Students Placed In Quarantine Lags Behind Potential Exposure

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This story was updated Sunday, Sept. 27.

The most significant spike in quarantines happened on DePauw University’s campus last week since move-in in mid-August. As of Friday, Sept. 25, there are now 66 students in quarantine, 10 in isolation, and 10 active cases. On Thursday, Sept. 26, there were 46 students in quarantine. That’s a 43.4 percent increase in 24 hours. 

Athletic practices were set to begin the week of September 20 following the completion of medical and compliance clearance, including an antibody test. However, there are now reports of sports teams in quarantine. Stevie Baker-Watson, associate vice president for campus wellness and athletic director, said she could not comment on any specific sports team.

There have been frequent violations of university directives on the crime and fire log since the start of the semester. Although these violations aren’t exclusive COVID-19 policies, RA’s have indicated that they have dealt with a handful of violations including nighttime gatherings. 

On Saturday, Sept. 19 there was a gathering where multiple people were in direct exposure to someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, Sept. 20 first-year Jack Wheele, a member of the men’s swim team, was put into quarantine. According to Wheele, he came into direct contact with a teammate who had tested positive for COVID-19. 

Wheele was in contact with several other first-years including Max Carroll, a member of the men’s cross country team. Due to this, Carroll was put into quarantine on Tuesday, Sept. 22. 

Carroll had been randomly selected for testing on Tuesday, Sept. 22 and had to get tested again on Thursday, Sept. 24 due to the possible exposure. Both tests did come back negative, but, despite his test result, he still has to quarantine for two weeks, according to Carroll. 

Carroll mentioned several other members of the men’s cross country team are also in quarantine due to direct exposure at the same gathering. These members have all tested negative as of Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Wheele started feeling COVID-19 related symptoms the night he was quarantined. Due to his symptoms, he was put into isolation housing on Monday, Sept. 21. 

“It got lonely at some points but, I would talk to someone over FaceTime,” Wheele said.

Eventually, Wheele was moved into an isolation duplex with a teammate that also tested positive.

There are also members on the women’s softball team that are in quarantine, Abby Pyburn, a sophomore on the softball team, said. However, coaches who serve as contact tracers have to receive permission to provide further information.  

If an individual on a sports team comes into direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, all team activities must stop for 24 hours so the health department can review the case. Watson said in an email. Once they have completed contact tracing, people who have had close contact with that person who tested positive are placed in quarantine.  

While in quarantine, the student remains in their room and may leave to go to the bathroom, pick up food, and do light exercise. However, they must wear a mask at all times.  If the student is in isolation, they are moved to a building designated for confirmed positive cases and can’t leave their room to pick up food or exercise. 

Individuals may not participate in team practices if they are in quarantine and should not physically work out above light exercise.  

According to Watson, information that goes beyond what’s on the COVID Dashboard regarding positive COVID-19 cases can’t be shared. 

Additional reporting by Joslyn Fox