MacIntosh dorm becomes an isolation space


Photo by Rachel Johns

A look at MacIntosh dorm, which is being used as a COVID-19 isolation unit this year.

Rachel Johns, Managing Editor of News

2020 has been a year of major changes to say the least. For the former residents of MacIntosh Cottage, another bombshell was dropped on themtheir dorm was going to become a place for students with COVID-19 to quarantine. 

Lake Forest Academy’s Reopening Strategy detailed that boarding students who test positive for COVID-19 and cannot return home must quarantine in MacIntosh for a minimum of two weeks. Thus, the dorm was shut down for regular use, and the residents of MacIntosh had to be relocated.

“We realized we needed an isolation space on campus for any students that tested positive for COVID-19,” said Jon Freeman, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life. “That space had to be a residential space with a bathroom and multiple facilities. There was no other place on campus that we could easily convert into that kind of space. Not having a full boarding program this year made it an easy decision to move the Mac boarders into other dorms and convert Mac into an isolation space.”

Before preseason, the residents of MacIntosh were emailed by their dorm head, Erica Wood, who informed them of the school’s decision to close MacIntosh. To compensate for the sudden loss of their dorm, the girls were allowed to choose which dorm they wanted to move to.

Of the eight returning students from MacIntosh dorm, two girls were relocated to Marshall Field Dormitory, while the other remaining students were moved to Ferry Hall. This was not just a simple change of rooms for the residents; it was a loss of their home, culture, and community. Students in MacIntosh, or Mac as it’s often called, are known for being close-knit due to the small size of the dorm. 

Being put into larger dorms has come as a major change for the residents of Mac. Eden Kalaj-Rice, a senior from Mac, was saddened by the decisions and unsure if she’d be able to retain her position of proctor with the switch to Ferry Hall, which she was ultimately able to do. 

“As a senior and a proctor, the closure of Mac was really unfortunate. There were a lot of questions I had. I had to adapt to a new environment and dynamic between dormmates,” Kalaj-Rice said.

Miranda Hernandez, a sophomore from Mac who moved to Field, echoed similar sentiments saying, “I really do miss my other dorm parents that didn’t switch over, as well as the cottage like environment. Since the dorm was so small, we were able to do activities that other dorms couldn’t, like trips to McDonald’s.”

Despite the loss of their dorm, the Mac girls are staying positive and have had positive experiences in their new dorms. They report the dorm faculty and residents are being “accommodating” and “kind.” In addition to the pleasant interpersonal experiences, the girls enjoy having new amenities in the other dorms, such as multiple washing machines, toasters, and air conditioners.

“As much as I miss Mac, Field has been such a great experience. And I’m happy that students will be safer, even if it means I have to give up Mac for some time. Field has definitely become my new home, and I’m excited for the rest of the year,” Hernandez said. 

I hope by the end year that we can go back to Mac or that Mac can do some events together. I miss everyone, and I miss the community. I understand why [this happened] and I think it was one of the better decisions the school could have made,” Kalaj-Rice concluded.

While Mac is not reopening this semester, Freeman was supportive of having Mac only events for the residents to reconnect. He said “I am more than open to that. If the Mac girls want to reunite to do a Mac-only event, that is something we would absolutely support.”