North Texas Daily

Kerr Hall students quarantined, alleged influx of testing in dorm

Kerr Hall students quarantined, alleged influx of testing in dorm

Kerr Hall students quarantined, alleged influx of testing in dorm
October 29
16:00 2020

While the university’s Senior Communications Strategist said she could not comment on specific locations where COVID-19 cases occurred, some students allege entire floors of residents in Kerr Hall were tested and several were quarantined in McConnell Hall.

As of Oct. 26, the university has reported 363 positive cases since Aug. 7. Senior Communications Strategist Amy Armstrong said the university cannot comment on specific cases or locations because of the potential of providing identifying information, which would compromise privacy laws.

Elementary education freshman Kennedy Williams — who quarantined in McConnell for 14 days after testing negative — alleged multiple floors, including the entirety of the third floor on the B side, were tested. 

“I was initially filled with a lot of anger and sadness at UNT,” Williams said. “But I know that this pandemic is not easy. My RA, hall directors and front desk clerks were very supportive. They aided me in getting things from my room whilst in quarantine and made sure I knew who to call if I had any issues.”

The North Texas Daily contacted Kerr Community Directors Quinton Lane and Russell Bouyer. Bouyer did not respond and Lane said he was not allowed to answer questions for an interview and referred the North Texas Daily to the university’s COVID-19 Hotline. The COVID-19 Hotline said it would share the Daily‘s questions with the tracing team, who have not responded.

The Daily also reached out to an RA from the hall but did not receive a response. The Daily reached out to Associate Director for Housing James Fairchild but did not receive a response. Armstrong contacted the Daily and said housing was not able to answer the Daily‘s questions due to privacy reasons.

International studies freshman Cassandra Corona — who also tested negative — said the front desk ensured students wore their masks and kept those who are not residents from entering the building. However, she said she found it difficult to get in contact with the Student Health and Wellness Center.

“My only grievance toward [the university] during this pandemic is that it took me a while to get a hold of someone to ask questions,” Corona said. “The student [Health and Wellness Center] never posted my test results as they said they would [and] when I called they didn’t even pick up the phone.” 

Business freshman Ashank Annam tested positive for the coronavirus and quarantined at home but did not experience any symptoms. 

“I felt the contact tracing team at [the university] did a great job locating people who had COVID and people who [were] exposed to us,” Annam said. 

Armstrong said when the university has a confirmed positive case, their first step is to isolate the sick individual(s). 

Our contact tracing team immediately launches its case investigation and housing works with students if they need to isolate to ensure all their needs are met,” Armstrong said. “The process of contact tracing is intended to isolate the virus, so that it has little to no impact on our campus community.”

When the university’s case investigators receive a report of symptoms, they will send a self-isolate email to the student, which the university will forward to the Director of Public Health to explain what areas need to be sanitized. 

Corona said the environment of the hall shifted as people began testing positive.

“You could kind of feel that people began worrying more,” Corona said. “My friends and I definitely started to after hearing the third floor had some positive cases, which led to all of my friends and me in Kerr to go get tested.”

Armstrong said the university does not plan to implement changes to its COVID-19 response plan due to the low number of cases the university has had. 

As President Smatresk said in his letter to our community on Oct. 8, we ask that students focus on social distancing, wearing masks, and complying with many other safety guidelines we established during the summer,” Armstrong said. 

Featured Image: UNT students walk to and from Kerr Hall on Oct. 20, 2020. Residents on entire floors are being tested due a recent COVID-19 outbreak. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

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Makayla Herron

Makayla Herron

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