Students Forced to Vacate Campus Amidst Pandemic

: Spring Hill College's campus during the Spring semester of 2018
Spring Hill College's campus during the Spring semester of 2018

Spring Hill College shuts down its campus and forces students to evacuate the premises in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving students confused, upset and stressed about living situations.

The entire world is facing serious times as the Coronavirus outbreak continues to take countless lives. As soon as the virus started to reach the States, schools all over the nation knew that the only way to protect its students was to instruct them to stay home. Mar. 13, Spring Hill College’s President Lee sent out a campus-wide email to inform everyone that Spring Hill College would be closing down the campus. His email reads, “With the well being of our entire campus community at heart, the College administration has decided to suspend on-campus classes as of the end of today..”

The entire campus was given a 72-hour window to pack up their belongings, say bye to friends and classmates, and travel home to practice social distancing. It has been proven, through past pandemics, that if people take the necessary precautions of distancing themselves during an airborne outbreak like this, the number of people getting infected with the virus will hopefully decrease. Spring Hill has taken a new approach to the expansion of learning and has transitioned each course online.

Due to the need to get students off of campus so quickly, Spring Hill College granted its students a two-week long spring break vacation. Students were advised to stay home and practice social distancing over the break, with hopes of returning to campus on April 14 to resume classes and finish the semester strong with exams, and finally graduation. However, another hard but necessary decision was made by the institution to continue remote learning through the end of May. 

A few students may have been happy to hear that classes would no longer be taking place on campus, however, a majority of the campus is sad to have had to put an abrupt end on their academic school year. Senior Resident Advisor of New Hall, Jake Germek said, “When the announcement was made that Friday, I was kind of overwhelmed just like almost everyone else on campus. I knew that my job at the time was to get people out as safely and quickly possible. Me and my amazing team of RAs were dismissed to go home Monday morning around 10:00 p.m. So, I started packing early Monday morning and left campus to head home to Birmingham around noon.  For residents who were not able to go home, the cafeteria was staying open for those residents and there was a group of RAs that stayed back to help with any problems that might pop up for those residents staying on campus.”

For other students, the journey home was much further which, in turn, increased anxieties and risk. Sophomore Luca Carrese is from Portugal, and his travel home was completely different. He said, “When I heard this news that we were being sent home, I began to panic a bit. At the time when it all started, Europe was doing way worse than America, so I didn’t want to go back to a place where I’d be more likely to get the virus. Luckily, Spring Hill let us stay here on campus until things figured themselves out. After a while, things started to get worse here, and school was announced closed for the rest of the semester. When we heard that news, all of us internationals decided to go home. I believe the hardest part was definitely going through the airports.”

Students had projected to be able to come back to campus to finish out the semester as well as to retrieve the rest of their belongings. With states having strict curfews and lockdowns, students have to figure out a new solution. Senior Kayla Dumas said, “I had high hopes of traveling home because I really thought we were going to get a chance to come back in April. I’m actually going to move my stuff out tomorrow, and I’ve honestly been preparing for it all week. I’m not ready to leave The Hill because there was so much that was planned, so much I felt I needed to do before I left the campus. I know I’m going to be very emotional the whole day, especially because I’m still going to be leaving without saying proper goodbyes to the people who have made my four years the best of my life.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember to keep faith, hope and happiness alive. The world must do its part of practicing social distancing and proper sanitation habits. During this difficult time it is easy to turn to despair. However, I encourage all to keep up the hard work, keep up a strong mindset and to keep themselves and each other safe. 

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