The Counseling and Personal Development Center works closely with the Allegheny College Health Agency to provide counseling services to students who are either in quarantine or isolation due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
“We will call, text and video chat just to check in with the students even if it is on the weekends or after hours,” Trae Yeckley, director of the CPDC said. “We know that quarantine and isolation can be very frustrating and very lonely so we do not mind going that extra step to make sure that they know that they are not alone.”
All counseling sessions and check-ins are remote for quarantined students. Yeckley added that the CPDC staff tries to alleviate as much stress as possible for the students, especially quarantined or isolated students.
“During move-in, we were present, especially with first-years who needed to quarantine in Edwards (Hall) for a few days,” Yeckley said. “We checked in on them and provided resources for them — not even necessarily just counseling, but just a sense of like ‘hey do you have any questions?’”
While in quarantine, the CPDC hosted game nights for the students to alleviate stress, Yeckley added. Once students were released from quarantine, a staff member from the CPDC accompanied the student to their dormitory in case they were unfamiliar with the campus, Yeckley added.
The CPDC did not just focus on students in quarantine during move-in, but also any student that has been quarantined or put into isolation this semester.
“My mental health during quarantine was alright,” Emily Spitz, ’23, said. “It was a mentally exhausting week of schoolwork, but the quarantine itself did not affect my mental health much. That being said, I began to feel quite lonely around Thursday, but by that point I knew I would be out soon.”
Spitz was in quarantine after leaving campus to attend a wedding. She was quarantined for six days — Sunday to Friday.
“This was a week that I was extremely busy with assignments for my classes,” Spitz said. “It was not particularly boring for me since I had a lot of work to do. … The counseling center reached out to me via email on the Thursday of my quarantine, so day five. They emailed to check in with me because they know quarantine can be difficult.”
Spitz encouraged students feeling lonely to stay connected despite quarantine.
“I would advise people to call their friends and family when they feel lonely or stressed in quarantine,” Spitz said. “I did this a lot and it helped greatly.”
Spitz also recalled receiving a bag with activities such as a crossword puzzle book on the first day of quarantine. The bag also contained CPDC’s business card for her to contact if needed, she added.
“We also have the 24/7 line, but it is nice to have someone check in,” Yeckley said. “We ask ‘how is it going over there?’ or ‘how is your homework?’ … Just to be that extra person so they do not feel quite as alone.”
The CPDC staff try to meet with the quarantined students at the students’ convenience, Yeckley said. The staff work outside of traditional operation hours to accommodate the student’s schedule, including weekends and evenings.
“Especially for our students in quarantine, it is the weekends and the evenings that are the hardest because that is when friends are gathering for meals or doing homework together,” Yeckley said, “It is kind of nice and it breaks up the monotony of the day for us to reach out.”
“The college said that if I were to just go home and grab something that I would have been fine, but since I went to a group event I had to quarantine,” Riley Wychock, ’23, said. “Overall for me, quarantine was just really boring. Once my schoolwork was done, I had nothing to do. People would stand in the Edwards parking lot … Seeing people through the window was fun.”
Wychock also attended a wedding and was placed in quarantine upon arrival back to the campus last week. She was quarantined for five days.
“We were not allowed to interact with people on our floor and even the bathrooms were one person at a time — very limited contact,” Wychock added. “This is self-regulated but everyone, as far as I am aware, followed this rule. Everyone (in quarantine) did a really good job at staying away from each other.”
The physical distance and lack of social interaction could be lonely at times, but Wychock mentioned that she frequently FaceTimed her friends to occupy her time.
“There were definitely moments of loneliness and (fear of missing out) — major FOMO,” Wychock said. “Tell your friends to be prepared for constant FaceTime calls because that connection is all you have to the outside world.”
Wychock compared the experience she had with the campus-wide quarantine to her recent quarantine in Edwards.
“It was definitely a lot lonelier this time around, but it was more short-lived so I was not as worried,” Wychock said.
Wychock recalled her anticipation and excitement to leave quarantine and reunite with her friends as well. She also mentioned that the CPDC did contact her during quarantine to check in.
“Trae (Yeckley) emailed me early on in quarantine to say ‘hey, how are you doing?,’’ Wychock said. “They also offered to call and check in (on me) and asked me to let them know how I was doing … I told them that I was doing pretty good right now and did not need them to check up on me.”
Wychock recalled having received several calls and texts during quarantine from the CPDC.
“(CPDC) was consistent in making sure that I was okay,” Wychock added. “I had a very positive experience in quarantine … I would have liked to be able to know what food I was getting, but otherwise the college did an amazing job.”