WSU quarantines COVID-19 student as hundreds still live on campus

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The first Wayne State University student to test positive for COVID-19 is being transferred Sunday to a floor in a dorm that is being reserved for quarantining students as the coronavirus continues to spread, and hundreds of students are still living on campus.

The WSU student was self-quarantined where he lived at Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments after testing positive on Saturday. University officials notified the campus community of the case and said the student will be moved to WSU's Atchison Hall, where a floor is being reserved for quarantined students.

"We are following our protocol that was set up ahead of time in the event we had a student in a residence hall test positive who needed to quarantine,"said WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood. "An entire floor in Atchison Hall has been reserved for this purpose. The student is the first and only one currently on that floor."

The case is the third COVID-19 connected to Wayne State.

It comes as college campuses are not completely empty during the global pandemic created by the coronavirus that has been linked to the deaths of eight people n Michigan and infected more than 1,000 residents as of Sunday. Much of public life has been shut down as leaders have ordered businesses, schools and other institutions to suspend operations and asked residents to stay home to mitigate the spread of the disease.

University officials notified the campus community of the coronavirus case and said the student will be moved to WSU's Atchison Hall, where a floor is being reserved for quarantined students.

WSU, like other universities, urged students to leave campus to return to their permanent residents. But it also pledged to support the housing and dining needs of those who are unable to go home or to an off-campus apartment.

WSU residence hall occupancy is currently at 25% and student apartments at 45%, or about 1,000 students, Lockwood said. But that could change since an $850 credit was announced for students to move between March 23 through April 9, 2020.

"Because we had an empty floor in Atchinson, it made it easy for us to set it aside and move any students needing to quarantine away from other students in university housing," said WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood. 

Wayne State is not the only university that is still hosting students who are living on campus, in spite of officials shifting classes online, postponing commencement and asking students to leave campus to limit person-to-person interactions and spread of the virus.

There are about 20 percent of undergrads remaining in university housing at University of Michigan, according to UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. That's about 1,900 students, down fromabout 9,400 living in university housing during winter semester.

"Some students are not able to travel home at this time," Fitzgerald said.

Like WSU, UM is also offering funding to students if they are able to move out. UM is offering a $1,200 refund if they are able to move out by March 25.

"We anticipate that number could change in the coming days," Fitzgerald said.

Michigan State and Oakland University also still have 1,000 students and 550 students living in their campus housing respectively,

Many continue to go home every day.

Oakland University Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said she doesn't expect campus housing to be completely empty because some students are international students or live out of state. Still others don't have anywhere to go.

"We are going to have some students here though the duration," said Pescovitz. "I don’t envision we are going to get every single students to another home."