Quarantined Until Further Notice: A Photo Journalism Piece by a WORD Reporter Getting Ready for the Light at the end of the Tunnel

Another in a Series of Articles About Hunter Students Dealing with the Shutdown at Their Campus



I woke up at 9 a.m. the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, May 17, for my art class – ZOOMING in my bedroom. Hunter went remote after Governor Cuomo put New York State on PAUSE last year.

While I was eating breakfast — and, honestly, only half paying attention to class — I went to the New York State’s Covid Vaccine website to check if I could get an earlier appointment. I already had one but it was for the end of April and I was anxious to get the vaccine as soon as possible. So, I thought why not see if there are any new appointments available, and when I refreshed my page for the second time, multiple appointments appeared for vaccination sites that had just opened up on Long Island.

They were all quickly becoming unavailable, taken by other vaccine hopefuls, but I thankfully moved fast enough and got an appointment for that Sunday, March 21.

However, the appointment I managed to get was for a site all the way out east at Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus. I was so excited that I did not care that It was 65 miles away from my hometown of Hicksville.

That Sunday, I woke up early and got myself together and headed out the door at 10:30 a.m. My appointment was not until 12:45 p.m., but according to Google Maps it was going to take me an hour and a half to drive there.

Photos by Niamh McAuliffe

I arrived at the campus to be greeted with a large presence of the local police and the National Guard. Picture by Niamh McAuliffe

I went through several checkpoints till I was able to enter the site, the first at the entrance where I was asked by the National Guard to prove that I had an appointment. Once directed to drive through, I followed National Guard directions that were spread throughout the campus pointing where I needed to go and I eventually reached the parking lot. Picture by Picture by Niamh McAuliffe

I then put my two masks on and walked over to the site, which was actually a gymnasium. I was met by a person wearing an orange vest at the entrance where my temperature was taken and I was asked if I had tested positive for COVID recently, or, if I was in contact with anyone with COVID. Once I answered all of their questions, I walked in and was greeted by more people in orange vests and there were several more stations to go through. Picture by Niamh McAuliffe

Niamh McAuliffe and the Two Masks

The check in began at a large row of desks where I confirmed all of my medical information, then I followed up with a doctor for a medical evaluation and I was finally put into line to receive my vaccine. I was called over to the last station behind a partition where I excitedly chatted with the doctor and an assistant about the vaccine until all of a sudden it was time – and it was over in a flash.

A band-aid was placed on my left shoulder and I was given a sticker memorializing the moment. Picture by Niamh McAuliffe

Afterwards I made my way to one of the many black fold-able chairs and waited 15 minutes to make sure I felt alright. I was so happy at that moment. I texted all of my friends and family that I got it.  I was the first of everyone I knew to be vaccinated. Picture by Niamh McAuliffe

At the time, the vaccine was still restricted to a small group of people: The elderly and people with special conditions, like myself. Today, it is available to everyone in New York and is offered in pharmacies everywhere.

What’s Next

It is now late May as I am finishing up my assignment. A little less than two weeks ago Governor Cuomo announced that SUNY and CUNY will require vaccinations for all students attending in-person classes in the fall. [Chronicle of Higher Ed article about vaccinations whether we like them or not.] I was hoping this was coming because I will be a senior in the fall, and I want to finish my education in-person, the traditional way of an open campus that was the promise before the Pandemic unleashed havoc on America.

Hunter hasn’t decided, as I’m wrapping up this article, about how classes are to be taught in fall, 2021, nevertheless, I see this as the step in the right direction and a real sign that I and other students could be returning to what student life was like, or might have been like, before we ever heard of the Coronavirus.

View of the 68th Street Lexington Avenue stop of the Number 6 IRT Train. Picture taken from third-floor corridor. Stock photo.


Niamh McAuliffe can be reached at NIAMH.MCAULIFFE78@myhunter.cuny.edu