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Return to Learn Q&A: Isolation Housing and Fall Move-In

Hemlata Jhaveri and Dr. Angela Scioscia.

UC San Diego’s fall plan is continually evolving, informed by the university’s Return to Learn program. We invited students, faculty and staff to submit their questions, including inquiries about what services are available during isolation housing, what move-in will look like this fall, as well as how students can continue to receive care.

To address these important topics, we spoke with Hemlata Jhaveri, executive director of Housing, Dining and Hospitality, and Dr. Angela Scioscia, interim executive director for Student Health and Wellbeing.

Q. What happens if a student receives a positive COVID-19 test result?

Jhaveri: We understand the uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want students to know and feel assured we are here for them. We have a very close relationship with Student Health Services and worked together on a well-thought-out process in the event a student tests positive for COVID-19.

All students who reside on campus will be expected to participate in a daily symptom screening and will be offered free SARS-CoV-2 testing as part of the move-in process. In the event a student living in on-campus housing tests positive at any time during the academic year and they are living with others who are not family members, they will be moved to designated on-campus isolation housing. Students will need to bring their personal items for a stay which may last between 7-14 days, depending where they are in their disease course. A staff member from Environment Health and Safety (EH&S) will meet the student at their residence and transport them to isolation housing. Precautions will be taken, including the use of personal protective equipment by EH&S staff as well as masking and hand hygiene by the student.

Scioscia: We do have graduate students who are living in individual units and with partners. If they want to stay in their unit, they are allowed to do so. As required by the county, students who test positive for COVID-19 who live off campus are required to self-isolate and will be provided with instructions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about how to self-isolate. For instance, it is recommended that meals are delivered to the room; the person in isolation should use a private bathroom, launder their clothes separately, and more. Campus meal delivery is not available to graduate students who remain in their suite or to off-campus students. We will also provide daily medical check-ins. They will receive daily clinical support from the Student Health Services team.

Q. What services are provided during on-campus isolation?

Jhaveri: We want students to still have the comforts of their own space to help in their recovery while in isolation housing.Isolation housing apartments are fully furnished. Students in isolation housing are provided with the following items: two sets of bed sheets; blanket; pillow; bath towel; toilet paper; soap; shampoo; disposable gloves; mask; sanitizing wipes; and single-use paper towels. EH&S will place a 15-gallon medical/biohazard waste can in the room and will coordinate waste pickups with the student in isolation housing. HDH dining services will place a grocery checklist in the isolation housing room so that students can order from the market and also indicate any dietary needs. Meals will be delivered three times a day to students living in on-campus isolation housing. Most undergraduate students have a dining meal plan, so it will be charged to their meal plan. If they don’t have a meal plan, it will be billed to their housing account. Meals cost $8 for breakfast, $11 for lunch and $11 for dinner. The dining team will work with the student on any dietary needs. All meals and market orders will be delivered by the dining team.

Scioscia: Each day, students will receive a call from Student Health Services, regardless of whether they are living in designated on-campus isolation or off-campus in their own space. In addition, students will have the support they need from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), with phone and virtual appointments available. Other requests are met through a partnership with the campus Emergency Operations Center (EOC), such as personal hygiene products. For students living off campus, the Basic Needs Center can provide support upon request.

Q. How long do students typically remain in isolation housing, and are there any additional fees?

Jhaveri: Isolation housing is only available for students who live in on-campus housing. Typically, students stay for 14 days. Student Health Services will notify the EOC when students are ready to leave isolation housing. The EOC will then notify HDH. There is no additional cost for isolation housing. Meal charges will be applied to the student’s dining plan. Students without a dining plan will be billed through their housing account.

Scioscia: Students need to be fully symptom-free for a period of at least three days before they can leave isolation housing, including no longer taking medications to reduce fever. Student Health Services will inform students when they are safe to return to their residential space.

Q. If a student tests positive and moves into isolation housing, what support is provided to their roommate and how is their residence sanitized?

Jhaveri: The student’s roommate will be notified that their roommate has tested positive for COVID-19 and is moving to isolation. They will be assessed for exposure risk and provided guidance on monitoring symptoms and quarantining as appropriate. If they experience any symptoms, Student Health Services will assess and support. A deep cleaning of the common areas and bedroom of the student with COVID-19 will occur. During that process, suite or apartment mates will be asked to leave the suite or apartment. This process will take several hours. The roommate will be called once the apartment has been cleaned to inform them they can return.

Q. Will student housing guarantees be impacted?

Jhaveri: If a student currently holds a 2020-21 housing contract but does not intend to live on campus for Fall Quarter 2020, they will need to cancel that contract by visiting the Housing Portal and filling out a 2020-21 housing cancellation request. If they would like to live on campus starting Winter Quarter 2021, they can apply for the Winter Quarter 2021 housing waitlist when the application opens up in November. We are unsure how many spaces, if any, will be available for Winter Quarter 2021. Students who have a guarantee remaining will receive priority.

Depending on where we are with the pandemic and if there is a need, we are planning for flexibility for students to remain in on-campus housing during winter break. Students have the option to remain in their on-campus housing during spring break as well. If public health considerations cause the university to request students to vacate on-campus housing, students will not be charged for the unused portion of their housing and dining contracts.

Q. Can you describe what move-in will be like this fall?

Jhaveri: Students can expect to see changes, including enhanced precautionary measures, to protect their health and well-being. Move-in will begin on Saturday, Sept. 19, and will be staggered over 10 days in order to allow for physical distancing. During the move-in period, all dining services will follow a to-go model only. Students will be able to sign up for their move-in time in mid/late August. Students will be asked to limit their interaction close to their residential neighborhood while everyone is being tested. Programs are being planned for this week that will allow for physical distancing, such as DIY projects like paint and pot-your-own-plant kits. All students who reside on campus will be offered free SARS-CoV-2 testing as part of the move-in process and will be expected to participate in daily symptom screenings.

Scioscia: If a student is coming to campus from certain international locations, San Diego County mandates that they are subject to quarantine for a period of 14 days . Students with a housing contract can complete the quarantine period in specially designated on-campus housing with no additional housing fees; the students will be charged for meals that will be delivered to the housing unit during this quarantine period.

Q. Can students still receive care at Student Health Services?

Scioscia: Student Health Services is open and seeing students; students with any concerns about COVID-19 can get clinical advice and testing at no cost to them. We're encouraging any student who thinks they may have been exposed to the virus or has symptoms to please call Student Health (858-534-3300) for support and testing. After they are tested, we instruct students to self-quarantine in their residence, wear a mask and wait for their results, which typically arrive via the MyStudentChart mobile app within 24 hours.

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Have more questions? We invite the campus community to submit your inquiries online. A new Q&A with a Return to Learn expert will be published each Thursday in This Week @ UC San Diego for the next several weeks. In addition, students can learn more about fall housing operations here.