COVID in Dubai hit us out of the blue in the second half of 2021. One day there was 1 case in my building and a few days later, we had 40. How this happened is unclear. How we lived through it as students and the support the school offered is my story.
It started one morning around 6am when I heard loud repeated knocks at the door. There had been 4 or so positive cases on the floor and a few students took it on themselves to have others check their PCR results. We soon got the full floor profiled, with positive cases staying in their rooms and their roommates temporarily staying in the hallway. Everybody else was agitated and some already made plans to leave as soon as possible but soon, things started calming down. People, where the full room tested negative, went back to their room and those who had roommates testing positive kept waiting for instructions. It took quite some time (information delay huh?) and it was only around 4pm that the positive cases finalized on their next steps: they would move in together and their roommates (till then still “negative”) would move in together.
Of course, that was just the beginning. Roommates who had tested negative soon turned positive and other people who had met the positive cases a few days earlier also. It was an anxious situation for students, but the administration was also spread thin due to the cases not being isolated to just one of the campus accommodations. However, coping with the outbreak the first time had taught everybody better how to cope and structure. Things were smoother and within a week or so, new cases had dropped significantly.
How exactly did it happen? The SP Jain party culture and strong social life happened. In addition, there were some communication gaps (or perhaps it is more accurate to say information flow delays) between the authority and the people in the building. It was a learning experience: when in the beginning, it took quite some time to understand how to quarantine positive cases and how to deal with the people testing negative but sharing rooms with newly positive cases, towards the end, the process was very smooth.
I don’t need to tell you about how COVID has been changing the way schools and accommodations are operating but SP Jain is a curious case study of it. The Dubai campus is one of the few schools in Dubai Academic City which has obtained clearance from the Dubai authority to conduct in-person classes and this shows how much better we are than other universities. The administration is supportive (when you know to knock on the door and make your voice heard). The student body can be very initiating and collaborative. What else could we ask for?