Twenty three hours inside the college’s quarantine residence

By Domenic Conte, Magazine Editor

I’d give the Paramount Hotel three stars following my brief stay in the college’s on-campus quarantine residence hall. 

After showing symptoms of COVID-19 but receiving a negative test last week, I was advised by the college’s Center for Health and Services to head to Tufts for a “rapid test” and another Broad Institute test to definitely rule out any chance of me having COVID. While I awaited the results, I was required to stay in the Paramount Center, my first and hopefully last time in the dorm altogether. 

Until I tested negative twice more and was diagnosed with “some other viral illness,” I moped around my sixth floor room, switching between chills and hot flashes, praising ExtraStrength Tylenol because I’d never used it before. Even though my stay only lasted a mere 23 hours, I wish I had brought a few more things, which is basically the extent of my takeaways from my experience with the college’s quarantine dorming and process. I also couldn’t help but think of the students who end up in Paramount with a long stay, an illness far worse than mine, or both.

The college’s process, in my experience, lends itself to a smooth arrival to Paramount. I immediately received a phone call from the resident director of the building. She called me from her cell phone, and for the rest of my time there, she provided a highly receptive hand if ever needed. I appreciated having a number to reach out to if I needed anything, which I’m thankful for because it helped mitigate the isolated feelings that come with being practically locked down. 

Housing Director Christie Anglade sends students entering quarantine a thorough list of items they may want to bring to Paramount. She covers the essentials: chargers, favorite snacks, toiletries, etc. Although the email and list provided is certainly helpful as a guide, there are some things omitted from that list I highly recommend any student entering Paramount not do without: 

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Pillows 

This may seem obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me. Perhaps it was because I was so apathetic about going in the first place that I purposely packed minimal items, as if I were somehow manifesting a short stay. Regardless, I guarantee not bringing a pillow to quarantine will be your No. 1 regret. 

When you enter the quarantine room, on the bed, there are two fleece, hospital-style blankets, a top sheet, towels, and what is actually a pillow, despite it looking like someone took a regular pillow and rolled it out until thinner than a twice-folded towel. I was about to text the resident director to tell her I did not receive a pillow before I was able to identify the one they provide—seriously, it’s closer to the thickness of a comforter than any other pillow, and it looks like one, too. I’d never seen anything like it. Bring your own! Your neck is telling you this, not me. 

Mattress Pads

If there’s anyone out there sleeping on a college mattress without a mattress pad, what planet are you from? And if you’ve never slept on our mattresses without padding of some sort, believe me when I say how miserable it is. My neck hurt from the “pillow”, but the back aches were unforgiving the next day. Not having a mattress pad, combined with not having a genuine pillow, made my short stay in the Paramount a little distressing. I spent only one night without these items, and will see to it that I never relive the experience. If my stay were longer, I would have done whatever it took to have these bedding materials.  

The college is also obliged to provide students entering quarantine a cart to bring belongings. I did not seize this opportunity. If I knew what I know now, I would have requested a cart for these items. So, if they do not already deliver a cart to you, know that you are entitled to one, and you may want to use one. 

Additional Blankets 

For those students who like to sleep with anything more than two light fleece blankets and a surprisingly rough top sheet, I’d recommend bringing an additional blanket of choice to Paramount. The fleece blankets are an ugly sandpaper color, but the top sheet actually felt like it. Having another blanket, pillow, and a mattress pad would have made my time there far more enjoyable. And if such items were already provided, I’d be looking at probably a four-star review. 

I understand these slight complaints may come off as petty and ungrateful. However, I’d stress the fact that this building is a place we are sending students who may be severely ill. While the general process of entering and leaving is logistically sound, the food provided in abundance, and an overall sense of security established, an improved set of bedding materials would go a long way for students under the weather. In my brief time there, I could not help but think of fevered students days into their stay, struggling for warmth with three thin blankets, twisting and turning while searching for a comfortable position, neck lacking elevation.

I would argue the asymptomatic student is served rather well through our quarantine process, despite them perhaps wishing for a higher quality pillow, but symptomatic students, on the other hand, deserve better. This is likely why all of my complaints relate to the sleeping experience—I’d personally challenge all those involved in deciding that the materials provided were enough to sleep just one night with them. And then consider doing that with a virus.  

That’s essentially it for the things that weren’t already outlined by housing. I’d encourage bringing snacks and water, although the three meals a day do bring plenty of food opportunities. If you think you’ll want more than a bottle’s worth of water per meal, I’d recommend a cup or water bottle. And if you know you are staying for a long period of time, I’d consider bringing a decoration of some sort in case the view presented is that of a brick wall. 

Oh, and they also don’t knock in the morning when delivering breakfast. So if you’re in quarantine, check periodically, or else you’ll notice too late and be like me—restless, neck and back aching, staring out at an empty beige brick wall and then staring down at a clump of cold eggs.

#KeepParamountEmpty

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