Marquette students head home, despite university telling them to quarantine at Cobeen Hall
The university, in coordination with the Milwaukee Health Department, directed residents of Cobeen Hall to quarantine for 14 days beginning at 11 p.m. Friday.
University officials told students there is a confirmed cluster of increasing COVID-19 cases at the residence hall but have not publicly released details of how many students have tested positive.
When Sergio Contreras first heard his daughter's dorm was going on lockdown, he said his first thoughts were: "I'm going there to pick her up." He left his home in Minneapolis at 5 a.m. Saturday and made the five-hour trek to Milwaukee.
"It will be better to be at home with us. We can take care of her," Contreras said.
University officials posted information on their website telling students not to leave their residential hall or leave town.
"CDC guidance suggests that students should not travel home during this two-week period. This is to protect you, your family, and the community. Staying where you are is the safest course of action. Again, DO NOT LEAVE CAMPUS — STUDENTS SHOULD QUARANTINE IN THEIR ROOMS," they wrote.
All Cobeen Hall residents have been directed to quarantine in their rooms and have been told not to leave the building to attend classes or for any other reason except for a medical appointment. They were only given a few hours' notice on Friday night.
"I got a phone call from my roommate first before I found out for myself, and we just panicked because we didn't know what to do," Nayeli Rios said.
"It's crazy, people are running out of their rooms ... There were like five people that were just like running down the stairs trying to get to their parents, trying to get back home," said freshman Analise Segarra.
Segarra plans to stay in her room for the duration of quarantine. She said she will watch Criminal Minds and do homework.
"I'm not that worried," Segarra said. "I know that two weeks is going to fly by pretty fast because we've already been here a month, and it went by like that."
Cobeen students said they kept a close eye on the situation at Marquette's Schroeder Hall, where students have been locked down since Sept. 14.
"After seeing Schroeder shut down, I knew it was kind of coming, and I saw a lot of people leave today just throughout the day and it actually was really nerve-wracking just knowing that this is happening to your own school," said freshman Sydney Waterfield.
University officials said if students choose to leave campus, they must go to their permanent addresses and they need to stay off-campus for all 14 days of the quarantine. They must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before coming back.
Students who left campus must do so in a private vehicle, meaning they should not take public transportation, including planes, trains, buses, taxis, Ubers, etc., particularly across state lines, university officials said.
Several students said they believe the situation has been handled well, but that doesn't make it any easier, particularly because nothing is set in stone.
"Going to school during a pandemic is really hard. It's just very confusing. Sometimes we have to do in-person (classes), but sometimes we also have to do like virtual, and stuff has been moving around. Everything is really hard," Rios said.
Contreras noted that freshmen in college already have had so much taken away from them this year.
"(They missed) high school graduation, so many things that they have been expecting to have for years before this. And now being able to be at college and then having to go back home is very tough for them, but we are here to support them," he said.
One parent told CBS 58 she believes the situation at Marquette has been handled poorly, and she's thinking about pulling her child from the university in the spring semester.
CBS 58 reached out to the university to ask how many students at Cobeen Hall have tested positive, but university officials have not responded to CBS 58's request for comment.