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OU allowing quarantined students to dine on campus, grocery shop before being cleared

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According to a university email, students who have been asked to quarantine are permitted to leave housing before the quarantine period is completed.

Before Aug. 29, students who were in quarantine at Traditions West were required to pick up their meals at the storm shelter. In an Aug. 28 email to quarantining students from OU food service administrator Stacy Lemmert, Lemmert wrote OU's COVID response team had made changes to policies regarding meal pickup and when students were allowed to leave their quarantine space.

In a previous email sent on Aug. 27, Lemmert wrote a student in quarantine is someone who has been exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. A student is considered to be in self-isolation only if they have tested positive for COVID-19.

"The COVID Response team and Residence Life team have re-evaluated the practice of meal preparation and delivery to students that are in quarantine in Traditions East and West," Lemmert wrote in the email. "As a contact in quarantine you are still able to leave your space while wearing a mask and practice social distancing so it is within these parameters that you can go grab food from any of our on campus locations and utilize your meal plans and points."

This policy has been in effect since Aug. 29. In the email, Lemmert urged quarantining students to continue wearing masks, washing their hands frequently and maintaining six feet of distance from others when in public.

At 5:42 p.m. on Sept. 3, OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith responded to The Daily's request for comment.

"The CDC defines isolation as separation of sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick," Keith wrote in the email. "The CDC's definition for quarantine is the separation and restriction of movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease."

Keith wrote in the email the university "restricts movement of asymptomatic quarantined on-campus students, unless it is for an essential need, such as food, medical care or medicine and other essential activities."

Keith added no "prolonged outings are permitted." In an email sent at 7:49 p.m. on Sept. 3 however, Keith wrote the university does not monitor the movements of quarantined students. 

Although Keith wrote in a Sept. 4 email the university encourages quarantined students to use curbside pickup options through OU Housing for groceries, students are not required to do so.

"The university recognizes not all essential item pick-up can be done curbside. With that knowledge, OU would never keep any student from gathering any crucial items, and should they choose to do so, are strongly encouraged to mask and socially distance where practical," Keith wrote. "Students also have the option of contacting OU Housing for pick up assistance or call 211 or their local county health department to see what kind of community resources would be available to assist with access to such services."

Editor's note: This story was updated at 2 p.m. on Sept. 4 to include comments from the university.

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