College Students Deal With Campus Shutdowns Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Not only are students being forced to adjust to virtual learning, they're also leaving behind friendships and a sense of independence.

By Allison Forsyth March 30, 2020

Rachel Silverman

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, college campuses nationwide have shut down nationwide, prompting students to move back home. Instead of canceling classes, many schools have turned to virtual learning to help students finish out their spring semester, and hopefully maintain some sort of routine. Not only are students adjusting to a new learning style, but also to returning home early and leaving friendships and a sense of independence behind.

"I have taken multiple online classes in the past, but this is different," says Megan Peters, a first-year biology major at Florida State University. She has returned to her Sarasota home, and began online classes last Monday, March 23, just days after spring break ended. "Professors have been using video conferencing to teach material, and taking tests and quizzes online is definitely an adjustment." 

Peters says professors have been accommodating and understanding, especially since students had to leave on such short notice. "Basically, our university told us to pack clothes for three or more weeks after spring break," says Peters. "We are still waiting to hear about returning to get the rest of our belongings from the dorm, but I'm just trying to stay patient." She says being back at home feels weird, especially since she can't see her college friends or spend time on campus.

Sarasota native Rachel Silverman is a second-year business major at Northeastern University in Boston. When she heard the news that campus would shut down, she returned home and has been self-quarantined for nearly two weeks. "Online learning takes a lot more motivation and independence compared to in-person classes," says Silverman. "But my professors and internship have made the transition smooth by turning to video conferencing."

Several universities in northern states closed down a week earlier than Northeastern, but Silverman says Northeastern staff were holding out hope a total shutdown wouldn't be necessary. The school practiced social distancing and improved sanitation, but it was only a matter of time before the closure arrived. "I was planning on staying in my dorm for spring and summer semesters," Silverman says, "but I'm happy to be with my family during these times."

News of campus shutdowns is also disappointing to those about to graduate. Graduation ceremonies have been canceled and postponed for the safety of attendees. "Graduates deserve to be celebrated, and my heart goes out to them during this time," says Peters. "It is better to be safe."

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