Tritons’ Encounter with Covid-19


Autumn Mayer & Sophia Schauer, Staff Writers, Journalism

Adviser’s Note:  Added to this story is the COVID-19 experience of Ms. Ciera Gerl, who works in Student Services.

For 10 days the pandemic denied visitors the always friendly, always helpful atrium receptionist Cathy Kirschling.

Mrs. Kirschling first showed symptoms on Tuesday, September 15, starting with a cough that got worse over the course of the day. 

She was incredibly tired when she got home, and her temperature was 99.6 degrees. 

She began experiencing body aches and had a severe headache and no appetite. 

Her temperature kept increasing and stayed at 100.4 degrees for several days.

It took a lot of effort for her to take a shower and go up or down stairs. 

All she could do was sleep.

She lost her sense of taste and smell around the seventh day. 

“It’s terrible not being able to smell anything or taste your food,” Mrs. Kirschling said. “I felt like I was just putting food in my mouth and with no taste, I started feeling like, why bother eating? I was able to cut up a very large onion without shedding a tear!”

Mrs. Kirschling worried about her family while she was sick. 

She helps take care of her elderly parents, and her husband is in the high-risk category. 

She believes she contracted COVID-19 from her husband, and he did eventually test positive, although he never experienced the same extreme symptoms she did. 

Her grandson also has underlying conditions, and since they were together two days before she got sick, she was worried about him, but he never showed any symptoms. 

Mrs. Kirschling’s position at Notre Dame can be very vulnerable, but she knows to keep her distance, and the contact she has with guests is very short and safe.  

She believes the Administration and the Envisioning the Future Committee have taken excellent measures in keeping all faculty, staff and students safe. 

However, in the future she will be keeping her glass door shut and allowing very few co-workers in the atrium area.  

Mrs. Kirschling was off work for 10 days and returned on Wednesday, September 30.

Another staff member who contracted COVID-19 is Ms. Ciera Gerl in Student Services.  

She too stressed how seriously everyone should take the virus.

“I want people to know that COVID is a very serious thing and should not be taken lightly. When I was sick and isolated, my grandpa and uncle died. I was not able to attend funerals or be with my family because I had the virus,” she said. 

Gerl started to have symptoms on Monday night, September 14. 

“When I woke up the next morning, I felt very sick. My gut feeling that morning was that I had COVID because I woke up with a weird smell in my nose and couldn’t smell anything else. I was feeling pretty much back to normal about a week later,” she explained.

Like Kirschling, she can not be certain where or how she contracted the virus. 

“When I went out in public,” she said,  “I would always wear a mask and stay as far away from other people as possible. I would only go to the store when I needed to and would order takeout from restaurants whenever I was able to. I would only see a small group of family and friends to make sure I limited my contact with other people.” 

Now back at school, she said that despite being told she had immunity for 90 days, “I will still wear a mask, keep my distance from others and avoid large gatherings just to be a role model for others.”