Inside Quarantine Housing at Fitchburg State

Tj Saccoccio, Staff Writer

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, Fitchburg State has had a few variations of Quarantine Housing. When students were first allowed back on campus in the Fall of 2020, all out-of-state students were mandated to quarantine unless they could provide results of a negative test. For more details on that era of Isolation, check out Nick Barrieau’s editorial from last semester, which can be found at 

This year, the school has really picked up the slack when it comes to housing sick students. Chartwells takes care of food delivery now, making the frozen TV dinners of last year a distant memory. Ordering food is a little difficult at first, using a third-party web app to select food options. After residents began to understand this though, they were happy with the experience. “I was generally impressed with Chartwell’s dedication to delivering us three meals a day,” said former Quarantine resident Jack Doyle. One highlight of Quarantine dining was the night of the Homecoming bonfire. That night, residents were served corndogs, burgers, and a large turkey leg. The turkey leg went untouched all around. 

Similar to the year prior, isolated students are placed into various Mara Village buildings. The students I interviewed for this story were housed in two suites in Mara 3. The move-in process was pretty simple, after getting off the phone with the COVID-19 Response Team, students receive a call from Housing and work out the logistics of their isolation. A move-in bin is delivered to their dorm and they move their belongings for 10-days into their allocated isolation room. The communication between these three groups is where the quarantine plan still needs work. “The only thing that was worrying to me was that everyone on the teams seemed to be on different pages from each other,” said Colby Molleo. From the time students were contacted with positive confirmation, there were hours-long gaps until the time where housing called to arrange their transitions. Nightly check-in calls were welcome, but when it was time to move out of their temporary sick wards, housing and the COVID team again became pinch points in the process. Jack Doyle told me in his interview, “At times it felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there and everyone was struggling to figure out what to do with me”. Interestingly, towards the end of quarantine, the school was even struggling to figure out what rules to follow. Either the state’s guidelines changed during the ten days that these students were in the housing, or the school started accurately following them three-quarters of the way through. The residents at times felt sort of like the guineapigs of this year’s quarantine program. “The COVID response team was communicative, but not in a productive manner,” said Tim Foley.
As a whole, the quarantine situation is a messy one. There are good ideas, some that are well executed and some that need work. For these students that I spoke with, they left the shadow of Mara 3 with a poor taste in their mouth. While nobody would be happy to have COVID in general, the communication issues between students and campus teams makes a bad situation worse when trying to contain and quarantine the virus. 

Tj Saccoccio, the writer of this article, was in quarantine housing at Fitchburg State from Sept. 25 through Oct. 2.