In the midst of hazardous winter weather conditions, public transportation complications and a surge in COVID-19 cases, many University of Richmond students had to rethink their path to get back to campus for the start of the spring semester.
Sophomore Amy Jeon carefully planned a PCR test for Thursday, Jan. 6, three days before her morning flight out of Newark Liberty International Airport.
Jeon was minutes away from leaving her house in New Jersey for her delayed flight when her phone buzzed with a text from CVS with her PCR results. She had tested positive for COVID-19.
After spending four hours — mostly on hold — trying to resolve her situation, the airline customer service representative informed her she couldn’t reschedule the flight or be refunded.
Jeon canceled the flight and purchased a new ticket for Wednesday, Jan. 12. She completed a financial assistance form for transportation, as suggested by Zara Sibtain, assistant dean of Westhampton College, and her request was approved by UR, she said.
Jeon was thankful for the transportation aid and understanding from her professors after informing them she wouldn’t be in class, but she had a more difficult time contacting the Student Health Center on Sunday, Jan. 9, she said.
“I thought they had a person on-call, but they didn’t respond until the following day,” Jeon said. “I just had a lot of questions, but none of them got answered.”
Jeon was unsure how to report her test results or when she could return to campus. She said she recalled a “weird conversation” with the nurse who called the following day.
“She didn’t know any of the rules I was supposed to follow," Jeon said.
The student health center directed questions regarding the confusion in communications with students to Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations.
“The staff in the health center holds daily morning huddles as a team and weekly staff meetings to ensure everyone is familiar with updates,” Brown wrote in an email to The Collegian.
Jeon was able to find how to report her positive case on her own later that Sunday, she said. She adhered to UR’s policy of isolating for five days after a positive result and arrived on campus the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 12.
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After a stressful few days of isolating at home, Jeon was happy to be back on campus, she said.
When she tested positive for COVID-19, junior Emma Sloane felt similar confusion after contacting the health center.
"It was kind of like a miscommunication because I didn't realize that five days meant starting the day after [testing positive]," Sloane said. "It was pretty much 'you can't do this, you're on your own, figure it out.'"
The health center staff member Slone spoke to was pretty inconsistent with what they counted as five full days of isolation, she said.
Nevertheless, Sloane is glad to be back on campus with in-person classes, even keeping extra precautions in mind, she said.
First-year Alana Good said she had booked a train ticket the morning she had been leaving her home in New Jersey because her flight had been canceled. The airline had reassigned her to a later flight, but she was hoping to get back to Richmond earlier, she said.
"Sunday morning, my mom and I realized that we needed to switch — either get a different flight or get a train ticket — so I ended up just getting a train ticket," Good said.
Delays continued aboard the train and she arrived in Richmond an hour late, she said.
Although she did not have any issues getting a COVID-19 test, she wished the school tested students upon arrival, Good said.
"I know that after traveling everyone is coming from different places, even if they were tested before … it could be a lot of exposure, Good said."
Contact news writer Emily Weiner at email@example.com and contributor Ale Egocheaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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