Let’s face it, when most of us left State College on March 6, the coronavirus was not the pandemic that is right now. It’s safe to say most of us assumed that we’d return as normal on March 15 to campus, or at worst, be stuck at home for two extra weeks or so. But that’s not what happened.
Now, we’re at the end of the school year. Classes have started to wrap up and it’s (online) finals season. Normally around this time, parents would be making the trip to State College to help students move out, and for students who live on campus, they’d say goodbye to the small shoebox of a room that was home for the past year.
Those same shoeboxes now sit abandoned, filled with students’ belongings, and Penn State has not yet established a plan of how to bring students to campus to retrieve their items and clear out the rooms.
In a statement released on April 21, Penn State Housing said it did not yet have a plan for students to get their things, because of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order, which is in effect until at least May 8. While this is understandable given the guidelines from the state and health officials, students are getting frustrated.
At the end of spring break, there was a period of a few days where students could grab textbooks or other items they needed for the remote learning period, but that was announced suddenly in the middle of break when many students were either at home or on vacation.
For students hundreds of miles away from Happy Valley, like freshman Gia Benckert, the current situation is frustrating, yet understandable. Benckert lives in Central Florida, nearly a 16-hour drive from University Park.
“I only planned to be home for a week, and because I live so far away, I can’t just drive up for a weekend if we were allowed to get things,” Benckert says. “At the same time, it’s not really worth stressing over, it’s just kind of confusing.”
Penn State has cancelled all in-person classes through the summer as of now, but has said if the virus situation permits, they may allow Summer Session II classes to resume on campus. In this case, students would likely have to vacate the dorms before late June.
There is no word yet on if the Fall 2020 semester will be impacted by COVID-19.