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Welcome to the hotel corona: A look inside OSU's off-campus quarantine hotel

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hotel covid room

An inside look at Trevor Rzeszutko's room at the Hampton Inn in Stillwater, OSU's quarantine hotel.

Trevor Rzeszutko sits in his Hampton Inn room, 103 degree fever, suitcase disorganized, comfortable beds and a non-working ethernet port.

Oklahoma State University’s director of housing and residential life Leon McClinton put him in there.

“It’s a pretty renovated and updated hotel,” Rzeszutko said of his experience at OSU’s off-campus COVID-19 quarantine hotel room. “It’s fairly nice. You put the trash outside your door and put your laundry outside your door and they’ll do that for you. There’s a shower and bath in here. The ethernet port doesn’t work, which kind of sucks. Other than that I think it’s kind of alright. There’s no cabinets or anything, it's just one little closet.”

Rzeszutko, who tested positive for COVID-19 through OSU’s university health services on Sept. 9, is one of 34 students currently residing in the university’s quarantine housing. 

When a student at OSU tests positive or is in contact with another positive student, they are notified by UHS, then residential life will reach out to the student and give them their temporary 10-14 day room assignment on the fourth floor of the hotel. They’re given three meals per day and a daily laundry and trash emptying service.

The new amenities at the Hampton Inn intrigued McClinton the most.

“The hotel is less than five years old and there was a certain number of beds that we had to have reserve or designated and this hotel was able to meet us in that area,” McClinton said. “So we are able to put up 60 students if we needed to. 60 spaces available for the semester each month, August through November.”

With cases in Stillwater still rising, McClinton also has a viable backup plan if the hotel is to meet capacity.

“We’ve been in a situation where we have not had to use our spaces on campus, but we have another 380 spaces reserved for quarantine and isolation purposes on campus,” McClinton said. “We have apartments that are not being used in family and graduate student housing. Then we have another suite community where we would put students there too and the reason we chose these communities is so that students would have their own bathrooms.”

In mid summer, McClinton met with many local hotels to pin down which one would suit the university best. He considered fast internet, streaming services on television and other comforts before making his decision. 

After many meetings with hotel partner Vice President Anish Patel, the Hampton Inn finally became the quarantine hotel for OSU students.

“Of all our years in the hospitality industry, we have never had to deal with a situation like this and right before the start of the semester there were still many uncertainties,” Patel said. “So, we worked with Leon and the Housing & Residential Life Department at OSU to create a flexible plan and learn as we go together. They have been great to work with and truly care about making sure the students have the best experience possible.”

For McClinton and his team however, this process wasn’t seamless. 

“Behind the scenes, the leadership team just really put a lot of hours,” McClinton said. “We’re used to meeting one day a week for about an hour and a half, but we went through about a three month stretch where we were meeting four days a week. Because there were so many changes every day and we had to meet every day to make adjustments.”

But as Rzeszutko sits in his room, coughing but feeling better, he’s eager to see the world again, but appreciative of the university’s temporary housing options.

“I’m honestly just waiting to get out, it sucks being in here,” Rzeszutko said.  “I guess this is kind of the best-case scenario, it keeps me away from infecting other people and it gives me access to school work and TV to keep me entertained.”

editorinchief@ocolly.com