For students, having to go into isolation (for a positive COVID-19 test) or quarantine (for potential infection) is not part of their college plans. But SUNY Oswego’s Quarantine and Isolation Buddy program, aimed at facilitating caring interactions with students who are isolated from everyone due to the virus, tries to make a difficult situation a little better.

“We know isolation and quarantine can be lonely and we wanted to provide a program that would support students during this difficult time,” said SUNY Oswego Interim Dean of Students Christy Huynh. “Over 80 faculty and staff stepped up to be volunteers and were eager to do what they could to share some encouragement and support.”

Broadcasting major Alison Rushanova experienced the program when she had to go into quarantine in Funnelle Hall. While her fever and other symptoms ultimately were diagnosed to be not related to COVID, a few days in quarantine nonetheless felt isolating.

When offered the opportunity to take part in the program, Rushanova was happy to have another person, in addition to her friends, to connect with.

“Taeko texted me the day I signed up for it,” Rushanova said of Taeko Kelly, a Career Services career coach for business who was among the first to sign up for the program. “Connecting somebody you didn’t know before to share your feelings when you can’t go anywhere is the best part of the buddy system.”

“I really like connecting with students on any level,” Kelly said of why volunteered. “No one wants to feel isolated, so I felt inclined to help.”

 “We texted back and forth every day, and it was really helpful,” Rushanova said. “It was really good. Taeko was just so nice and sweet.”

For her part, Kelly didn’t know what to expect going in, but was happy to be part of the program.

“She said she was grateful to have someone to talk to and I enjoyed getting to know her,” Kelly said. “I would say if anybody is interested in volunteering, they should consider it. The students you'll be contacting have all opted into the program, so they would love to hear from you."

Volunteers and students are given options of connecting by calling, texting or emailing.

Students interested in taking part in this program can fill out a form to be matched with a buddy.

Employees interested in volunteering to be a Quarantine and Isolation Buddy can complete this online interest form.