‘A process I’ll never forget’: Brockport staff members reflect on SUNY student quarantine

Coronavirus

BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — All of the SUNY study abroad students who were quarantined at SUNY Brockport are officially moved out. As of Wednesday, Gordon Hall is empty once again.

Long nights, collaboration, and communication are some of the factors staff members said went into making Brockport home to 34 SUNY students over the past few weeks. Those involved say this was truly a group effort. They said it definitely wasn’t easy but they pulled it off with the help of the campus community.

Hazen Health Center director Cheryl Van Lare said she always knew there were plans in place for a pandemic. But it was surreal to actually have to use them.

“We had to figure out how we were going to staff this building and we were told we had to be in the building for 24 hours, seven days a week for the two weeks the students were going to be there,” she said.

That building, Gordon Hall, had been empty for awhile. Emergency manager Fred Rion said getting it ready was one of the first steps.

“All of a sudden we’re in this situation where facilities has to go in and make these rooms- restrooms, bedrooms, etcetera, functioning and working,” Rion said.

Realizing these students were being pulled from an opportunity of a lifetime is something Rion kept in mind the whole time.

“Just from a mental health perspective we wanted to make them as comfortable as they possibly could be. We were ordering televisions and microwaves for the rooms.”

When students arrived, health center staff called in and checked on them daily. Some employees ended up working multiple 24 hour shifts in Gordon Hall. The students that arrived from South Korea were still taking online classes on South Korea time, meaning staff were on both day and night shifts, helping and checking on students.

Rion said he wanted the students to have everything they needed.

“Feeling the responsibility, are we doing everything we possibly can to make sure everybody is safe and are we doing everything we can do,” he said of his thoughts during the process.

Both Van Lare and Rion said this was an experience they’ll always remember.

“It wasn’t by any means easy, but I think with everybody working together we made it work,” Van Lare said.

“One of the students, I think it was her 21st, birthday we had staff get gifts and cake and we were standing outside in the rain singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her outside her window. Those kinds of things made it a process that I’ll never forget,” said Rion.

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