By Kristen Richards | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
If you walk onto Tava Quad, you will see that it is freckled with the activity of first-year students. Hammocks are hung loosely between oak trees and books are strewn across the manicured grass. It is almost picturesque. Across campus, however, almost a third of the first-year students welcomed to campus this past week wait out the days quietly in their rooms.
Jay Moran ’24, Shira Rosenthal ’24, Hannah Sweeney ’24, and Meredith Sheridan ’24 are just four of the roughly 155 students who are currently quarantining in their rooms after a student in Loomis tested positive for COVID-19 on August 15. Despite an unexpected start to their college experience, they met the news of a 14-day quarantine with startling positivity, creativity, and most of all, hope.
“At the end of the day, it’s really just two weeks,” Moran said. “The semester is a whole lot longer than that and I know I have plenty to look forward to.”
Sweeney echoed Moran’s positivity. “I’ve just been saying to myself, at this point there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no point in trying to place the blame on anyone. There’s no point in being negative about it,” she said.
She mentioned conversations where some students expressed anger towards the situation. Together with her roommate, Shira Rosenthal, however, she is staying hopeful for a safer campus she can explore.
“This is unfortunate, but it’s good. The hope that things will be better afterwards gets you through everything,” Moran said. “The only option is hope.”
Sweeney and Rosenthal share a room on the second floor of Loomis and have been taking advantage of their free time by reading, watching TV, doing puzzles, and playing an improvised game of H.O.R.S.E. with the yellow luggage cart left in their room from move-in. Most of all, they are getting to know each other and counting down the days with hope for better things to come.
This innovation and creativity – the ability to make and experience new things even when stuck in one place – seems to be a major part of staying hopeful and engaged for students in Loomis. Moran has been using his two Nalgene water bottles as weights when he works out in his room, and both Moran and Sheridan have stayed active despite their limited space. Sheridan recalls a Zoom session where a few students in Loomis attempted, and excelled at, running a mile in their rooms.
“Someone measured it out and ran 507 laps back and forth between the beds,” Sheridan said. “I think the top time was 12 minutes.”
Meanwhile, as the Colorado summer moves into September, students in Loomis long for the outdoors. Though their innovation never ceases, neither does their hunger for exploring the mountains just outside their windows.
“I have a view of the mountains, but I’d love so much more to go up in them,” Moran said. He explained that movement helped him get through quarantine this past spring.
“I’d go for these long runs and bike rides and everything, and that just felt great because you could leave everything behind and just move, and here, that’s not really an option,” he said.
Although students in Loomis have been able to go outside once per day, Colorado College has officially declared it unsafe to exercise during their outdoor time.
Sheridan also reflected on her prior quarantine in relation to her passion for the outdoors. Coming from a small town in North Carolina, she had the opportunity to spend time mountain biking and running during the spring.
“It was nice,” she said. “I could get outside and do things without putting other people at risk.” An enthusiastic runner and mountain biker, she is hopeful that soon she will be able to explore the mountains for long periods of time.
Rosenthal spent her spring quarantine in upstate New York, and because she was outside the city, she had the ability to spend more time outdoors.
“I am looking forward to getting to see the mountains,” Rosenthal said. A big part of her decision to come to CC was the proximity and accessibility to nature. Now, she treasures the limited time she has outside and hopes to discover new things and places soon.
The students of Loomis will be joining the CC community in a more hands-on way in the coming days. Following their quarantine, everyone who is part of the CC community — whether on campus or not — should remember their resilience.