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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State empties Sterry Hall for student quarantine space

A+photo+taken+on+a+floor+in+Sterry+Hall%2C+Thursday%2C+Aug.+27%2C+2020%2C+at+Texas+State.%26%23160%3BSterry+Hall+has+been+cleared+of+all+residents+in+order+to+house+students+identified+as+close+contacts+to+positive+COVID-19+cases+by+Bobcat+Trace.+The+Department+of+Housing+and+Residential+Life+says+that+the+hall+is+empty+of+students+as+of+Oct.+23.

A photo taken on a floor in Sterry Hall, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, at Texas State. Sterry Hall has been cleared of all residents in order to house students identified as close contacts to positive COVID-19 cases by Bobcat Trace. The Department of Housing and Residential Life says that the hall is empty of students as of Oct. 23.

Texas State moved all residents out of Sterry Hall to utilize the building for quarantined students identified as close contacts to positive COVID-19 cases, the Department of Residential Life told The University Star on Oct. 23.
According to Interim DHRL Director Kyle Estes, Sterry Hall and campus dorms have been used to quarantine students identified by Bobcat Trace as close contacts to positive cases rather than isolating positive cases. Estes says Sterry is empty as of Oct. 23 and that clearing out the dorm for quarantine purposes was a precaution.
“Just in case we need it, better to have [the hall available] and not need it rather than getting into trouble by not having what you need… Now, the good news is right now, [COVID-19] numbers are really low, and so we don’t really need [Sterry]. If numbers were to ramp up, then yes, we would consider that, but as of right now, there’s nobody there,” Estes said. 
Sterry Hall is one of four campus dorms previously identified as spaces for students to quarantine on specific empty floors. For example, Sterry’s fourth floor was the hall’s dedicated quarantine space before the hall was emptied of all residents. DHRL would not disclose the other three halls, citing the need to respect the privacy of students going into quarantine.
Estes says he does not know the current number of students in quarantine on campus due to the number fluctuating on a daily basis.
“I think that there are still a couple of people that are in quarantine because we got a call, I believe this week from someone who was a close contact and needed to quarantine. But there was a period early this week or even last week when there was actually nobody anywhere on campus in quarantine,” Estes said.
Estes says students moved out of Sterry will not be charged additional fees for their new resident halls. He says DHRL prioritized moving students to newer, more expensive halls than Sterry, and that residents would remain with their Sterry roommates in their new dorms.
“We tried to say, you’re going to have to move, but you’re going to go to a more expensive hall, and we’re not going to charge you that rate; you get to still pay the Sterry rate, trying to help make things a little more palatable for them,” Estes said.
Estes also says Sterry residential advisers did not lose their jobs and were reassigned to other residence halls.
“We had had some RAs who had resigned in the last minute; they just weren’t comfortable working in COVID conditions, or they had family circumstances. And we had some people who couldn’t afford to come back to school, some of those were our RAs. So there ended up being holes in places where we were missing an RA, so we ended up taking those [Sterry] RAs and reassigning them to floors that didn’t have RAs in other buildings,” Estes said.
A group of residential advisers at Texas State, the RA Organizational Committee, created a petition claiming mistreatment from DHRL, calling for transparency on COVID-19 cases in residential halls and guaranteed housing and employment for RAs. The RAOC expects a response from DHRL by Oct. 28, according to the petition site.
Estes declined to comment on the committee’s demands.
According to numbers released by Texas State, at one point in September, 65 students were in isolation/quarantine on campus, but by Oct. 6 that number had decreased to 13.
On Aug. 27, the university responded to rumors that Texas State was housing students who tested positive for COVID-19 in Sterry Hall. The university clarified that the floor was being used to quarantine students identified as close contacts by Bobcat Trace, not those who tested positive.
An individual goes into quarantine when she, he or they may have been exposed to COVID-19 but is not showing symptoms, while isolation happens when someone diagnosed is separated from others. 
The university continues to update its COVID-19 dashboard Monday through Friday. University numbers only include cases identified at the mobile testing site and those reported to Bobcat Trace.
The University Star will update this story as additional information is made available.

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