My Quarantine Experience at Fordham University over the Thanksgiving Break

by Noah Kotlarek

Monday, November 16th: “I tested positive for COVID-19” my iMessage notification reads.  Worried that I might be carrying the virus I call Public Safety to notify them that I had been exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.  Then I get tested myself.  Residential Life calls me and says to meet them by the back entrance of Faber at 6:30 PM.  I’ll be quarantining until 11/27/2020.  Alex Fischer, Director of Residential Life, escorts me up the stairs and into Faber 252.

Before I continue, this article isn’t made to make light of the pandemic situation but rather to provide an account of on-campus quarantining at Fordham University in 2020.  Alex explains to me that the hallway is divided in half by gender: girls towards the northeast, boys towards the southwest.  Being the only boy on the floor I had two bathrooms to myself both across from my room.  He hands me a couple of towels and some bed sheets.  I enter the room, it’s surprisingly nice.  A corner room, big windows, high ceiling, carpeted floor, two desks, two beds, two closets, two dressers, a microwave, and a minifridge.  I enter the Zoom session late and two hours later I’m finished with class.  It’s now 9:30 PM.  I open the door to go to the bathroom and find a brown paper bag on the ground.  Dinner.  It, like the room, is surprisingly good, the cafeteria food but higher quality and selected by someone with real taste.  Pasta, zucchini, broccoli, salad, zucchini, chips, cookies, apple, water, two bananas.  Wow.  Then I go to the bathroom.

Another pleasant surprise, it’s large and very clean.  The shower has one of those heads on a hose so that you can articulate it around your body, neat.  I brush my teeth and then throw a single piece of floss into empty garbage bin.  It’s white thread alone in the massive black void that is the garbage bag.  Time to sleep.

The sun wakes me up and shortly I hear a knock on the door, “breakfast!”  Yogurt parfait, blueberries, apple, and juice are served for breakfast.  Another delightful meal, I’m suspicious, it shouldn’t be this good.  Note, breakfast and lunch are delivered at the same time.  Lunch is a club sandwich, I go to the bathroom, look into the trash can, the piece of floss is gone, but I’m the only boy on the floor, surely a single thread of floss doesn’t warrant taking out the trash.  I rip off a clean piece of toilet from the roll and throw it in the bin.  The sink too is oddly clean, huh.  I shower then “go” to class, study, entertain myself, and eat lunch.  Time to use the restroom.  The piece of clean toilet paper I threw in the bin four hours ago is gone and the bathroom smells fresh.  Turns out facilities management was cleaning out the bathroom multiple and many times a day since they wanted to keep the quarantine hall clean.  A few hours later my phone starts ringing, it’s Fordham Health Services.  I nearly enter psychogenic psuedosyncope, oh no, don’t they call you if you tested positive for COVID-19.  I pick up and say, “So I have it,” before the person on the other side can say anything.  Pause. “Oh hi, this is health services, we’re just calling to see if you made it into quarantine and if Res life is treating you well.”  Relief and also comfort.  Now its 5:30 PM.  “Knock, knock, dinner Noah!”  Whoa, another solid meal from Fordham and I mean it!  Look, I think the cafeteria’s great but this is even greater.  And the people who get the food from the “food center” they don’t just throw anything in there.  No, they pick the best food.  They pick the crisps pears and apples with no bruises.  The salad; they get the good leaves and the tomatoes with the taught skin.  Also, now would be a good place to mention how you get your food.  Every day they provide three meals which are charged from your meal swipes and DCB, once you run out of those prepaid expenses (an asset), you’re billed $40 per day.  Every few days you fill out a Google Form selected which meals that are curated by a registered dietitian (they need to make sure that the sick people are eating properly).

Later that night I turn on my laptop.  Fordhamlogin, “press any key,” Gmail, re: Results Available, breathe in, the moment of truth, NEGATIVE, relief.  Even though I’m negative I’m still required to quarantine until the 27th.  Oh well, if the food stays this good that might not to be too bad, and maybe I’ll have a Walden Pond experience while locked away for 11 days.  I notify my Walsh roommates of my negative test results and then fall asleep.

After that every day was basically the same because it’s quarantine: which was fine because the food stayed top quality, the bathroom was frequently cleaned, and finally I couldn’t make any excuses to delay my philosophy paper.  

Above all else, I would like to thank Fordham, whoever hires the people who work at Fordham, and the people who work at Fordham themselves.  First, thank you Alex Fischer.  You are the g.o.a.t!  Alex was always a quick-reply to all my questions and provided me with thorough, help, and friendly answers.  Moreover, Alex would stay late at Fordham to deliver food to us quarantiners.  Dear Fordham, do whatever you can to keep this man at Fordham, he is a gift from God.  Thank you also to everyone else who delivered food to our doors on Faber 2nd, it was always a delight hearing the elevator bell ring and knowing you were coming to feed us.  Thank you to the facilities management staff and cleaning service, you guys did a job!  When I’d hear you ruffle the trash bags and run the vacuum, know that us quarantiners were grateful for your work.  Thank you, Health Services, dietitian Melanie Simeone, and campus dining, for taking care of us and providing us with fantastic meals and the special treats on Thanksgiving.  I truthfully believe you feed me better than I would feed myself.  Finally, thank you Fordham University!  It must have taken months and many stressful decisions to organize this entire semester and quarantine system but wow, what a terrific job you guys did!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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