Aug. 24 Message to Undergraduates: Questions about quarantine

This message is being sent to all undergraduates so everyone is aware of protocols, even though they may not be affected by them this semester. 

To Our Undergraduates Attending On-Campus Classes:

Over the past six days, we have placed nearly 60 students in quarantine based on their potential close-contact exposure with peers who are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The majority have been able to quarantine within their existing campus spaces, but more than a dozen are staying at local hotels.

One of the lessons of that experience is the enormous difference between knowing quarantine is a possibility, and actually being directed to stay inside a single place for 14 days. No seeing peers walking to class, no connecting with friends for meals, no chance to see the professor in person—instead of as one more face-in-a-box on a Zoom session.

Keep in mind, most of our sophomores and juniors already are missing those on-campus experiences for the entire semester. Nevertheless, disappointment about being quarantined is entirely understandable, especially given how affected students expected to start the semester. 

One of the other challenges for those taking classes on campus involves that time between learning you might have to quarantine, but not yet knowing for sure. Those minutes—in some instances, hours—of waiting in your room can feel exponentially longer they actually are. The “what ifs” multiply over time, including, of course, the “what if they forgot about me?”

We regret that we cannot provide a ready estimate of the length of that period of limbo. The process of gathering information necessary to determine whether quarantine is needed depends on reaching others, often including public health agencies. Rest assured, however, health services will always follow up, even if later than we or you would like.

Whether students are able to quarantine in place versus a hotel depends on both the nature of their current living area and whether others within that area also may have been exposed. In either instance, students are provided three meals daily, as well as additional snacks. 

In all candor, we have had some challenges in making sure that students receive the meals that meet their dietary specifications; our university dining provider, Bon Appetit, is assisting in refining our processes to reduce such errors in the future. In addition, some students and their parents have indicated the food provided is insufficient to meet their caloric needs. We are also working on ways to address this issue.

Quarantine lasts 14 calendar days. University Health & Counseling Services sends a daily survey to students to check in about symptoms, and also calls for check-ins one to two times a week. Navigators also contact students during the course of the quarantine. Students also are encouraged to contact UHCS with any questions or concerns; both the health services number, 216.368.2450, and counseling one, 216.368.5872, are staffed 24/7. Students also can email

We will send a separate email regarding the isolation process for students who have tested positive or who are symptomatic. For now, we thank you for your patience and understanding as we all strive to keep the campus healthy and safe.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Sara Lee, MD
Executive Director for University Health & Counseling Services