What the Hell is a “Soft Quarantine”?

September 22, 2021

I am currently in a Millikin-mandated soft quarantine. You’re probably wondering exactly what I was wondering Monday morning when I got the contact tracing call: What the hell is a “soft quarantine?”

Well, I am here to tell you what it means to be in soft quarantine. 

On Monday morning, a person I have been in close contact with tested positive for COVID-19. In the typical order of events, I was then contact traced by the University. I have never been contact-traced before, so this was all new to me.

First, the person on the phone asked me if I knew the person had tested positive. I said that I did. Then the person said they knew per Millikin records that I was vaccinated, which I confirmed again. They said that although I was in contact with someone who tested positive, I was vaccinated, so I only had to soft quarantine rather than doing the full-fledged isolation quarantine.

They then began to explain to me what this meant.

I can still attend class, but I need to wear my mask at all times. Which I already do, so this seemed redundant. I can remain in my campus housing, but I should avoid people at all costs. They said I shouldn’t hang out on campus or associate with anyone who wasn’t also contact traced. That part made sense to me.

I was also advised not to attend work, whether off or on campus, which seems counterproductive as I am still allowed to attend class—all of which I do mask regularly.

I was instructed to get tested on Wednesday at Millikin’s SHIELD testing site (again, this was on Monday that I received this call). Why specifically Wednesday? I’m not sure. All I know is that they were adamant about Wednesday.

If my test comes back negative on Wednesday (fingers crossed), then my soft quarantine is over, and I can return to living like normal.

However, if my test comes back positive, that is a whole different story. If that were to happen, then I would have to go into complete isolation quarantine. 

I won’t lie, soft quarantine has caused some problems for me (besides making me stir-crazy). Many people I live with think I should have been sent home completely and are afraid that they could contract COVID-19 from me.

I understand these concerns, and they worry me too. I had almost assumed that I would be sent home, and I was ready to do that, but Millikin said I could stay on campus. I would have had no issues with going home, but I obviously don’t want to miss class if I don’t have to.

Regardless of all this, I will be following all proper procedures and hopefully be out of soft quarantine come Wednesday evening.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this, it is that even soft quarantine can be bad for your mental health at times. So, check-in on your friends in both complete and partial isolation because we’re going a bit mad shut in our rooms.


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