By: Selah Vetter
A semester of college during a global pandemic requires numerous changes in the daily lives of students.
One of those changes is quarantining and or isolating at college. With rising cases of COVID-19 on campus, Samford University requires students who test positive for the virus to isolate for two weeks in order to help slow the spread of the virus. According to the university’s “Bring Back the Bulldogs” plan, students and employees who reside in dwellings with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, or who have come in close contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, must quarantine for 14 days before they can return to campus.
Originally, the university developed a plan to build fifteen modular homes, called Lakeshore Village, to serve as separate quarantine/isolation dorms. Each unit would have housed two students for quarantine and isolation purposes and included separate bedrooms and bathrooms. The university proposed this initial plan to Homewood’s Planning Commission on Aug. 4.
While members of the Homewood Planning Commission recognized the need for quarantine and isolation facilities for the university, many committee members argued that the modular homes would not fit the aesthetic of the city of Homewood.
“[That’s] extremely concerning for me,” Brady Wilson, a Planning Commission member, said during the recording of the meeting.
While Samford employees argued the university would be following Homewood guidelines for the homes, many members were not convinced that the modular homes would differ from standard trailers.
“It looks like a glorified double-wide trailer with some skirting on it,” Mark Woods, a Planning Commission member, said during the recording of the meeting.
Due to these aesthetic concerns, the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 4 ended with a tie vote of 4-4. Due to the deadlock vote, the Commission scheduled a follow-up meeting on Aug. 11 to revisit the plan. However, due to limited time before students would move back onto campus, the university had to change its initial plan. Samford withdrew its request from the Planning and Development Committee.
Prior to proposing theLakeshore Village plan to the Planning Commission, Samford had already bought the 15 modular homes in order to have the facilities ready on time. This cost the university about $2 million according to Samford employees during the meeting on Aug. 4.
“We did, in fact, purchase the homes and we will seek to recover our investment by selling them,” Colin Coyne, Samford’s Chief Strategy Officer, said. “There’s no plan to repurpose them at Samford.”
Instead of using module homes, the university decided to use preexisting facilities to isolate students with COVID-19. This involves using empty rooms in preexisting dorms to quarantine or isolate students and have the cafeteria deliver meals to students who are either isolating or quarantining. Students can either quarantine on campus or off-campus , so long as it is deemed permissible by Jefferson County COVID-19 guidelines.
According to Samford’s COVID-19 Dashboard, as of Sept. 7, there have been more than 100 positive cases of COVID-19 on Samford’s campus since it reopened to students.
For more information about Samford’s quarantine and isolation protocols, visit the Bring Back the Bulldogs website at www.samford.edu/emergency/information/coronavirus.
Selah Vetter is a junior from Knoxville, TN double majoring in JMC and Spanish with a concentration in print journalism.