By Joe Arruda
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Springfield College announced to the Gulick Hall residents that they will begin a 14-day quarantine after a surge of positive COVID-19 cases.
Much like the previous quarantine of Alumni Hall, the news was shared with residents in a Zoom call at 9:00 p.m.
The first-year dorm will remain quarantined through Nov. 11, just over a week before students will be sent home for the remainder of the semester on Nov. 20. Students will have the option to go home at any point during the two-week period, but if they go home, they will need to remain home until the quarantine is lifted on Nov. 11.
Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper told The Student, “We continue to be concerned about the health and safety of our students and believe that this was the next step in ensuring students were able to safely finish the semester in person – until Nov. 20. So, that is why we made the decision earlier today (Oct. 28) to quarantine Gulick and increase some testing and provide support to our students in Gulick so that they can remain here if they so choose to.”
First-year students, as well as their RAs, will be restricted to their rooms and common areas in the building, but they are able to go outside with a mask on and remain socially distant from other students. They will not be allowed in any other buildings, tents or rooms other than their own.
“I’m sad about it. I certainly am concerned,” Dr. Cooper said. “We will, just like Alumni Hall, make every effort to make them feel comfortable and supported in the next two weeks. I think that they’ve got a strong community. They’re going to need to lean on each other, and we will be there for them – we’ll do everything we can. I certainly feel for the RAs. They’re doing an incredible job keeping communities together and trying to keep people safe.”
The decision came after a surge of positive COVID cases were discovered from students living in the building, and over 40 students in Gulick were deemed to be in “direct contact” with someone who had contracted the virus.
“That’s probably more than 50 students affected. The determination was made that in order to protect the residents of Gulick and the campus community, that we needed to quarantine the building,” Springfield Vice President for Student Affairs, Patrick Love, said.
The city of Springfield had been deemed a “red zone” (with over eight cases per 100 thousand people), according to 22 News, and the number of positive tests has been increasing in the state.
“We had a lot of great success the first number of weeks and then just recently, in the last 7-10 days we’ve seen an uptick,” Cooper said. “We are always representative of where we live and so it may be people being more casual coming in and out of the community or just the fact that the virus is spreading. But I really believe that we’re going to be able to successfully stay on campus if we can all continue to comply and do the right thing and be very careful. And I do see our students doing a great job of wearing a mask and social distancing. I believe in our students and I think they can do it. It’s hard. I’m sorry for them, and I do think it’s hard to be in this position.”
“We’re not going to abandon Gulick and we’re going to make sure they feel some support. I know Annie (Warchol) and her crew (in Student Activities), as well as Harvest Table, are doing a whole bunch of things getting plans underway to make sure that students don’t feel abandoned. We’re going to do what we can.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.