How EWU is handling COVID cases in the dorms


By Ben Blakney, Technology Director


As fall classes have begun again at EWU, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect student life. Following a recent surge of on-campus cases, EWU has developed specific practices in order to keep new and returning residence hall students safe. 

The EWU COVID response team is the merging of the Health, Wellness and Prevention services and the Housing services of EWU. Should a resident exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and/or receive a positive test result, a strict chain of events is set in motion.

“The person who confirms the case is one of the Health, Wellness and Prevention staff,” said Deb Stafford, interim director of Housing and Resident Life. “One of their professional staff works with the health district, finds out [the student’s] information, close contacts and does the interview [with the student]…then we [at Housing] get notified if the person needs to move.”

“The Health and Wellness staff decide whether the [students level of] contact warrants a quarantine or an isolation,” -Deb Stafford, Interim Director of Housing and Resident Life

Hall is serving as the quarantine and isolation housing unit on campus for the time being. Divided into either quarantined students awaiting results and confirmed positive residents able to interact exclusively with each other in isolation, all instances of COVID are contained within a single residence hall.

“The Health and Wellness staff decide whether the [students level of] contact warrants a quarantine or an isolation,” said Stafford. Many of the decisions and delineations happen among the Health and Wellness staff, which works on the side of containing the virus while Housing takes care of the resident.

Housing provides the students what they need in both transition and isolation.

“[The students] have an on-call Housing staff member, as well as a phone number of professional staff in Health and Wellness,” said Stafford. “everything from ‘I forgot my charger’ to ‘my food delivery wasn’t quite what I thought it was’ … we’re the after five pm and weekend support.”

Services offered to EWU students in quarantine and isolation include: a link to order on-campus food (using Eagle Flex), basic non-perishable food items (snacks/microwavable meals, delivered socially distanced once per day), and any support necessary through their hotline phone numbers.

Students with COVID-19 will be kept at Dryden Hall until they have recovered from the virus. Photo Courtesy of Christopher Neir

After a student is transferred to Dryden Hall, the custodial staff thoroughly sanitizes the students’ old room, the floor they lived on, and all communal bathrooms on said floor. Stafford assured The Easterner that all sanitization efforts have been upped as part of the new COVID-19 policies.

Stafford also mentioned a great deal of extra administration has occurred alongside new procedures to keep track of the moving students.

“We have a Google Doc [in Housing],” said Stafford. “It hides the student’s name, but keeps track of what room they’re from, where they’re at now … it’s helpful for all departments because then you just have a sense of what’s going on.”

EWU PD is also upping routine checks of Dryden Hall, should students need any in-person support.

EWU’s COVID dashboard can be found here. Stafford urged all residents to follow mask requirements and social distancing protocols. All of EWU’s COVID-19 policies can be found here, as well as an off-campus student guide for handy reference.