All of the stuff we’ve been talking about with our college-age kids and the coronavirus just got real.
As I wrote last week, my daughter called home on Wednesday to let us know that her boyfriend had tested positive for Covid-19. She was immediately run through Notre Dame’s protocols for someone who had “significant” exposure to the virus. Although she tested negative on the quick response test, Notre Dame quarantined her at an off-campus hotel to be safe. Grace is still there today waiting on the results of a more detailed test that will likely come back tomorrow.
While not every Notre Dame student that has been run through this Covid-19 detail has had as positive of an experience as Grace (ie., difficulty in reaching Notre Dame’s health services, lack of clarity on next steps once quarantined, etc.), it’s very clear that Notre Dame had a plan in place to manage this pandemic on campus and it appears to be better executed every day as they learn more about what they’re dealing with.
When I talked with Grace after her second test this morning, she went out of her way again to compliment the people who were “managing” her: the golf cart driver who took her from her quarantine hotel to the football stadium, the usher who greeted her at the stadium and showed her to the testing site, and the nurse who administered the test. “Mom, there was no judgment all,” she said. “They didn’t make me feel badly for being there.”
I was so relieved to hear this because of how stigmatizing this virus has become. To get their arms around this situation, many colleges like Notre Dame have had to call out off-campus parties as the source of the illness. While this may very well be true, there are countless students contracting the virus who haven’t gone to those parties. I’ve heard from some parents where their children have literally checked in on campus, moved into their dorms, gotten tested, and somehow received positive test results after a summer of quarantining. This can be just paralyzing for these kids.
As parents, I think we have to make a pact not to shame the kids if they get this virus. Some of them may get it from going to an off-campus party with more than 10 students, and some may get it because they just happen to live with an asymptomatic carrier. Whatever the case may be, these kids are just kids. And they are kids trying to live a college life. While we may need to call out some behaviors as reckless for the times we’re living in right now, we have to make sure the support of our students never wavers. If we don’t, at best the students will stop self-reporting. And at worst, we’ll lose some of these kids because the mental anguish will be too much. To me, supporting our children is the very least we can do.
On a side note, a huge thank you to all of you who have reached out to ask about Grace and sent your well wishes. She’s doing great and keeping her spirits up! She wants to be at Notre Dame and I think she speaks for most of her classmates when she says that being quarantined is a small price to pay if she can stay on campus for an entire semester. I really hope ND can pull this off! Go Irish!