Life at the AUD Dorms in the Time of Corona

Strict safety measures have been enforced at the dorms of the American University in Dubai where some students, feeling isolated in their rooms, are looking forward to going back to normal life. 

 “We have less students in the dorms” as several students from other Emirates supposed to reside at the dorms have cancelled their stay after the AUD President, David Schmidt, announced an extension of the fully online courses until March 14,  AUD housing manager Rayya Al Barazi told the MBRSC Post.

Students were supposed to return on campus on January 24 as part of the “Hyflex” learning program before AUD took the decision to postpone their return amid an increase of Covid-19 cases in the United Arab Emirates.

Al Barazi explained that AUD is enforcing strict measures to protect the students at the dorms. Posters providing explanation about safety procedures have been put up on every floor of the dorms to make sure the students are following guidelines. “We are assigning single rooms for the price of a shared room for all the students, and no visitors are allowed into the halls.”

Students should provide a PCR test to the Health Center before checking-in. Those who leave campus for more than 14 days should also present a valid PCR test even if they did not leave the country. In case of a Covid-19 case at the dorms,  the infected student has to remain isolated in their room until a valid negative PCR test is provided.

“This is coordinated with the Health Center and the housing securities to allow students to leave their rooms to do a PCR test”, said Elinor Cervantes, AUD health center nurse. 

Cervantes said that the dorm’s controller, Einita Bentillo, helps with delivering food outside the door of the quarantined students. 

“We do not provide any medications for the infected students, hence we encourage them to boost their immune system by taking vitamins daily, get the proper rest and eat healthy meals to aid fast recovery, ” said Nelly Halabi, an AUD health center nurse.  

The health center provides assistance to the students through a telephone number, which is 056-9167761, to ensure the safety of patients and health providers, and to reduce face to face interactions as much as possible.

“As a Resident Assistant in the males’ dorms, my responsibility is to ensure that students are wearing their masks at all times when they leave their rooms,” said Ali Khamis. He said that one of his duties is to prevent having crowds in the dorm’s hall, kitchen, laundry, and the library.

Alia Eissa, one of the female housing resident assistants, said that all activities at the dorms had to be online to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease. “We had an online floor meeting last week, and we have a virtual movie night next week,” she said. 

There are plans to hold a “health and wellness day” in which students from the dorms can run together, Eissa said. However, some measures will be put in place during that event. “We will have to split this activity into several days to make sure that the groups are practicing social distancing and that all the precautions are taken seriously.”

“I prefer staying at the dorms during the extension of the online learning”, said Maab el Muzamil, a junior electrical engineering student at AUD whose parents live in Abu Dhabi. “I want to make sure that I do not get in contact with them in case I get the disease.” 

She regrets that “some students in the dorms do not take the precautions seriously”, as they do not wear their masks or sanitize frequently. “What really scares me at the dorms during this pandemic,” she said, “is using the kitchen” because of the shared equipment.

On the other hand, Kawthar Mustafa, a digital production and storytelling student, decided to stay with her family in Abu Dhabi. “I want my family to take care of me if I get the coronavirus.” 

Joy Abou Saleh, a Lebanese interior design student, shared her residency experience during the pandemic with the MBRSC Post.

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Maisa Eid

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