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‘An Eviction Notice’: Chaos After Colleges Tell Students to Stay Away

The day after colleges across the country suspended classes over fears of the coronavirus, Abigail Lockhart-Calpito, a freshman from San Antonio, ran across the Harvard campus trying to get answers.

全国大学院校因新冠病毒担忧停课的第二天,来自圣安东尼奥的大一学生阿比盖尔·洛哈特-卡皮托(Abigail Lockhart-Calpito)在哈佛校园里四处奔走寻找答案。

Her lectures were being replaced by online classes. Her residence hall was being cleared out. She, like thousands of others in her shoes, had a million questions: What was going to happen to her financial aid? Where would she stay? What about her credits?



The abrupt disruption of the semester caused widespread concern and a feeling of chaos on campuses across the country. Administrators saw spring break as a chance to reset the clock in the battle against the coronavirus. One after the other, like dominoes, they announced they were suspending classes and asking students to pack up and go.


Low-income students wondered whether they could afford to go home. International students had questions about their visas, which usually did not permit online learning. Graduate students worried about the effects on research projects years in the making.


Dance, theater and music students fretted that after months of rehearsals there would be no performances. Seniors were already mourning their commencement, assuming that it, too, would be canceled, and that the Class of 2020 might be together for the last time.


Some altruistically minded students worried about going home and perhaps unwittingly infecting their older and more vulnerable parents and grandparents should the virus already be present at their schools.


On Wednesday, the closures continued. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York declared that the state and city university systems would move to distance learning, as did the University of Pennsylvania, several California State campuses, the Claremont Colleges, Iowa State, Georgetown, Pepperdine, Villanova, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Washington University in St. Louis, among others.

星期三,更多学校关闭。纽约州州长安德鲁·M·科莫(Andrew M. Cuomo)宣布,所有州属、市属大学都改为远程教学。采取同样措施的,还有宾夕法尼亚大学、加利福尼亚州立大学的几所分校、克莱蒙特学院、爱荷华州立大学、乔治城大学、佩珀代因大学、维拉诺瓦大学、圣母大学、密歇根州立大学和圣路易斯华盛顿大学等等。

Infectious disease specialists said that dormitories, with their communal bathrooms as well as dining halls with open buffets, are like cruise ships, with students squeezed together and facing increased risk of infection. Emptying them out, if only partially, is necessary, they said.


Even those on the way to college in the fall felt the impact on Wednesday, as the SAT exam scheduled for Saturday was canceled in 18 countries and at more than 120 U.S. schools. In many cases, no alternative locations or makeup dates were offered.


Ms. Lockhart-Calpito, 19, is on full financial aid, which includes tuition, room and board. Her parents are self-employed, and she had scraped together airfare home for spring break by working two part-time jobs, as a tutor and as an usher and ticket seller. She is going to stay with a family friend instead of her parents, but she worries about wearing out her welcome.


When she moved into her dorm, she enjoyed the luxury of having her own room, she said, and her meals at school were covered.


Now though, she has found that the university so welcoming to students like her had not thought through the consequences of its decisions about the virus for those without means. It felt, she said, “like an eviction notice.”


“Harvard expects us to go home,” she said on Wednesday. “But home for a lot of us is this campus.”


As she went from office to office, officials told her apologetically that they had found out about the orders to shut down normal life on campus at the same time that she had, and so had few answers. Private charities and individuals were responding with offers to provide temporary lodging and financial help, she said.


Tabitha Escalante, 18, a freshman from Ohio, said the rushed order to depart had already been costly for her and her family. She had originally planned to fly home for spring break on Thursday but had to cancel her flight, forfeiting its $250 value, when she got the notification on Tuesday morning. There was no way she would be able to find storage for all her things in two days. The new plan, she said, was for her mother to take time off from her work as a waitress to drive the 11 hours to Cambridge, Mass., to get her and her belongings.

来自俄亥俄的18岁大一学生塔比瑟·艾斯卡兰特(Tabitha Escalante)说,离开学校的紧急命令已经给她和家人造成了一笔额外开销。她原计划周四搭飞机回家过春假,但周二收到通知后,不得不取消机票,并因此损失250美元。她根本不可能在两天内找到地方存放所有的个人物品。她说,目前的计划是她做服务员的妈妈请假,开11个小时车到马萨诸塞州的剑桥市来接她,并带走所有的东西。

“We’re living off her tips,” she said of her family. “It was a difficult decision, but honestly we weren’t really left with a choice.”


Harvard officials said they were swamped with requests for financial and logistical help and could not take time to talk in detail about the situation. They noted that Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts had declared a public health emergency on Tuesday, and said that the university had been forced to respond in kind. But they said that any students who were on financial aid and had a “demonstrated need” would be taken care of.

哈佛校方表示,他们现在被资金和后勤方面的协助要求淹没,没有时间深入谈论具体情况。他们提到,马萨诸塞州州长查理·贝克(Charlie Baker)在周二宣布了公共卫生紧急状态,学校也被迫要以类似的举措进行回应。但他们表示,他们会照顾那些依赖助学金并“经证明有需求”的学生。

By midday Wednesday, as the pressure built, the university had put out written guidelines for students who receive financial aid, offering to help cover the costs of storing and shipping their belongings. The university said it was stationing staff in dining halls to help with travel booking, and that the amount of financial aid that students were receiving would determine how much of their travel costs Harvard would cover.


More than a thousand miles away, at Iowa State University, Alex Stein, a 19-year-old sophomore, was astonished and a little freaked out when the teachers and teaching assistants all wore gloves as they handed out a test on Tuesday night in his mechanics of fluids class. “They were scared of getting it while passing out the exams,” he said.

在超过一千英里之外的爱荷华州立大学,周二晚上的流体力学课上,19岁的大二学生埃里克斯·斯坦(Alex Stein)看到老师和助教戴着手套分发试卷,顿时大为惊恐。“他们害怕发卷子的时候被传染,”他说。

A friend sent him a video of a lecture in which the professor was wearing purple surgical gloves and spraying down the table with a bottle of bleach.


“I’m not scared of getting sick because I know it’s not going to kill me,” Mr. Stein, a civil engineering major, said. “But I’m scared that I might spread it to my grandparents and my parents, and they might have a tougher time of it.”


He is not looking forward to online classes because of his previous experience with virtual physics and calculus courses. They were easier than live classes, he said, and as a result, he did not learn as much.


The closures also presented challenges for foreign students enrolled at American universities on F visas. They are permitted to take only one course online per term to remain legally in the country; students on M visas for vocational training are normally not allowed to take any classes online.


“I do not exactly understand how this affects my visa status since we need to be enrolled in classes physically,” said Aditya Jain, 21, a senior at Northeastern University who is spending his semester at the school’s San Francisco branch, where most classes have moved online.

“我不太明白这对我们的签证状态来说意味着什么,因为我们必须选上实体课,”21岁的东北大学大四学生阿迪蒂亚·贾恩(Aditya Jain)说。他这学期在学校的旧金山分校学习,而旧金山绝大部分课程都改为在线教授。

“My friends are definitely very anxious about the whole situation,” he said.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday issued guidance, saying that it would be “flexible with temporary adaptations” for international students as universities adjust to the crisis.


Carissa Cutrell, an agency spokeswoman, said the goal was to ensure that students were “able to continue to make normal progress in a full course of study as required by federal regulations.”

执法局发言人卡丽莎·卡瑞尔(Carissa Cutrell)说,目的是要确保学生“能够保持正常的学习进度,以完成联邦法规所要求的全部课程”。

In rare cases, some students will remain on campus even as the rest of their classmates are forced to evacuate. In its announcement on Wednesday that classes were being moved online and spring break extended by a week, the University of Pennsylvania said medical and nursing students would continue their clinical rotations.


Megan Lobo, 18, a freshman at New York University, had her first two online classes on Wednesday, and will soon be moving home to Leonia, N.J. Her two-and-a-half-hour music class, she said, was not conducive to online learning. They used Zoom, the video application.

纽约大学18岁的大一学生梅根·洛博(Megan Lobo)在周三上了头两节网课,很快将搬回新泽西利奥尼亚市的家中。她说有一节两个半小时的音乐课并不适合在线学习。他们用了视频应用Zoom。

“A lot of the relationships that you form in college are just kind of being around each other,” she said. “Especially for music — meeting people and networking. A lot of people I’ve met in the hallway or in class. Losing those small things can be a setback.”


Juan Diego Jaramillo, a senior at Columbia, was bracing for his long-awaited commencement to be canceled because of the danger that the virus would spread through the assembled families. “We’d rather they just pull the Band-Aid off” and deliver the bad news now, he said.

哥伦比亚大学的大四学生胡安·迭戈·哈拉米约(Juan Diego Jaramillo)正在为取消毕业典礼做准备,他一直在等待这一消息,因为典礼上家庭聚集,有传播病毒的危险。“我们宁愿他们直接把创可贴撕了,”现在就宣布坏消息,他说。

Spring break starts next week for Columbia students, and in the meantime, the campus feels surreal, Mr. Jaramillo, 22, said. “Monday was a beautiful day and class was canceled because of the virus,” he said. “But the whole quad was full, as full as you’d expect on a spring concert weekend. Everybody was out and enjoying the day off.”

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