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How 1 COVID-19 positive student thrived in on-campus isolation

Riley Hayes, a junior majoring in communication and outdoor education and leadership tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 20. After testing positive with no symptoms, Hayes stayed in the isolation dorms in Carleson Hall for 10 days. 

After she was released on Aug. 30., The Forum spoke with Hayes about her feelings on her time in isolation.  

“It feels a lot like a Rapunzel situation,” Hayes said. “Like, especially when you’re talking down out the window to someone on the ground. It’s ok, I mean it’s not horrible.”

Hayes kept a positive attitude about her unexpected time in isolation while she waited to meet up with her field semester classmates in Wyoming. 

“It’s like a snow day where you’re stuck there for 10 days,” Hayes said. 

Riley Hayes, a junior communication and outdoor education and leadership double major, practices front flips on mattresses in Carleson Hall Aug. 25. Hayes was instructed to isolate in Carleson after testing positive for the coronavirus, staying in a designated dorm room for 10 days. (Photo Courtesy: Riley Hayes)

During her isolation period, Hayes played Wii, used binoculars for people watching, created a homemade ski ball course, played with Slinkys, watched Netflix and practiced flips on mattresses to entertain herself. 

She stayed in contact with friends by talking on FaceTime, yelling down from the second story window and connecting on social media. Hayes documented her daily activities on Snapchat to her followers who were “crazy supportive.”

Inside the isolation dorms, Hayes was required to wear a mask at all times unless she was alone in her room. The restriction was a “bummer” that made it impossible to ignore her anomalous situation.

“Ok, any sense of normalcy has been eliminated,” Hayes said. 

However, Hayes said she was able to keep her spirits up with help from her friends. 

“The only thing that’s kept morale up for me is that we got food up by using a pulley,” Hayes said.

While isolation held ups and downs, Hayes said she considers it a mostly  positive event. 

“This is an experience not many people will have,” Hayes said. “It’s super unique.”


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Kate McMaster is a junior majoring in communication and minoring in film studies at Westminster College. She is especially interested in visual communication and graphic design. Off campus she enjoys playing guitar, painting, hiking and movies.

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