CHICAGO (CBS) — A college student from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says he was evicted from his dorm and fired from his job as a resident assistant when he refused to quarantine. He tells CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar he has never tested positive for COVID-19, and this is all a mistake.
“I’m being penalized,” said Xavier Josephs. “I lost my RA position. I was fired yesterday immediately.”
Josephs is a student, but he is being removed from the dorms and could be dismissed from the school.
“I pose no health risk to any student,” he said.
Jospehs was notified by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District that he was recently in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That person’s identity was not revealed to Jospehs due to HIPAA.
“When CUPHD contacts someone to instruct that person to quarantine, it isn’t based on what that person did on a single date. Contact tracing covers the infected person’s activities over a period of days, and the person who is instructed to quarantine is not told who was the source or where that contact happened,” said Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The school told Josephs in an email, “We are required to put you in a quarantine dorm.”
“It is important to note that CUPHD has instructed us that students in isolation must stay there for ten days, and students in quarantine must stay there for 14 days. It is not possible to “test out” of quarantine, and except on Day 5 when CUPHD instructs those in quarantine to test (so if they have developed the virus at that point, they can be moved to isolation and away from those in quarantine), people are not supposed to leave their quarantine space at all, said Kaler.
“I have remote classes, and I don’t see many people. It’s easy to narrow down who I see and when I see them,” he said.
Josephs disputes that he was ever in contact with a COVID-positive patient, despite the health department’s claims. COVID-19 tests he shared with CBS 2 show negative results.
“When CUPHD alerts University Housing of a student who is supposed to quarantine, that student is instructed to move temporarily to a quarantine space, which is not the same space where students who have tested positive go,” said Kaler.
Jospehs has refused to go into one of the designated quarantine dorms in fear of possible exposure to others also quarantining.
“That would essentially put my health at risk,” Josephs said. “I feel like they are trying to make an example out of me and my situation.”
The assistant dean wrote the following note to Josephs: “You received directions from the campus and the health department for which you are not authorized to deviate from … This is a dismissible offense from the university.”
The university says COVID-positive students are housed in a different area.
“To me that seemed like the goal, that they are trying to give me the ultimate discipline to dismiss me from this institution,” Josephs said. “I’m being disciplinarily charged for putting peoples health at danger, but nobody’s health is at danger.”
The university says the vast majority of students follow quarantine and isolation instructions, but 16 students have been dismissed for not complying.