‘A walk of shame’: A look into life in the mods

A common room in March Hall for students in isolation. (Photo by Samuel Augustine ’24)

If you hold your breath opening the LVHN app or answering an unexpected call from Bailey’s, you’re not alone. For many students, much of the stress surrounding COVID-19 stems from uncertainty. Kai Fore ’23 recounts when he first found out he tested positive.

“Nobody wants to have COVID, but it was nice to get clarity because I had symptoms,” he said. “Someone gave me a phone call and told me that I should expect another phone call from someone else, who would give me instructions on how to move in.”

The main location for quarantining positive students is in the March Hall temporary modular housing, commonly referred to as the mods by students. They were originally built to support students during the construction of the McCartney dorms, but due to the pandemic are still in use for an additional year. The college also has additional overflow housing on College Hill, and has rented hotels off-campus when the on-campus facilities become too crowded.

“Making the walk to the mods kind of felt like a walk of shame, just because there is so much stigma around having COVID on campus,” Fore said.

Fore’s 10-day isolation took place from Feb. 24 to March 6. During this time, the school experienced its largest uptick in cases of the semester. Fore said the most difficult part about living in the mods was how confined he was. Students in isolation are allowed to move freely around their floors, including into kitchens and common areas, but they are not permitted to leave their floor except in the case of an emergency, according to the college website. This means that students in isolation are not allowed to go outside for the duration of their isolation. 

“More than monotonous it was almost kind of sad to look down the hallway and think ‘this is all I have right now,’” he said. 

But there were upsides to being in the mods, too, he added. Students’ meals are delivered three times per day, and they are able to spend time together in the shared spaces.

“Honestly, having a common room was great, people could just sit and relax,” he said. “It was fun to play Rocket League or Call of Duty after a long day of studying, but other than that there wasn’t much else to do.” 

While Fore said he enjoyed some simple pleasures during his isolation, he described his time in the mods as “uneventful.” This stands in contrast to reports from an anonymous source who was also isolation in the mods, who said they found more “intoxicating” ways to entertain themselves. 

“The majority of people in there were partying,” they said. “On Friday and Saturday night we threw a sports game on, set up a speaker with some lights, and just had a full-on mini party. We were playing pong on the kitchen island. It was pretty fun.” 

Students have been greatly limited in the types of social activities they can engage in this semester, even after more than a month in Operational Level 1. At this level, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, masks must be worn and social distancing is required. However, different rules apply to students in isolation.   

“You have COVID, you are in there with only people who have COVID. People are kind of afraid to enter, it’s kind of a free-for-all. I didn’t see anyone who worked for the school the entire time,” the anonymous student said. 

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