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Lula O'Donnell / Columbia Daily Spectator

Due to the late notice, students are scrambling to make urgent accommodations and facing additional financial barriers that could cost them thousands.

Barnard students from hot spot U.S. states and territories must make their own arrangements to quarantine for two weeks before arriving on campus, according to an Aug. 3 email sent by Provost Linda Bell and Dean of the College Leslie Grinage. This leaves students from 34 states and Puerto Rico with two weeks to find alternative housing options to abide by the New York travel advisory.

The two-week quarantine travel advisory, updated daily, applies to individuals traveling from states with a 10 percent or higher positivity test rate, or 10 confirmed cases for every 100,000 residents, based upon a seven-day rolling average. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the order on June 24 in coordination with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

Due to the late notice, students are scrambling to make urgent accommodations and facing additional financial barriers that could cost them thousands.

Students on financial aid and with extenuating circumstances will be given help from Barnard to offset costs, according to the email.

In the email, Barnard administrators said they would provide information about local hotels with negotiated rates to students moving on campus in the fall. That information is now found on the Barnard housing portal. Students can also choose to quarantine in non-designated hotels and states not listed on the travel advisory. Barnard is permitting students on campus only if they have written confirmation of their quarantine period.

Skylar Quinn, BC ’24, from Los Angeles, said she is planning on finding a hotel arrangement and researching the three hotels at which Barnard is offering discounted prices: Aloft Harlem, Days Hotel by Wyndham on Broadway, and Hotel Newton. Prices are, on average, $100 a night.

“Staying at a hotel for 14 nights and then paying for all the food or food service that comes with those 14 days—that’s a pretty big burden,” Quinn said. “I still want to go, even though the whole hotel thing is a bit abrupt and a bit complicated.”

Like other Barnard students from hot spot states, Olivia Appel, BC ’24, from Ackworth, Iowa, said the rushed timeline has made her more likely to stay home.

“The only thing that is pushing me to be on campus is knowing that the quality of education will be a little bit better, but the struggles communication-wise [and] the fact that it will cost a lot of money for maybe not that much benefit are strong cons to going back to campus,” Appel said.

Given the timing of Barnard’s announcement and the potential hotel costs, students who considered staying home had until Aug. 5, when housing cancellation fees increased by over $250.

“I think that Barnard should reconsider that fee, but that’s definitely a pushing factor for me to try to make this decision,” Appel said. “I really only have 24 hours to decide what I want to do.”

For Grace Tulinsky, BC ’24, who hails from Los Angeles, the announcement has left her wondering if she should change her fall plan as well.

“We’ve got such limited time to make decisions about traveling and finding hotels because, with such late notice, there’s really not a lot of options out there,” Tulinsky said. “It’s very stressful for me and my family and everyone that I’ve been talking to, to have to make such quick decisions, especially with big unknowns.”

Despite quarantining off campus, students will have access to medical care through Barnard and other resources during the two weeks.

Some student leaders—including resident assistants, orientation leaders, and global ambassadors—and international students coming from nations with widespread ongoing transmission will be allowed to quarantine on campus.

After quarantining, students will enter campus with those from states and territories without a travel advisory. They will not be able to bring anyone with them into their residence halls during move-in, and they are required to stay in their assigned rooms upon arrival until they test negative for COVID-19. Tests are estimated to take two days.

Appel said she feels that the hassle of quarantining off campus might be too great for students, as they have to stay there for two weeks before they receive the meals and other programs Barnard has said it will provide during their on-campus quarantine period.

“You have to move all of your stuff from the hotel and then into the dorm, and you’re not allowed to have anyone with you,” Appel said. “Unless you want to have a parent stay in the hotel with you for two weeks, and most parents can’t swing two weeks out of work to do that, it is a bit more difficult to stay in the hotel for quarantine than it would have been in the dorm.”

Unlike Barnard, Columbia is allowing students from hot spot states and territories to quarantine on campus starting on their move-in dates.

Tulinsky, along with other Barnard students, said she felt disoriented by Barnard’s communication and was under the impression that she would be able to quarantine on campus.

“They really put an emphasis on wanting to make sure that the students were going through the same thing together and that nobody felt left out,” Tulinsky said. “[But] they announced the complete opposite of that attitude.”

News fellow Talia Abrahamson can be contacted at editor@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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Barnard quarantine COVID-19 hotel travel advisory hot spot
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