Head of university Pandemic Planning Team discourages self-quarantine


Audrey Korte

A stethoscope sits on the counter at the WSU Student Wellness Center, located inside the Steve Clark YMCA.

While Kansas is not currently a hotbed of COVID-19 cases, there’s a statistical likelihood that the number of cases of the novel coronavirus will go up. 

Some Wichita State students are preparing to leave on vacation during the upcoming spring break, but what happens when they return is up for debate. One question students may be asking is, “What should I do if I think I’ve been exposed to COVID-19?”

“We need to be following the guidelines of the county as to who needs to self- quarantine and who does not,” Student Health Services Director Camille Childers said at Monday’s Pandemic Planning Team meeting. 

According to the CDC, isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick and quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease in case they get sick.

While self-quarantine may sound like a community service, Childers said it poses a few problems that people might not foresee.

“If there’s a risk of exposure or illness, the county does not know about this person,” Childers said. “They can show up to a local ER or urgent care and say, ‘I’ve been self-quarantining because I think I was exposed to COVID’ and the reality is, we need to know where these people are.” 

Questions arose at Monday’s Pandemic Planning Team meeting about the possibility that students are going to go on spring break and come back with the idea that they should self-quarantine.

“Everyone would like a two-week vacation,” Childers said. “The reality is that it shouldn’t be used because you think you were exposed. You either were in a high-risk area or you were contacted as a person under investigation, and that is the county’s call to quarantine.

“I’m sure everybody is going to be cautious and everybody wants to do the right thing. I totally get that. I want everybody to do the right thing.”

Vice President for Finance and Administration Werner Golling pushed back on the idea that students would necessarily try to use the scare to get extra vacation time.

“I mean, someone could take advantage of it. And conversely, I mean, somebody just might be fearful,” Golling said.

On Tuesday, The Sunflower met with University President Jay Golden and Childers to discuss best practices and advice for the WSU community. 

“If you’re not feeling well, don’t come in,” Golden said. “Irrespective of the virus or the flu or cold, because it’s not critical. There are only a few critical positions where you need to come in, and even those will be alternated, right? So the police officer can’t come in for the shift — we’ll find another police officer to come in.”

Golden said WSU community members should be thinking of two things. The first is to take care of themselves. Golden said he wants people to make sure they fully recover from illnesses before getting back to the grind.

The second thing he said is to keep in mind that there are now more COVID-19 test kits. 

“If you are ill and you think that you may have the virus, reach out to your primary physician or urgent care,” Golden said. “Speak to them before you go in so they can guide you as to the best protocols when you go in. 

“I think for all of us, the best thing is, let’s be preventative right now. These aren’t normal times right now, right? And when you don’t have normal times, it can be scary. But I think just taking a deep breath, using common sense, will go a long way.”

The Sunflower reported Monday that student housing is prepared for quarantined students, according to Associate Dean of Students Scott Jensen.

“We will take our lead from the local health department and our student health center on when to isolate or quarantine someone,” Jensen told The Sunflower in an email. 


List of fact-based resources

With so much information coming out every day across the globe about the virus, it may be hard to know where to look for the best information. Here are some resources every Shocker should bookmark if they want to stay up to date.


Wichita State Student Health Services has a new website dedicated to the coronavirus which includes answers to some frequently asked questions, and helpful links Website: https://www.wichita.edu/services/studenthealth/Coronavirus.php

Human Resources has created a COVID-19 training video for employees and supervisors which can be accessed at: https://www.wichita.edu/services/humanresources/HR_Service_Center/COVID19_Employee/index.php

Health Services Contact Information: 

Phone: (316) 978-4SWC (4792)                        

Email: [email protected]   

Twitter: @myShockerHealth

Facebook:  @wsu.shs 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has launched a COVID-19 resource center which includes sections devoted to Individuals/Families, Healthcare Facilities/Public Health Workers, Child Care, Cleaning, Education, Law Enforcement, Long-Term Care Facilities, Public Events/Mass Gatherings, and Businesses and Employers. The website also has informational videos on there about the coronavirus. 

Website: http://www.kdheks.gov 

Twitter: @KDHE 

Facebook: @KDHEnews

Email: [email protected]

The information hotline # is 866-534-3463, open M-F 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you develop symptoms please call the 24 hour hotline at 877-427-7317

Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) page has timely information on how the county, which includes Wichita, is responding to COVID-19.

Director, Adrienne Byrne, made a coronavirus COVID-19 presentation to the City Council on March 3, 2020. It can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLbZI-IUCvc. If you have recently returned from a country under CDC travel advisory (currently China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan), or if you have been in contact with an ill person who is being monitored for COVID-19, please contact the SCHD at 316-660-7300. Sedgwick County has instituted a 211 United Way number for people to ask questions about this outbreak. 

Twitter: @SedgwickCounty

Facebook: @sedgwickcounty

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a comprehensive U.S. resource providing information on symptoms, how the disease spreads, prevention and treatment, situation updates about cases in the U.S. and globally, and information for communities, schools, and businesses, healthcare professionals, health departments, travel, laboratories and specific audiences like pregnant women and children. Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html


Facebook: @CDC and @CDCGlobal

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the global expert on this virus and pretty much every other outbreak imaginable. Information is extensive and covers such topics as how to protect yourself, travel advice, situation reports, media resources, technical guidance, global research and answers to your questions. This page is translated into at least six languages. Bookmark the newsroom page to get up-to-date, fact-based news on the virus or follow them on social media. 

Website: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 

Twitter: @WHO

Facebook: @WHO