Dispatch from Dolan Hall: what it was like in on-campus quarantine


Eric Fogle

An empty hallway in the quarantine dorm.

Eric Fogle, Guest Columnist

I was quarantined in Dolan Hall at the start of the semester. When I tell people about this experience, their first question is whether I had COVID-19. Though I was in close contact with someone tested positive, I never did, so as far as I’m concerned, the whole week was spectacularly unnecessary. Though, it’s important to note that the Health Center would consider it a reasonable preventative precaution. The following is a detailed account of the week I spent in isolation.

When I got the call from Residence Life, I did my best to talk my way out of moving. It didn’t work. The elapsed time between ResLife’s call and my move into Dolan was roughly an hour and a half. Within the first 10 minutes of being in Dolan, the move-in joy was gone. 

There were four other guys on the second floor of Dolan for most of the week. It helped that three of them had lived on my floor of Campion last year, so there was an immediate sense of camaraderie between us. If any of us felt bad about being quarantined, the others offered socially distanced moral support. 

Meals were delivered three times a day, as promised. The styrofoam boxes came sideways sometimes, which is an effective way to conserve space, but it was bad when the meal included gravy. To order food, I had to scan a QR code that took me to a Google Form. I learned too late that I could put whatever name I wanted, and the meals would still be delivered. I was “Public Enemy No. 4” for one glorious day.

What is provided: sheets, a pillowcase, a towel, hotel-room style toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, a remarkably small trash can and brown paper bags that also serve as trash cans.

What to bring: chargers, speaker, all school supplies, shower stuff, pillow, anything that’ll reliably keep you entertained, laundry detergent (or like four extra outfits) and a comfortable pair of slides.

On my fifth day, I called the JCU Health Center and was told that ResLife would answer my questions about what the return to normal life would look like. ResLife told me that the Health Center had the answers I needed. I said thank you and laughed. I couldn’t get the image of the scarecrow from “The Wizard of Oz” pointing in both directions out of my head. 

Then and there, I looked out of my window and had my “isolation breakthrough”: Give up the ridiculous expectation that someone has all the answers, the fear and anxiety that it’s not you and the hope that there are supposed to be answers to every last question.

On the sixth day, the day before I was scheduled to be released, I got a bunch of new floormates. Dolan looks big from the outside, but it gets a lot smaller when everyone inside either has COVID-19 or was in contact with someone who does. To be brief, it wasn’t a bad time, but I’m worried that this building will see a lot more people. If I had to venture a guess, Dolan will be at capacity in a month, and we’ll be going home around the same time we did last year. Until then, send flowers in lieu of help.