Students in UW-Madison dorm quarantine share inside perspective

MADISON, Wis. — Thousands of students are on lockdown at Witte and Sellery Halls after University officials made an announcement Wednesday night that students in these buildings would be placed under a two week quarantine following a rise in COVID cases on campus.

Freshman Tyler Rueth said when the announcement was made, “There were people in the halls saying their last goodbyes, talking to each other.”

Rueth said students appear to be following the lockdown rules for the most part, but it’s still difficult to make the sudden adjustment.

“I almost forgot that it was quarantine,” he said. “I put on my shoes and was getting ready to go and get food and then I remembered we can’t even leave the building.”

Rueth said he’s still deciding whether or not he will stay in the dorms for the entire two-week quarantine or if he will go back home to Chicago. If Rueth decided to leave, he wouldn’t be the only one.

Freshman Bridget Barens finished packing up her mom’s car in the Sellery Hall parking lot Thursday morning. She said after the announcement was made that she would have to quarantine for two weeks, she decided to just finish out her freshman year at home.

“I just feel safer doing the classes from home,” Barens said. “I don’t really know if it’s going to get any better and if quarantine is going to get extended, I would rather have more freedom at home to quarantine and just get out and get some fresh air.”

Barens said it made her feel nervous to know that she was living in a building with so many COVID cases. Rueth said there were several floors of the building where half the floor tested positive.

Students were told they were only allowed to leave if they didn’t plan on returning, would be going home for the two-week quarantine, or were stepping outside the building to get curbside food delivery.

Many students are relying on the University to provide meals three times a day.

Students standing in the lunch line outside Sellary Hall said the food is “A predetermined menu, looks like we are only having sandwiches today,” one student said.

Another student said breakfast consisted of water and a banana or muffin.

Students said there are resident assistants on each floor making sure students are following the rules during lockdown. Some students standing in the lunch line said while they understand the University’s decision to have students quarantine, they never thought their first year in college would start out this way.

“We do value everyone’s health and safety. That’s the number one priority, but we also want a full college experience.”