It doesn’t matter where you go; you can’t stay here

The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic has caused many schools and colleges around the country to shut down to help enforce social distancing. While Park University has made the decision to transfer all face to face classes online, it has not yet required all students to move out of the dormitories.

“With the current message sent out by the university, students are encouraged to move out and stay elsewhere to help with social distancing, however the residence halls remain open for students needing to stay,” said Tonya Wessel, director of residence life in an email interview.

This transition came abruptly as the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kansas City area has increased. The decision to allow students to move off campus and switch to online classes was announced on Thursday, March 12 from President Greg Gunderson.

Many students made the decision to move off campus the last few days of spring break including sophomore Bailey Turner.

“I decided to leave because with transitioning into online, there was no purpose of me staying on campus, especially with spring sports being canceled,” she said in an email interview. The mass communication major runs for Park’s track and field team, which would usually have its outdoor season at this time.

Online classes allow for students to work remotely from anywhere, which was a big factor in determining if they would stay or leave.

Turner said she also wanted the opportunity to be able to work and make more money. This has become a challenge as many jobs are being forced to shut down with new stay-at-home orders.

Sophomore english major Mariah Moe said, “I moved off campus because everyone else was, and they are also offering refunds which was a big push as well.”

Park is offering the money students spent on housing to be added back to the students’ accounts to help with any current balances they might have, according to an email sent out Sunday, March 15 from Wessel.

Moe was planning on staying in the dorms at first, however, the loneliness and isolation was a tough adjustment on campus, she said.

She made the decision to leave campus shortly after the start of online classes.

Currently, students who have been approved for a hardship by residence life will be able to stay on campus. However, they must comply with the new, temporary residence life policies and consolidate into Copley Quad starting Monday, March 23.

These new policies include no guests, no leaving campus unless approved, compliance with possible curfew guidelines and more.

Students who were not approved had to leave campus by Tuesday, March 25 in compliance with the local government’s stay-at-home order. If they couldn’t clear out their items by then, they should email residence life after April 23 to coordinate a time to return for their belongings.