As in-person classes resume for the first time in 18 months, UC Santa Barbara has created quarantine guidelines for those testing positive for COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to help keep both students and staff safe from the virus. 

Students have been reporting both positive and negative experiences with UCSB’s quarantining process, with many being in self-isolation for different reasons and periods of time. 

According to UCSB’s Health and Wellness website, those who have tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 10 days following a positive test result or 10 days from when they first experience the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. 

Those who are vaccinated but have COVID-19 related symptoms must take a test as soon as possible. If the test comes back negative, they must still stay home for 24 hours before returning to normalcy. Those who are unvaccinated with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine for a full 10 days, no matter the result of their test. Students arriving on campus also have to quarantine if their second dose of the vaccine had been administered within 15 days of them arriving. 

A member from the quarantine/isolation (Q/I) housing team also will contact [students] to assess their needs and preferences regarding Q/I housing and other services while isolating. Each case is handled individually in order to provide full care specific to the student and their situation,” UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada said in a statement to the Nexus. 

According to UCSB’s Student Health Service, 26 students who live both on and off campus have used Q/I housing since move-in

First-year philosophy major Koosha Yar was placed under quarantine from Sept. 17-20 because he had gotten his second vaccine dose within 15 days of arriving on campus.

Yar said isolated students must receive a meal request form from the front desk of their dorms, which both they and a resident assistant (RA) need to sign, in accordance with quarantine guidelines. Students can then receive a meal at the dining commons, which they must then bring back to their residence hall. 

“At the beginning of the year, it was a little bit of a struggle because you want to go get food with your friends and everything but you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to just grab your box, go inside, get food and leave.” Yar said. 

However, the quarantining process did not go smoothly for first-year pre-biology major Alexis Arias, who went into isolation in her quadruple dorm room on Oct. 12 until she received a negative COVID-19 test on Oct. 15.

“I got sick on Saturday, but they put me in isolation status on Tuesday,” Arias said. “I contacted Student Health Services because I wanted to get an appointment with a doctor because I thought I had strep throat. When you report symptoms, they change your badge [status to] isolation and you can’t do anything to change that.”

Though her badge signaled she was in isolation, Arias was not given any information on how to pick up food. 

“When I talked to the Student Health nurse, I told her I couldn’t enter the dining commons without a green badge and she said to try the Ortega Dining Commons, but she wasn’t sure,” Arias said.

After figuring out how to get meals from the dining hall, Arias, who was receiving help from her roommate during this process, reached another problem — she couldn’t locate her RA to get her meal request form signed.

“My roommate tried to take stuff from the dining hall for me [without a form] and told the workers what the situation was and they made her throw away the food that she was going to bring back to me,” Arias said. “If we’re going to do school during COVID-19, and people get sick, we should have a lot better processes and planning. If you’re a student in isolation, there should be someone to bring you food.” 

Cali Walker, a fourth-year English and communication double major and RA for the Santa Rosa Residence Hall, said RAs only get involved in a situation if it’s in their respective residence hall, but it doesn’t have to be for someone directly on their floor.

“You only get involved if it’s in your hall. If a student is feeling sick, then they would report it and they get these meal voucher forms to fill out. That basically allows them to get food picked up from the dining commons. And any RA can sign them — even if it’s not your resident assistant,” Walker said.

When asked about the process to receive meals in isolation, UCSB’s Student Health center stated that its campus case investigators and the housing team meet with students to discuss their options while quarantining to ensure that they have adequate resources to obtain meals and other essentials. 

“Students receive printed information to be sure they understand their situation and the public health requirements,” the statement read. 

Furthermore, a representative from the Student Health administration said that students who are put into Q/I housing and live in the on-campus residence halls will have their meals delivered. Students who don’t live in the on-campus residence halls can either bring food with them into quarantine housing, have their roommates drop off their meals or use a food delivery service instead. The Associated Students Food Bank also provides assistance to quarantining students who are food insecure.

Luckily, it appears that the number of students who have experienced quarantine is low, according to the Student Health Service’s previous sum of students and RAs’ own estimations. 

“For me, I’ve only had two people [who’ve had to isolate],” Walker said. “A lot of it was just because they were being cautious — like they should. Nothing was actually COVID.”