It’s been quite the introduction to a new job. Jen Fraley, formerly the associate dean for conduct and integrity, stepped into the role of dean of students in July, in the midst of preparations for the return to campus by students in the fall. As dean of students, she has been critical to the planning not only for students in isolation or quarantine who must have academic and meal support but also in setting guidance for students. We sat down with Fraley to talk about what the student experience is like in quarantine, and how the semester has started.
First, congratulations on your new role. Have the first few months gone as you expected?
Thanks! I went out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. Not only did I have to learn the rhythms of the new position, but also come up to speed very quickly on a variety of aspects of the student experience regarding Covid-19. I’m thankful there’s a very smart and capable team in place here--from housing to student conduct--who have stepped up to the plate and developed very effective plans.
I feel very privileged to be able to take on this role at this moment where I can have an impact on student lives in a very tangible way. It’s very fulfilling and I’m happy to support students however I can.Jen Fraley, dean of students Tweet This
Speaking of those plans, what happens when a student needs to quarantine or isolate?
I am part of our Quarantine Support Team, which is made up of leaders from across campus who support these students in fundamental ways, both on- and off-campus. The team works every day with Aramark staff to have meals delivered for those students with meal plans, and to coordinate any other needs they may have--from receiving deliveries of clothes or other items from residence hall rooms to the quarantine location, or any other kind of support we can give them. At the same time, an academic support team works with each student so they stay on top of their studies and don’t miss critical lectures or assignments. And then further, the University Health Center reaches out to the student every day to monitor symptoms and provide medical advice and service. So we are in touch with these students every day--trying to be really responsive to their needs.
What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?
Isolation is for students who have symptoms and are presumed positive, or have tested positive. Quarantine is when a student has been notified of a possible contact exposure. Students in quarantine may have had a test and been negative, but under guidelines they still need to be apart from others for two weeks.
How many people is the Support Team working with? And are most people quarantining in our on-campus facilities?
The numbers can fluctuate day-to-day. As of this morning (Friday) we have 39 students in quarantine and five in isolation. The vast majority of both are doing so either in their off-campus apartment or house, or back home. To this point, we’ve only had a handful of students in our quarantine residence hall (Arc) at any time--most staying there for a day or two awaiting a test result. But we know these numbers can fluctuate, and we are prepared to provide support to more if needed. The system can scale up, and we want students to know they will be supported if this is something they need to do.
It sounds like students in quarantine stay pretty well connected to campus.
I think so. It’s hard to be isolated from people for 10 days or two weeks, and we understand that. But we have all of this support in place so that students don’t think twice about going to the University Health Center, getting tested if they need to, and quarantining with the confidence that they have people in their corner.
We’ve all heard about the face covering and social distancing policy. How have students been doing so far?
I think for the most part students are doing well. It’s hard to walk around on campus during the day and see anyone not wearing a face covering. We’ve had a few reports that we’ve investigated and had some good conversations with students, stressing the importance of following guidelines and their personal responsibility to the rest of campus this semester. Students have been really receptive to that approach, and understand better their role in making this semester successful.
If a student breaks the rules on protective measures, what can be done?
First, we have a conversation with the student and hope that is sufficient for them to make better decisions going forward. But the Office of Student Conduct and Integrity won’t hesitate to use a range of sanctions depending on the severity or repeated nature of the offense, from disciplinary probation to suspension.
What’s your favorite aspect of your new role?
Hands down it’s the everyday aspect of working with students. I feel very privileged to be able to take on this role at this moment where I can have an impact on student lives in a very tangible way. It’s very fulfilling and I’m happy to support students however I can.