A quarantine order for UWEC dorms is lifted after five days

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 10:30 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Normally a COVID-19 quarantine lasts 10 days at a minimum. UWEC students who were ordered to shelter in place say they expected to stay in their rooms for two weeks, however they were cleared to leave after only five days.

UWEC freshman, Ethan Joseph told WEAU,

“It doesn’t feel like you’re being restrained, it just feels like you’re being safer.”

Joseph recently was released from his five day quarantine after a student on his floor tested positive for COVID-19.

“The actual being quarantined wasn’t like the worst thing. We got food everyday. Breakfast, lunch and dinner but dinner was the only one that was hot,” said Joseph.

His hall was one of six wings across campus that went into isolation on Sunday. Six UWEC students living in residence halls tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, all students living on those floors were considered close contacts.

Associate director of housing, Deborah Newman, was in charge on communicating with students through this process.

“The wings are considered a family unit so if anyone in the unit tests positive then the whole unit has to be treated like a family,” said Newman.

After an investigation by the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, the full quarantine on those six wings was lifted.

In a press release from the university, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department Director Lieske Giese said,

“After looking at all the environmental and activity changes that were instituted in the dorm and after verification of close contact information from the students who tested positive, it was determined that other dorm residents could be released. Those students who are COVID-19 positive continue in isolation and their close contacts are quarantined.”

“There were some things we were able to change in the residence halls so that they could be sure we could contact trace more effectively which I think we’ve done and now that we have got that in place they felt comfortable with us releasing students out of quarantine,” said Newman.

Students had to take antigen tests before being allowed to leave. New safety features include training more contact tracers reducing the number of showers in shared bathrooms, and the implementation of a sign-in procedure for all communal spaces.

“I think they are taking the right steps,” said UWEC freshman Jackson Lutz.

While many were released from isolation Friday, freshman Lutz is on the front-end of his time in quarantine.

“It’s kind of boring but right now I’ve got a stuffy nose, I had a fever, aches, fatigue, chills, cough.”

Lutz found out on Wednesday a friend he had been in contact with was going to get tested. He decided to self-quarantine that night because he, too, started to experience symptoms.

“When you do into it you think, 'oh it won’t ever happen to me, and then you start knowing people that have it.”

The UWEC students WEAU spoke with today say they do feel that the university is taking the necessary steps to keep them safe, and avoid moving to only remote learning.

They also said it was eye opening to see that just six positive cases could lead to consequences for so many other students around them.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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