As quarantine beds fill up, Virginia Tech empties a dorm to make room

As quarantine beds fill up, Virginia Tech empties a dorm to make room
(FILE) (Source: WDBJ7)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - For students at Virginia Tech’s East Eggleston Hall, it will be a quick goodbye to their on-campus home. Tuesday, Virginia Tech announced the dorm would be turned into quarantine and isolation space for COVID-19-positive students. The move comes as cases on the campus continue to rise.

All 73 residents of East Egg were told about the move in an email sent Tuesday afternoon.

“The RA texted our group chat and was like, ‘hey, check your email right now,’” freshman Megan Phillips said.

Phillips says the email came out of the blue, and students were never warned something like this could happen.

“Obviously I’m kind of upset, because I chose to live here and would still like to live here,” she said.

The decision to turn East Egg into quarantine bed space comes just three days after Virginia Tech President Tim Sands tweeted the university had “adequate quarantine and isolation capacity.” At the time, Tech was using 84 of 172 quarantine and isolation beds.

Tuesday, that jumped to 119 beds in use.

“Well, this is a completely dynamic situation,” university spokesperson Mark Owczarski said.

Owczarski said while this isn’t ideal, it is part of the university’s plan to deal with COVID-19: “That plan says that when we hit 50% capacity of isolation space, we will use that as a trigger to look at our current situation ... Now we’re at that threshold,” he said

Officials picked East Egg because it already had empty rooms, and is a relatively small dorm on campus.

As a consolation, Virginia Tech will be providing trucks and staff to help impacted students move to a new dorm, and will be giving them a 20% rebate on their room and board fees.

“I kind of wish it was a little bit more, because we’re being forced to up everything and move it somewhere else in the middle of classes,” Phillips said.

From Phillips' view, the move isn’t fair: “It is kind of a duty thing. Our motto is Ut Prosim, that I may serve,” she said. “No one wants to do it, but you kind of have to because it’s what’s best.”

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