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Notre Dame students spend Easter in quarantine, isolation due to COVID-19

| Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Spending time with grandparents. Enjoying a home-cooked meal. An Easter egg hunt with her little cousins. For Notre Dame sophomore Ariana Arce, Easter every year is a time dedicated to family and coming together and rejoicing in another’s presence.

This year, the Northern Indiana native looked forward to seeing her aunt, grandparents and parents — all of whom have been vaccinated against COVID-19. They were going to meet up at her aunt’s house in South Bend in order to partake in all of their annual Easter traditions. But on Friday, Arce — who had been experiencing congestion due to seasonal allergies — tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed in isolation.

“I don’t know where I got COVID,” Arce said.

She said she has recounted her steps, trying to understand how she could have contracted COVID.

“None of my friends have it,” she added. “Nobody that I know has it … I tested positive from a surveillance test that I hadn’t expected to come back positive.”

This especially frustrated Arce, who said she had been strictly adhering to COVID protocols and restrictions throughout this academic year.

Easter Sunday marked Arce’s 10th day in isolation since testing positive. The 10th day of isolation often marks a student’s release. However, because the University was short-staffed due to the holiday, Arce was informed that she would be released a day later, on Monday — which she said added to her disappointment.

“I was looking forward to being able to spend Easter with my friends and family,” Arce said. “It’s kind of a slap in the face that of all the days that I could’ve tested positive it’d be now.” 

Courtesy of Ariana Arce
“Even my lunch today doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary,” said sophomore Ariana Arce, who spent Easter in isolation. “They gave me meatloaf for dinner like three days ago so I know it’s on their normal rotation menu.”

As her family gathered for dinner and her marching band friends attended mass and ate a special lunch at the dining hall together, Arce joined in on the Easter festivities over FaceTime.

Although virtually, Arce was able to talk with both her mother and her boyfriend on Sunday. But she expressed disappointment at not being able to take Easter pictures with her boyfriend, and she said she envied her friend group — who spent the day outside, enjoying the sunny 73-degree weather.

Arce also said this was the first Easter she did not attend church services in person.

Earlier last week, administrative assistant for Campus Ministry Erin Seeley said Campus Ministry would be sending out a schedule for livestream Masses to students in quarantine or isolation during Holy Week. Seeley added that students in quarantine or isolation would be able to — as they have been able to all semester — notify their assigned Care and Wellness Consultant if they would like to have communion brought to their room by a priest.

These accommodations, however, brought little comfort to Acre, who is a Protestant. Although she said she thought it was nice of the University to provide students with mass times and the opportunity to receive communion, she wished someone had reached out and asked if she wanted any specific resources or accommodations.

“I kind of wish there would have been more of a general email sent out [saying] if you’re not Catholic but still celebrating Easter, these are some resources,” Arce said. “I just feel kind of left out sometimes … I still celebrate this holiday, I just don’t go to Mass.”

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Arce attended church services off campus at Gospel City Church in Granger, Indiana. But due to worries about bringing COVID-19 back to campus and infecting others, Arce said, she has been attending services online every week this academic year.

Arce had been looking forward to finally attending services in person for Easter, especially since a vaccination center is being set up on campus April 8. From isolation, she watched livestreamed services from her local church Sunday evening instead.

Notre Dame’s director of media relations Sue Ryan said she empathized with the difficulties students like Arce faced as they spent Easter quarantined or isolated.

“In a perfect world, there’d be no students in quarantine or isolation right now because we wouldn’t have coronavirus on campus,” Ryan said.

She added that the University tried to provide “as many resources as possible” to support students in quarantine and isolation over the Easter holiday, recognizing that these students were missing out on traditions like attending services and seeing family.

“The Care and Concern team is planning to call each student in quarantine and isolation on Easter Sunday,” Ryan told The Observer ahead of the holiday. “Because it’s a holiday, they’re just making sure [students] have everything they need and that they know people are concerned about them and caring for their wellbeing.”

However, as of 4 p.m. Easter Sunday, Arce said she had not received any communication from the University, besides an automated email informing her that, since it was her 10th day in quarantine, she could begin filling out her release forms.

Arce said the automated email was only a reminder of her unfortunate situation, especially since her release date was delayed.

“I was expecting a little bit more today than what [the University has] done so far,” Arce said. “It’s really been like ‘Oh, we’re sorry you’re in quarantine over a major religious holiday … Tough luck, we’ll get you out of there tomorrow.’”

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