COVID-19 case confirmed in SAIT residence

Residents from a distance: Olivia Findlay, on SAIT Campus in Calgary on Nov. 6. Findlay is a primary care paramedic student at SAIT, and a current resident of Begin Tower. (Photo by Anna Smith/The Press)

SAIT has registered its first case of COVID-19 on campus.

As of Nov. 7th, a confirmed positive case was reported in the Begin Tower of SAIT Residence.

Notice of the case was posted on the SAIT website on Nov. 8th, with emails being sent to those believed to have been exposed to the individual in question, and then to all residents of Begin Tower.

The identity of the individual in question wasn’t disclosed, something that some residents described as a source of concern.

“I feel like I haven’t left my room much even before I heard that news,” said Olivia Findlay, a Begin Tower resident currently taking the one-year primary care paramedic course. “But I really don’t want to go anywhere now.”

Findlay said that she found the practice of only informing those known to have been in the same room as the individual “a bit irresponsible,” and was concerned about being unknowingly exposed.

“Obviously I understand it’s important to be confidential about the individual’s identity, but I think the more informed we are, the better,” said Findlay.

That sentiment was echoed by fellow resident Maria Jose Gomez de la Torre Urbina, who reported increased anxiety after the news reached her.

“I actually felt uneasy and kind of scared. News about COVID-19 feels scarier when they are close to you, so knowing about a case in our building had its impact.”

Urbina said that while she trusts other residents to be cautious, she knows that there are many in the Calgary area that are reluctant to follow safety measures, potentially making residents unknowing carriers back to the residence.

“Being in residence with all the sanitizing and other measures gave me a sense of security, which made the news more impactful. The day of the news and the day after, I had a hard time trying to relax,” said Urbina.

This is especially true for more vulnerable members of the community, according to Kyra Clark, another Begin Tower resident.
“Having a bad immune system makes it really hard to get out of the house,” said Clark.

“I’m worried that I’ll catch the virus, and that’s really scary to me.”

Clark went on to say that the sanitization efforts have helped to alleviate some of this fear, however.

SAIT Residence staff declined to comment on the situation.

However, resident advisor Emily Melville urged those living in SAIT Residence to remain vigilant with their sanitization, asking them to “please just be safe.”

“I know isolating sucks, but until they can get vaccines out, just please try,” said Melville.

Residence advisors were informed of the issue moments before the official email went out to Begin Tower, reminding them to tell their floors of the restrictions in place and to keep up hygiene efforts.

Not all individuals living in the Tower were quite so concerned, however, including some of those who have been asked to spend two weeks in quarantine after suffering exposure.

Aspen Singer, a close friend of the person who tested positive for COVID-19, said that the worst part of the ordeal has been the isolation, given how social she is. She said that she felt “desensitized” and “very over” the event.

“The positive case and I are best friends, and do everything together. By the time she was sick I knew well before her test that she was likely going to be positive,” said Singer.

“I am impressed with how Residence has handled the situation, but feel as a confirmed negative that my isolation has been redundant.”

Since the initial incident, there have been no other confirmed positive cases within the residence buildings, but students who show signs of illness or are being tested for the virus for any reason are encouraged to contact residence staff.

At least one other SAIT student, who is in the Journalism program and lives off-campus, had also tested positive as of the latter part of November.

Pandemic Portraiture: Olivia Findlay poses on SAIT Campus on Nov. 6. Findlay has expressed concerns regarding the way information regarding positive cases has been sent out but agrees that SAIT is doing what they can to prevent transmission of the virus. (Photo by Anna Smith/The Press)