By Daysha Loppie
Ryerson students who went home for the break are facing new quarantine requirements upon returning to residence for the winter semester.
On Jan. 7, Housing and Residence Life sent out an email, obtained by The Eyeopener, which announced that students returning to residence following interprovincial travel would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
After Ontario entered a province-wide lockdown on Dec. 26, the Ontario government strongly advised that individuals only travel outside of the province for essential reasons and self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to Ontario. Students who will arrive at residence during this provincial shutdown period are provided with food delivery and support through a 24/7 COVID-19 hotline.
“It’s only been a few days, but I’m already going crazy”
Madeline Gillis, a first-year RTA new media student, said she went back home to Vancouver over the break because she had been away from her family for four months.
However, Gillis said it was a risky decision to travel out of province since she was “a little bit at risk of COVID” due to her medical condition—parts of her brain shut down when she gets sick.
Now, Gillis is quarantining in her room at the International Living Learning Centre (ILLC) after returning from Vancouver on Jan. 13.
“It’s only been a few days,” she said. “I’m already going crazy.”
Upon arrival, Gillis said she received “isolation kits,” which included toilet paper, shampoo packs, facial bars, gloves and a disposable mask.
She said she was lucky to be in her own room, adding that some students were relocated to other rooms for their quarantine period.
One issue Gillis said she is facing is food delivery—meals are dropped off outside the rooms of quarantining students, and although food is delivered within a “reasonable” time, sometimes it arrives cold.
“I would love to be able to use the common room microwave, but I can’t,” she said.
Olivia Dyas, a first-year creative industries student who will now have to quarantine upon arriving from Victoria, B.C., said she was upset when she first received the email from Housing and Residence Life.
“I’ve never gone that long without human contact, ever,” she said. “I’ve always lived with my family and my room [at residence] is tiny.
She added that although quarantine would be tough, she thinks “it’s fair.”
“When you have so many different people coming from so many different places to the same building, it can be dangerous,” said Dyas.
Powering through loneliness
Nina Moser, a first-year biology student who visited her family in Vancouver during the break, also has to self-isolate. While she said things could be worse, she’s not looking forward to her quarantine.
“I’ll be sitting at my computer every day…and I can’t go outside,” she said.
“It might be bad for my focus. I might not do as well in school as I hoped.”
But for Moser, the light at the end of the tunnel is to see her residence friends again.
“I haven’t seen anyone in over a month and I miss everyone.”
Moser said she understands why residence is taking the utmost precautions. The Eye previously reported one known case of COVID-19 in the ILLC building.
“I know they managed the outbreak well the first time,” she said. However, Moser added that the lack of clarity from Housing and Residence Life about what happens when a student contracts COVID-19 was “a little bit concerning.”
According to Housing and Residence life policy, students must inform their residence advisor (RA) immediately if they’re feeling symptoms of COVID-19. However, Moser noted that since residents haven’t had a chance to get to know their RAs, students might feel uncomfortable reporting to them.
“I haven’t seen anyone in over a month and I miss everyone”
In an emailed statement to The Eye, Ryerson said that student residences are expecting 52 additional residents this semester. Gillis, Moser and Dyas all expressed that they are excited to meet some of the new, incoming students after their quarantine.
With new arrivals and students returning from travelling within Ontario, first-year student business management student Tosin Williams said he is excited, but also worried about a potential outbreak in residence.
Williams is currently staying at Daphne Cockwell Complex and did not travel during the break.
He said he decided it was too risky to travel to Port Harcourt, Nigeria to see his parents, adding that if his parents wanted him to go back, he would’ve refused.
In fact, many students living in on-campus residences have already expressed uncertainties about travelling for the mid-year break, even before new requirements were put in place.
While Williams doesn’t have to quarantine, he did experience some isolation over the break, having been one of the few students left in ILLC during the holidays. Most students went home as ILLC was closed, though students could remain for a fee.
He said he did encounter moments of loneliness, so he had to find different ways to spend his time.
“I went on runs and good walks,” he said. “I read, and ate…slept, and [watched] Netflix.”
While self-isolating, Gillis said her friends at ILLC will sit in the hall and they’ll talk through the door.
“Honestly, I just try and do whatever I can. I find little things throughout my day to do.”