Extended break leaves students in the dark

Carly Davis

Augustana students received an email announcing that spring break was to start a week early on Friday, March 13. Students were asked to move out of residence halls and TLAs after their Friday classes by Saturday, March 14. International students, students that live over 400 miles away and others on a case-by-case basis were allowed to stay.
“This is kind of unfair to students who don’t know where they’re going to go or don’t know how they’re going to get home if they don’t have cars on campus or can’t afford bus tickets,” first-year Bella Gmitrovic said. 
Other students communicated with their parents to come and pick them up.
“It’s inconvenient,” first-year Gianna DeLeo said, “I feel like it’s difficult for parents to accommodate when they thought they had a week more and now they don’t.”
Not all students were upset with the decision, however.
First-year Jacqueline Isaacson lives in an off-campus apartment and commutes to Augustana. 
“I’m happy that they decided to take the time off, but I feel bad for all my friends that are getting kicked out of the dorms. I’m really lucky and grateful to have my own apartment, but I’m upset by the whole situation,” Isaacson said. 
Many students have cars on campus or made plans to be driven back to their parents’ houses. However, others have to rely on their fellow students for housing over the break.
First-year Saisha Bhandari is from Nepal, where international travel is restricted. 
“After I got the email, I wanted to go back home, but they would not let me back [to Augustana]  again,” Bhandari said. “And my dad was planning to cancel my summer ticket because of coronavirus.” 
Many international students, like Bhandari, had to secure housing through the school or with friends.
“I’m going home with my roommate,” Bhandari added. “I’m very lucky.”
Domestic students who were not able to be driven from campus had to rely on the bus system and other public transit, putting them at risk of contracting and spreading the disease.
Other students were upset to leave Augustana and return home.
“All my friends are at Augustana, so going back home has been really hard,” junior Abby Wierza said. “Now that there’s an extension on the break, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.”
According to the original email from President Bahls, Augustana currently plans to resume in-person classes on March 30. However, the email requested that students take their school materials home in case classes go online after spring break, causing concern.
“Our teachers don’t really know how to work online,” DeLeo said, “so it’s either going to make my grade awesome or make my grade terrible.”
Many professors had to adapt their classes to Moodle, Google Hangouts or informal emails to cover what they had planned before the scheduled break.
“In my education and English classes, it’s hands-on and discussion-based learning. You can’t just substitute that with online questionnaires,” sophomore Jacob Emrich-Muise said. “As a future educator, this is freaking me out.”