Snowstorms, pandemics, positive tests etc.
By Ananya Kulkarni
On the eve of the icy, windy morning little old Boston found itself the eye of the storm during the historic Nor’easter that gripped the city Jan. 30. Given the hazardous conditions outside, we were warned not to leave. That night one of 3 of my suite-mates received an email, she had tested positive for COVID-19.
High risk, high reward: Suite-mates Bailey O’Hara and Olivia Erricsson, receive their COVID test results. While Bailey (left) tested positive for the virus, Olivia (right) tested negative. However, a lack of Wellness Housing means roommates exposed to the virus must quarantine together.
Our weekend in the snow was off to a great start! While the storm prevented us from leaving at the moment, our situation would not have looked much different on a sunnier day. Due to the latest COVID regulations in place for Northeastern students residing in university housing, roommates are required to continue living with each other, regardless of whether one has tested positive for the virus. This is due to the fact that Northeastern no longer offers `Wellness Housing” which provided emergency residences for students who tested positive. Reasonably, many students our age do not fear the possibility of serious illness from the virus due to our lower likelihood of underlying conditions. That said, I didn’t ever quite anticipate the scenario where I might have to voluntarily lock myself into a room with someone who has the virus after spending a year sanitizing groceries with alcohol wipes. I didn’t anticipate having to risk my life or long-term side effects for an education.
The lack of space for positive students to quarantine stems from a larger issue at the university-- a lack of housing. Northeastern, among other schools in Boston, currently faces a housing shortage exacerbated by the spread of the virus creating lower capacity limits on some residences. Despite this issue, Northeastern continues to accept more students at record numbers leaving many wondering what circumstances we might be facing next year when "Wellness Housing" was removed in the first place due to the shortage of space.
Fortunately, 5 days of quarantine, $125 and 4 home negative tests later (Northeastern’s PCR tests faced extreme delays due to the storm), we were released from our Euphoria-binge fueled quarantine, and we were able to return to real life. And while we hadn’t minded isolating ourselves from others for safety’s sake, we didn't feel wonderful having spent 5 days living with someone who had tested positive. Finally, we all breathed a sigh of relief upon the return of our negative PCR tests. I’m grateful not to have tested positive, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s someone else.
“Back to Normal”: While suite-mates Bailey O’Hara (middle) and Olivia Erricsson (right) completed their 5-day quarantine requirement, many worry the virus remains transmissible. For this reason suite-mate Miranda Rodolakis (left) continues to wear an N-95 mask out of caution.
So the question remains, how long will the university keep playing with students’ lives?
On a lighter note, my suite-mates spent the next few days outside as much as possible and loved the snow! Being from Pennsylvania myself and a regular victim of the wintertime blizzards I can be found inside, under a blanket, until the snow melts!
Westin Copley Plaza: The busy square faced white-out conditions during the Nor’easter that took place on Jan. 30, with winds reaching up to 30 mph.
Happy Blizzard Huskies!