BJU students who test positive for COVID-19 are met by a warm staff and helpful students who make the ordeal less painful than it might be otherwise.
Michelle Benson, director of Student Health Services at BJU, is one the staff members responsible for communicating with students who are being tested or are in quarantine. Benson’s experience running crisis pregnancy clinics and being a school nurse for the last few years positioned her to help BJU prepare safety measures for students during the pandemic.
BJU created SHS over the summer for students who tested positive for COVID-19 while at school. “I began in July,” Benson said, “[when] the school started to realize that they were going to have to do something on campus for students.”
All students entering isolation communicate directly with Benson, an interaction she said is a blessing to her.
“I see every student that has to get tested and needs to move into Reveal,” Benson said. “I give them instructions on how to get tested, what the next steps are and help them move into Reveal.”
Students waiting for results are in isolation, and students that have tested positive are moved into quarantine. Benson said she calls each student in isolation or quarantine every day to check on them and determine if they need further medical care.
Located across from the gazebo, the Reveal residence hall is where students who test positive with COVID-19 stay to prevent spreading the virus to others. Students who test positive with COVID-19 have the option of going home or staying in Reveal.
“Once students have been tested, we give them instructions on what to pack, what to do and move them over to Reveal,” Benson said. The staff provides students with sheets and towels, three meals a day, and lots of helpful tips on getting through quarantine–but not all students stay for a long time.
“Most students are only in here for 26-30 hours,” Benson said. These are students who have to wait for test results in Reveal, but do not test positive. Students who test positive must remain in Reveal for 10 days after their initial symptoms started.
Students who are awaiting results of COVID-19 tests stay on the first and third floors, while students who have tested positive stay on the second. Benson said students can communicate with other students who test positive, but they must stay on the second floor. Roommates who have tested positive can room together.
Various societies sign up daily to volunteer handing out lunches to students in Reveal, which Benson said demonstrates the qualities of a servant’s heart and has helped the staff at SHS tremendously. “The students at BJU have such a sweet spirit,” she said.
Benson said SHS also does a lot of delivery service to students in quarantine. “Friends drops off things in our office, and we take it up to them,” Benson said. Friends and family members of students in quarantine can drop off items for students in Reveal before 5 p.m.
Whitney Burk, a staff member at SHS, was mentioned by several students as being extremely helpful and dedicated to her job.
Daniel Oyarzun Gonzalez, a junior engineering major, said his time in quarantine was very peaceful. “Mrs. Burk was super nice [and] very helpful,” Oyarzun Gonzalez said. “If I needed anything, I could just text her or call downstairs.” Although his stay in Reveal was a short one, Oyarzun Gonzalez said his experience was fine. “I was only there for one day,” Oyarzun Gonzalez said. “However, the people there were really nice.”
While most students only stay in Reveal for a short time, like Oyarzun Gonzalez, several students have stayed for the full ten days. Alvin Ball, a junior communication major who tested positive, said quarantine was a long process of waiting until the time was up.
“The professors did a really good job at keeping things COVID friendly,” Ball said. Ball said one of his professors had been recording classes since the beginning of the academic year, which made it easier to keep up with assignments. Ball said if he needed extra time on assignments, professors accommodated.
“The professors really worked well with making sure I got my assignments in,” Ball said. “It was very simple.”
Ball said Student Health Services also provided him with a mini refrigerator. Benson said students who have tested positive can utilize any available resources located on the second floor.