HUNTINGTON — They should have been packing up a week’s worth of clothes on their way to spring break. But on Sunday, Marshall University students packed up their dorm rooms for good — heading home to finish the year on their laptops.
Tatiana Schrader, of Huntington, said she wished she could have stayed in the residence hall longer.
“I understand why they did it. I think a lot of people were upset just because everyone is being displaced, but at the same time, for public health reasons, this is probably the best move,” she said. “I think that while it’s not ideal that it happened this way, in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably the best.”
Like schools all over the country — both K-12 and higher ed alike — Marshall has canceled all face-to-face classes for the remainder of the year amid the COVD-19 pandemic. Beginning Monday, March 30, students will take their classes through various methods online.
Graduation ceremonies have been postponed.
While the dorms remain open to those who could not return home, such as international students or those who live with a high-risk loved one, most students had to pack up all their things and move out. Those who had already left campus before the Thursday announcement were not permitted to return to get their things until they receive specific instructions from the university.
About 200 students moved out Monday using a controlled process to maintain social distancing standards, a university spokesperson said. About 200 students remained in the dorms, with about 165 requesting to stay. The current plan is to keep the students in one building, though that may change.
Andy Prostor, of Cleveland, Ohio, said he understood the public health concern.
“You don’t want everybody in the same space sharing the same air in the dorms, having everybody together in the same spot is a health concern,” he said. “I’m an RA in Wellman (Hall) here, and I think about my residents on my floor, and I worry about their safety and well being.”
The university is working on a plan to credit students in the residence halls and those with meal plans, pending approval from the Board of Governors. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is April 23.
Marshall Health has set up a dedicated phone line at 304-696-2900 for the general public, particularly for patients who think they may have been exposed to the virus. The line is staffed by healthcare professionals from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.