December 10, 2021 | NEWS | By Isabella Ingersoll | Illustration by Gracie Roe

In the two weeks between Halloweekend and Fall Break, Colorado College had its biggest COVID-19 outbreak on campus since the start of the pandemic.  

According to CC’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard, 88 students tested positive between Nov. 3 and 9, 2021 and 65 tested positive between Nov. 10 and 16, 2021.

During this time, a frenzy ensued, as students were not only concerned about their health, but about their ability to travel home for Fall Break. Many classes were moved to Zoom; some students fled campus early to complete their classes virtually and enjoyed an extra-long time at home. 

The Catalyst talked with four different students who tested positive for COVID-19 during the outbreak to see what their experiences were like and how the school responded to them.

Avery Dysart ’25 tested positive on Thursday, Nov. 4, after experiencing a slight fever and achy muscles.

“[The school] seemed a little unprepared,” Dysart said, recalling his initial phone call with Maggie Santos, CC’s Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management. Dysart was relocated to a converted South Hall lounge, as there were no more available quarantine rooms in Loomis Hall, where he lives. He then spent the night sleeping on a couch in the lounge using a sweatshirt as a blanket, because he wasn’t told he was supposed to bring bedding. 

The next morning, Dysart decided to quarantine in a family friend’s house a few blocks away off campus, as it would be more comfortable. “I just preferred to stay in my own room than the forced triple in a lounge,” he said. The school was accommodating, letting him make the switch and cancelling his future meals. 

Dysart is a member of the men’s lacrosse team, and a few of his COVID-positive teammates were quarantined in a different house off-campus, so he was able to hang out with them. Dysart explained that he was “relieved, because it was nice to see friends again and be social.” 

The day before his 10-day quarantine was over, Dysart received a call from El Paso County to receive contact tracing information from him. “By the time they called me, if I had exposed someone, they would have already had COVID for a week… everything was just super backed up,” he said. 

Another CC first year student, who chose to remain anonymous for medical privacy, tested positive on Monday, Nov. 8, the second week of the outbreak. They tested positive at around 4 p.m., but it was not until almost 10 p.m. that they were safely in quarantine.

In the meantime, they felt disregarded and confused about what was going to happen. “They first put me in a South [Hall] lounge, the ‘bump out’, and when I walked in, I knew something was very, very wrong,” they said.

The room that this student was supposed to quarantine and live in for 10 days was completely dark, and the lights wouldn’t turn on. There were full trash cans on the floor in the middle of the room, and three bare beds without bedding, even though this student was not told to bring bedding. Finally, there were no roommates present, despite being told that there would be.

“After seeing all this, I called them to say, ‘help!’” Soon, a car arrived to transport them to the Holiday Inn in Colorado Springs, where they spent the entirety of their 10-day quarantine. However, the school forgot to provide food for them for the first evening and the next morning. “I didn’t know when I was going to get fed,” they said. 

After sending a desperate email to several members of CC staff, they were provided with some support, including food, and an “emotional support dog,” which was a counselor who called them to provide support for the first few days. Overall, their opinion is that the CC COVID Response Team is “understaffed and underfunded,” and they felt the brunt of this firsthand. 

Lander Greenway ’25 tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, Nov. 7, after receiving a negative test two days previously. Slight symptoms on Sunday morning prompted him to get another test. After testing positive, he was relocated to a quarantine room in the second floor Loomis lounge with two other positive roommates.

“It was really easy because they just moved me a walk down the hall from my room,” Greenway said. He believes his quarantine situation was “not bad,” given that he and his roommates were in it together, and they ended up having a lot of fun. They were allowed to venture outside masked, and Greenway and his roommates ended up playing hacky sack, guitar, and had fun skateboarding in the sun.

“Everyone felt bad for us, because they thought it was terrible that we couldn’t do anything, but everyone who wasn’t in quarantine was freaking out about getting COVID anyway, so we had a good time,” Greenway said.  

Greenway added that Maggie Santos ensured students were supported, and she called him on her personal phone. “It was really nice to talk to Maggie during the whole time, because she was great, and she was always asking if I needed anything, she would just call me and check in,” he said. 

Another first-year who chose to remain anonymous for medical privacy tested positive on Thursday, Nov 5. She was relocated to the FIJI house, which is a disbanded fraternity, but usually sits empty. During the outbreak, however, it housed about five COVID-positive female students.

Despite feeling sick for the first few days, she describes the entire experience as being “not terrible,” since she was provided with plenty of support, both emotionally and physically. Furthermore, all the women in the house were able to convene as they pleased, but she explained that “we didn’t talk too much, everyone was just fatigued and just wanted to bum around in their own room.” 

The student was encouraged to go outside, and she spent a lot of time walking around the block with a mask on. She also enjoyed sitting on the porch of the house. She received support from the school in the form of phone calls. Kate Halbrook, CC’s Chaplain, provided her with tremendous support throughout her quarantine. “She even came to visit me and brought me a yoga mat, and sent me pictures of her cats,” the student said. “I literally love her.”

In an email sent out on Tuesday, Nov. 9, the COVID-19 Policy and Implementation Committee blamed off-campus Halloween parties for the outbreak. “We continue responding to a rise in COVID-19 infections among CC students that occurred in connection with off-campus parties over Halloween weekend,” they wrote.

However, some students are unsure if the Halloween parties were truly what was responsible, claiming that there have been parties every weekend with no subsequent outbreak in cases.

Instead, some students are considering the declining of vaccine efficacy and hockey games, where hundreds of members of the Colorado Springs community swarm Ed Robson to enjoy the games. One of the anonymous students said that “I’d like to point a finger at the hockey arena… I’ve seen pictures, and I see a lot of masks on chins.” 

The question remains: how can students and the administration ensure that COVID-19 outbreaks don’t become the new normal on campus?

“I don’t see this going away, it’s gonna happen again after Fall or Winter break,” one of the interviewed students said. “Get your booster!” another shared. 

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