GVSU student shares COVID-19 isolation experience

Coronavirus

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Valley State University freshman shares her experience living in isolation housing after testing positive for coronavirus.  

Elise Rapeyko said it all started early last week when she tested positive for the virus and immediately reported her case to campus officials.  

Shortly after, she got a call relaying her new housing assignment.  

“No one was really helping me with it. They just kind of announced that I had to go to a different dorm,” Rapeyko said. “And then it was my job to bring two weeks of stuff over to the building and they said once you go in there, you can’t leave.” 

The bare dorm room came with a bucket of snacks and microwavable meals. It also had a bathroom and kitchenette attached, so there’d be no reason to leave.  

A bucket of snacks and microwavable meals provided to Grand Valley State students in COVID-19 quarantine isolation. (Courtesy)

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this,” Rapeyko said while video chatting with News 8 from her isolation dorm Wednesday night.  

Her set up is one of the 200 quarantine dorm rooms available on GVSU’s campus, less than a fourth of which are currently in use, according to GVSU Director of Housing and Residence Life Dr. Kyle Boone. 

Boone said the isolation dorm rooms are spread out between various residence halls on campus. He said the university intentionally planned it this way, instead of housing all COVID-19 positive students under one roof.  

“We didn’t want one building to be identified as the sick hall or the hall that is looked at in a weird way,” Boone said.  

But after an eight-day stay in her isolation dorm, Rapeyko will be the first to say life on the inside felt anything but normal.  

“It felt kind of like I’m in a mental hospital room because everything was plain and just not right,” she said.  

Since the start of the school year, Boone said additional services and accommodations, like counseling and meal plan delivery, have been made available to students living in quarantine housing.  

“We won’t get it right all the time, but we really are trying, and we really want to make sure that we’re putting their best interest at heart,” Boone said. 

But the first and most important rule has been in place since the beginning: Students are prohibited from leaving their room for any reason, until cleared by health officials.  

“If they break or violate (this) policy, that gets sent over to our office of student conduct,” Boone said. “We’re not doing this as a punishment, we’re doing this to maintain their safety.” 

On Thursday, 10 days after experiencing her first COVID-19 symptoms, Rapeyko received a letter from the Kent County Health Department allowing for her release.  

Rapeyko said it was the “exit ticket” she’d been anxiously awaiting.  

Per GVSU policy, students that test positive for coronavirus have a choice on whether to quarantine in isolation housing on campus or at home.  

Rapeyko felt staying on campus was safer, as she didn’t want to risk spreading the virus to her parents at home. 

GVSU remains under a stay-in-place order through Oct. 1.  

As of Thursday afternoon, the GVSU COVID-19 Data Dashboard reported 359 active cases.  

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