will be used as isolation housing for students. It was rumored that Ferguson was condemned for black mold, however, that was not the case.

In 2017, Tarleton received help from an environmental consultant to evaluate both Ferguson and Bender, since the building systems of both facilities are similar. After evaluating numerous factors, Tarleton decided to remove Bender and Ferguson as a housing option in 2018.

“The buildings did not provide the modern-day amenities needed by our students, and the cost to renovate both facilities for housing was not feasible based on budget considerations,” Brown said.

After the removal of Ferguson and Bender halls, as student housing in 2018, they were renovated to be used as office spaces. However, because of the current situation, the second and third floors of these halls were renovated to provide isolation housing.

While the idea of isolation housing for COVID-19 positive, or suspected positive cases, seems unsteady or unsafe, the plan has been well thought out by the university.

Residence Life will be utilizing current food delivery services, trash collection services and any other necessary services. The environmental team at Tarleton will also be sanitizing and disinfecting the common areas on a daily basis.

“Tarleton will continue to follow A&M System, local, state and federal guidelines. Students can choose to isolate at their permanent residence or on campus where space is available. These spaces are designed to support student needs as we move further into the fall semester,” Brown said.

Tarleton currently has 16 active university-related cases and 14 cases that are in isolation. While this number is low in comparison to the population of students and faculty at Tarleton, safety precautions must remain in practice.

Continuing to wear a mask in public spaces, social distancing when possible, avoiding unnecessary travel and self-monitoring for any symptoms will slow the spread of COVID-19.

With the use of these safety standards, as well as the provided isolation housing, hopefully we can get back to what a normal college experience looks like.