WALLINGFORD — As a way to free up quarantine space on campus, some Quinnipiac University students who have been contact traced but have not tested positive for COVID-19 are quarantining at the Hilton Garden Inn on Route 68.
“We do have some residence halls that are kind of a traditional style residence hall that has a communal or shared bathroom,” said Monique Drucker, vice president and dean of students. “Those are the ones that we are looking at and identifying some of those students to go over to the hotel because they can’t quarantine in place — meaning that if you happen to live in a residence hall that has a private bathroom, an apartment or a suite style building, then we’re able to have them quarantine in place.”
Drucker said that being able to send some students to quarantine at the hotel makes it easier for the university to have enough space to isolate students who have tested positive.
“We probably have less than 10 kids there, we don’t have a lot of students there but we’ve been navigating it based on the space needs of our own campus and the building where our students are currently residing to help us understand where we best place them,” Drucker said.
Quinnipiac is picking up the expense of the room for students placed in the hotel. The Hilton Garden Inn provides breakfast each day and the university gives students gift cards to local restaurants for other meals.
Students are not allowed to leave their room while quarantining, so all food is delivered.
However, students who ask to be placed in the hotel instead of on-campus quarantine housing have to pay their hotel expenses.
Aryssa Tyrol, a senior health science studies major, asked to be moved to the hotel instead of quarantining on campus.
“It would have been fine if the (campus) suite wasn’t completely filled and each person had their own room, I would have been fine staying there if it was like that,” Tyrol said.
For the most part, all of the students placed at the hotel have single rooms. If students are already roommates at school and had the same exposure, they could be placed in a room together.
A Quinnipiac University health services staff member goes to the hotel to administer a COVID-19 test to students before they return to campus.
“We are checking on them daily through phone calls,” Drucker said. “We typically like to test on or around day eight and then if they receive a negative test, and complete their day 10 and then they would move back to campus.”
Once the quarantine is up, the Hilton Garden Inn leaves the room empty for two to three days and then they do a deep clean.
“They remove everything and they wash, they sanitize the furniture and basically everything from top to bottom in that room,” said town sanitarian Brittany Nappi.
Nappi said the hotel has reserved a floor just for the Quinnipiac students.
“Nobody is on that floor with them,” Nappi said. “... They are keeping everybody separate.”
The Hilton Garden Inn did not return calls for comment.
Quinnipiac students started arriving back to campus for the spring 2021 semester on Jan. 21. All residential students had to observe a two week containment period before starting classes on Feb. 3. In order to be able to go to in-person classes and activities, students must have taken three COVID-19 tests, receiving three negative results.
Drucker also said that all students are being tested every week throughout February. At the end of the month, the university will make a determination whether students should continue to be tested once a week or if they should go back to the testing protocol from last semester — sample testing.
When it comes to contact tracing, Drucker said that once there is a positive test result, contact tracing is conducted immediately.
“We have a team of professionals who reach out to the students,” Drucker said. “We also speak with students every day if they’ve been identified. They have a checkpoint through a telehealth appointment or a phone call. The contact tracers, everybody has been certified through the state and have gone through the training.”
While some students think that the university is doing everything it can to keep students safe amid the pandemic, they also recognize that not everything is in its control.
“I think QU is handling COVID-19 in the best way they possibly can,” said Danyella Kaplan, sophomore psychology major. “… but there's only so much they can do to enforce the safety precautions.”