Quarantine Zones: ETSU providing safe zone for residence hall students who test positive for COVID-19

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) East Tennessee State University (ETSU) officials are reassigning staff to accommodate the needs for isolation areas.

If a student, who lives on campus, tests positive for coronavirus or is awaiting tests results from a possible contact, students will be places in a designated quarantine zone on campus.

University officials will then begin the process of contact tracing.

They will ask a series of questions and will be placed in a designated area to quarantine.

“Health and safety needs to come first. Also, the delivery of producing nurses, doctors in a pandemic is all so critical. Delivering education, doing it to where it’s safe is a primary concern,” ETSU chief operating officer, Jeremy Ross said.

Chief operating officer, Jeremy Ross said depending on a student’s circumstances, a quarantine room will be provided.

“If a student can go home and can quarantine, that’s a desirable situation. They have care support. Other students though may have a high-risk person at home or it may be many, many miles away,” Ross said.

Tests will be administered through the Student-University Health Clinic and ETSU Health, but students have the option to go to their own primary doctor.

Ross said, “They have a criteria: How long was this person? What was the distance? Were you wearing a mask or shield? If someone fits that criteria, they’re contacted and asked to quarantine.”

The university is in its early stages of developing a hotline for students and an online feature, for students to report themselves.

“It could be coaches. It could be deans, chairs department heads, clinic heads . It could be on the faculty side – their supervisors. It could be the individuals themselves, but the reporting will have multiple pathways,” Ross explained.

Right now, the quarantine zones will only be available to students living in the residence halls.

“So, food will be distributed to them there, so they won’t have to leave and pick it up. There’s laundry services that have to be addressed. There’s physical health monitoring.”

ETSU plans to reduce housing capacity to make room for the isolation rooms. They are considering one student per room.

Ross said, “The local health department as well as someone of our health officials, will check on their physical health to make sure that they’re healthy and there’s sometimes a mental health piece. Being in isolation is not easy.”

Full PPE will be provided to personnel working with students who are quarantined.

For privacy reasons, university officials will not release the designated area for quarantine.

More information will be released in the next week.

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