MORGANTOWN — Isolation space in Arnold Hall and Apartments and in Gaskins House is no longer a guarantee for students residing in Greek housing, following a spike in COVID-19 cases among residents.
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, within Greek housing, 74 students are quarantining and 11 are in isolation as of Feb. 21.
“This isn’t an outbreak, there’s not something massive going on,” said Matthew Richardson, director of the Center for Fraternal Values and Leadership. “We’re just trying to be proactive and make sure the private residences, the Greek houses, are mindful that they may have more than one positive now, and so there needs to be [other] arrangements made.”
Arnold Apartments and Gaskins House have been used as isolation housing since last semester for students who test positive for COVID-19. Richardson said these facilities must prioritize students living in on-campus residence halls and was only offered as a courtesy to Greek housing, since it is privately owned.
According to the dashboard, Arnold Apartments is at about 11% capacity, and Gaskins House is at 60% capacity as of Feb. 21. The facilities are not full, but Richardson said this decision was made as a precaution to ensure facilities do not become overcrowded.
“We have a duty to the residence hall students who pay the university for housing,” Richardson said. “We don’t want to get into a position where we’re maxed out and can’t move any on-campus students there.”
Aside from previously being offered space in the isolation facilities, each sorority and fraternity organization was asked to develop its own response plan to be prepared if members living in the organization’s housing tested positive.
Last week, multiple positive cases of COVID-19 were identified in the Sigma Alpha Chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi through surveillance testing protocols and contact tracing.
Richardson said due to the limited ability to isolate multiple members within the house, all members were asked to either quarantine within the house until a given date in March, or find a separate location to quarantine. The quarantine period will be extended if additional cases are detected within the house, which has led some members to find alternative options such as returning home.
Although isolating in Arnold Apartments or Gaskins House is no longer a default option for those residing in housing, Richardson said the university is willing to help students to the best of its ability.
“We will continue to help a Greek house if they absolutely cannot find another location for their residents or tenants to quarantine or isolate,” Richardson said.