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A syllabus week of unfortunate events

Editor’s Note: This story was initially about students who had to delay move-in and/or quarantine for the first week of the semester. In a cruel twist of fate, Hannah found out on Sunday afternoon that she would be the one quarantining for the first week of classes.

To provide a little background, I’ve been in Oxford since Jan. 17, because I wanted to get moved in early. I spent all last semester studying abroad in Luxembourg, and I haven’t been on campus since May, so I wanted to make sure I had time to get adjusted. 

I’ve been quarantined while at Miami once before in March. I lived on campus then, so I stayed in the Miami Inn for nine days. I’ve been fully vaccinated since May 1, but I have not gotten the booster yet.

Sunday, Jan. 23

1:09 p.m.

While making lunch and starting my mental list of everything I need to do to prepare for my Monday classes, I get a FaceTime call from one of my housemates. 

She tells me that she may have been exposed to COVID and got a test just to be cautious. She tested positive.

We’re not exactly sure what the rest of our housemates will need to do, since this is the first exposure we’ve had while living off-campus. I start to worry.

4:45 p.m.

I get a call from the Butler County Health Department. I’ve been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID. After confirming my name and address, the first thing they ask is whether I am currently taking classes on a Miami campus. After saying that yes, I am, they ask if I’ve been vaccinated, when my second dose was and if I’ve received a booster shot.

Yes, I’m vaccinated. My second dose was on May 1. No, I haven’t gotten the booster yet.

And then came the words I had been dreading. I could immediately tell by the tone of the employee’s voice that the news wouldn’t be good.

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Because it’s been more than six months since my second dose and I don’t have the booster, I have to quarantine for five days.

5:03 p.m.

I call my parents to let them know what’s going on. They both agree that the situation isn’t ideal, but there’s nothing anyone can do. I just have to wait out my time. At least I can stay in my own house this time instead of trekking across campus to the Miami Inn like last year.

I let myself cry, but not for long. I have to move fast.

5:56 p.m.

I regroup and start emailing my professors. I only have one Canvas site published so far, so I have to get most of their emails off BannerWeb. I explain the situation, apologize and offer to Zoom into class if needed. I feel bad for emailing them after normal working hours – and on a Sunday – so my anxiety starts to skyrocket.

6:35 p.m. 

The first professor responds. She offers to put me in touch with a classmate who can help me Zoom in for the first week. She says that she knows it must be frustrating, but she’s grateful that I’m taking the necessary steps to keep everyone safe.

She sends me her COVID-19 FAQ document that she plans to send out to all her classes, explaining what to do if you test positive. I’m not sure she anticipated having to send it out before the Canvas site was even published, though.

6:57 p.m.

My boyfriend DoorDashes me Taco Bell because he feels bad. A CrunchWrap helps dull the anxiety.

8:03 p.m.

I get a text message from the Butler County Health Department to report any symptoms. I’m required to enter my temperature from this morning, although I didn’t take it, since I wasn’t aware I had been exposed until the afternoon. I’m not really sure what to do here.

8:10 p.m.

A second professor responds. As with the first professor, she is sympathetic, and tells me that she may send me a Zoom link for class. If not, I just need to read the syllabus. Easy enough.

No other professors respond tonight (understandably). 

Monday, Jan. 24

7:19 a.m.

One of my professors sends out a class announcement asking if anyone is willing to help a quarantined classmate Zoom into class today. I’m extremely grateful for her help, and I think she went about it the best possible way, but I’m also slightly embarrassed. What must my classmates think about this girl who already got herself quarantined?

9:30 a.m.

Even though I haven’t received more information on whether or not I’ll get a Zoom link for my 10:05 a.m. class, I get up and ready just in case. I could email the professor again and ask, but it’s the first day of classes, and I don’t want to feel like the problem child already.

When I haven’t received a Zoom by 10:15 a.m., I think it’s safe to assume that I won’t get one and just read the syllabus.

2:21 p.m.

A third professor answers. Once again, she lets me know that she understands the situation, and that everything will be fine. As long as I complete the assignments on the agenda, I’m good to go.

2:50 p.m.

I Zoom into my ITS 333 class after one of my classmates offers to host the call on her laptop. They set me on a desk so it’s like I’m in my own seat right along with them, and it makes me smile. I get included in class discussions with ease, and it makes me feel immensely better about the situation.

4:49 p.m.

It’s been 24 hours since I was first contacted by the contact tracing department, and I have yet to receive the email with instructions regarding my quarantine, including a letter that I can provide to my professors. I call the department, and get sent to voicemail. The automated message says that the department is open until 8 p.m. and to call back in a few minutes.

5:06 p.m.

I call the contact tracing department again. Still no response.

6:00 p.m.

Another shot at reaching the contact tracing department – no response. Also, there’s no option to leave a voicemail.

As of 6 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 24, I haven’t received any additional information about my quarantine from the Butler County Health Department. I’m not even positive when exactly it ends. None of my professors have requested proof, although I couldn’t currently provide it even if they asked.

Additionally, I’ve only gotten responses from three out of six professors at this point in time, but I can’t blame them. It’s the first day of classes, and I’m sure they’ve got a lot of things to handle. It’s nerve wracking, though, not knowing what I’ll have to do for half my classes tomorrow. 

My biggest worry, however, is what might happen if a professor doesn’t check their email. If I don’t show up on the first day, will I be dropped from the class?

While all the professors I have heard from are very compassionate and understanding, my anxiety is still at an all-time high. 

Wednesday, Jan. 26

4:21 p.m.

I just got off my second, and likely last, Zoom class of the week. Only one professor ended up having me Zoom in, while the rest advised me just to read through the Canvas site and complete any assignments.

All of my professors responded to my email by Tuesday evening, which was a big relief. 

I tried calling the contact tracing department a few more times, and never got a response. I was able to get ahold of someone by calling the general Butler County Health Department number, and she gave me a number to call and ask about getting a letter for my professors. It was the same number I’ve called eight times. Still no response.

If there was any week to get quarantined, I’m glad it’s this one, since most of my classes haven’t started really diving into the material. 

Besides my two quarantines at Miami, I’ve also been quarantined once at home, so I think it’s safe to say that I’ve had my fill of quarantine anxiety.