A senator in the Wichita State Student Government Association said Wednesday he is quarantining on campus after his roommate tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I tested negative but I’m actually not feeling that well tonight,” Liberal Arts and Sciences Sen. Grant Day said at Wednesday’s virtual SGA meeting. “So I hopefully don’t have COVID-19, but we’ll see.”
WSU chose not to test all returning students, unlike KU and a number of other colleges in the United States. But testing is mandatory for students living in residence halls — as well as student athletes and some students and employees in clinical programs.
Student residents who test positive for the coronavirus are isolated in extra, vacant dorms. Those exposed to a person with the coronavirus for an extended period of time must go into quarantine.
In an interview with The Sunflower, Day said someone at the Flats instructed him and his roommate to get tested for the coronavirus last Thursday, four days after he moved in. While the university has said it is requiring residents to get tested within 24 hours of moving in, Day said he had not been tested before Thursday.
Day’s test results came back negative on Friday, and his roommate told him he had tested positive.
“(My roommate) told me himself,” he said. “I walked to the desk and asked the lady there what to do, which I know now that that wasn’t the best thing to do.”
Day and his roommate were then moved out of their apartment at The Flats and sent to quarantine elsewhere. Day is staying in his own room at The Suites, and campus dining is delivering food to his door.
In May, the university announced an employee tested positive for the virus, the first confirmed case on campus. Since then, the university has not made any statements about cases of the coronavirus on campus.
In a guide for students on campus this semester, WSU said it “has adopted procedures and protocols to alert members of our community, including our students, employees and campus partners, if the university has knowledge of potential COVID-19 exposure.”
On Wednesday, The Sunflower requested the university’s plan for reporting COVID-19 cases. The Sunflower also requested the total number of positive cases among student residents on Tuesday and among athletes on Wednesday.
A WSU spokesperson said in an email Wednesday night that the university is “still working” on responses to The Sunflower’s inquiries.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports five outbreaks at colleges and universities in the state, with 57 total cases. It’s not clear how many, if any, of those are at WSU.
Sedgwick County reported a 9.65% positive rate on Tuesday, the first rate below 10% in more than a month, The Wichita Eagle reports. The rate is a rolling, 14-day average.
‘More prompt communication’
Day said he was lucky he had a support system through his parents in Wichita.
“I’m not sure what students are supposed to do if they’re put in this situation and their parents don’t live here,” he said. “I kind of have a friend group in place and I have my parents in town, but a lot of people don’t — that’s one thing that worries me.”
Despite testing negative last week, Day said he is starting to feel a few symptoms.
“I’ve had a sore throat off and on for a few days, sometimes I feel like I have a fever and … I have a headache today,” Day said. “I guess I am a little bit worried that I could have it. Just because I tested negative, I could be positive — I just don’t know it.”
Day said the university has been in contact with him since he started quarantining. He said Camille Childers, the director of Student Health Services, has been keeping up with him regularly.
While the university helped him quarantine, Day said WSU needs to improve its communication about confirmed cases on campus.
“(The university needs) more prompt communication with the people they were in contact with,” Day said. “If someone is a roommate with someone who tests positive, they need to be notified right away.”
Day made it clear he was speaking from his own experiences as a student and not on behalf of SGA as a whole.
Testing is available for all student residents until Friday on the first floors of Shocker Hall and The Suites. Students with a known exposure or presentation of COVID-19 symptoms can also get tested at the Student Wellness Center.
Contact tracing is being conducted through the county health department.