Updated: Mar 15
by Gabriele Eubanks
Rochester University’s COVID Care Coordinator Nicholas Leedy does so much more than make sure students do their health screenings, take temperatures and pass out wristbands.
Leedy joined the campus community in August 2020, when he was hired to help students and the campus community with its COVID-19 policies.
Leedy is in charge of monitoring and organizing all of the health screening stations across campus as well as hiring the screeners themselves. He also monitors cases of COVID, updates policies to stay in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and does contact tracing of the cases to ensure minimal chances for an outbreak on campus.
Previously employed as a resident director at Geneva College in Pennsylvania, Leedy came to RU with a significant amount of experience dealing with students. “I was looking for someone who was organized and could have some tough conversations with students in regards to quarantine,” said Dean of Students Sharia Hayes. “With all of the balls we’ve thrown at him along with the state, he has done very well in making adjustments and plans of action to accommodate the situations we’re living in.”
Though Leedy’s week can seem like a normal 40-hour-work week, he often spends hours on end answering emails, making phone calls and checking up on policies to make sure RU’s policies are up to date with the latest guidance.
Leedy said his most time-consuming task is contact tracing, which is trying to find all of the people possibly exposed to the virus and making phone calls to confirm. He said the longest tracing he’s done took him six to eight hours to find all of the close contacts and to make sure they were all contacted about their exposure.
Working with students is the least concerning part of the ordeal, Leedy said, because he understands the frustration of the situations the students are in. “The biggest challenge is just communication about the virus and why or how to quarantine,” he said.
Though Leedy said he has not yet had a case where a student refuses to quarantine, he said students still experience some confusion about why and how to quarantine.
Paige Steel, a junior interdisciplinary studies major who had been affected by COVID, said “Nick is a genuine person who is not only a leader but a friend in tough times such as these. Not only has he been there for me as I've navigated two quarantines, he has also been there to help others navigate the struggles of Covid-19 during these tough times.”
Although he has to work with people in what can be a trying time, Leedy said he truly enjoys it. “Getting to be a positive voice in a tough situation is really what I enjoy about my job,” he said. “Even though they’re going through a difficult time, I help them through it and get to help make the situation as tolerable as I can.”
Leedy said the relationships he builds with students are his favorite part of the job. When students visit him on campus and have meaningful conversations with him, he said it makes his day. “I even have people refer to me as the ‘Quarantine Queen,’ which is pretty funny,” he said.
Even though the position Leedy holds is not expected to be a lasting one in the hopes of the pandemic eventually coming to an end, he hopes to stay at RU in some capacity if he is able. “Even if I am unable to return, I understand and value the time I have and will enjoy it to the best of my ability until it comes to an end,” he said.