As cases of the novel coronavirus increase by the day, 5,438 University of Colorado Boulder campus residents—about 66% of those living in an on-campus facility—have left as of Tuesday according to university spokesperson Deborah Mendez-Wilson.
Still, several hundred students have asked to stay, according to Mendez-Wilson, who said the university will allow residence halls to remain open for “as long as they are needed.”
“COVID-19 has presented our campus and others with scenarios that are evolving quickly, and we cannot predict what might happen over the coming months,” she said in an email. “Of course, students are a high priority for us, and we will do all we can to continue to meet their needs.”
Those remaining include staff and international students who cannot return home due to travel restrictions. Other students who chose to stay include students who may have immunocompromised family members, according to Mendez-Wilson.
“It’s kind of eerie in here because it’s so empty,” said Lily Ezrow, a freshman who hails from New York City, which has become the pandemic’s epicenter in the United States. Ezrow said she has several family members who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus and is not going back home out of caution.
With only three people left on her floor in the Smith residence hall, Ezrow said her hallway is only “dead silence.” Still, she’s keeping herself occupied, using Zoom to teach yoga classes and hiking in Chautauqua to avoid groups of people.
But Ezrow worries some people her age are still not taking COVID-19 seriously.
“Just because we may not die from it you can still pass it on to someone else,” she said.
Nikolas Shull, a freshman living in Kittredge West, said he is unable to go home because one of his foster parents has an autoimmune disease. He said he’s now the only one left on his floor and one of the few left in the dorm.
“It’s definitely very lonely, but I know it’s probably safer,” he said. “You walk down the hall, you don’t hear people playing music and you don’t hear people talking.”
Shull is employed at the Volunteer Resource Center and now works remotely from his dorm room. He said he is thankful the center has been able to keep people’s jobs.
“It’s something that a lot of us rely on,” he said.
Between classwork and keeping in contact with friends, Shull said he isn’t too afraid about being alone for possibly months.
“You start to get used to it. It was worse in the beginning with a lot of anxiety,” he said.
For those who have left or are planning to leave their on-campus residence, the university is offering credit of 100% of students’ remaining room and board that will appear on their account next term, minus outstanding charges and students’ $300 housing deposit.
The university has said that any items left in a resident’s room will mean the room is deemed still occupied and will not be eligible for credit until all items are removed. Those who moved out of their residence before Chancellor Philip DiStefano’s announcement for students to leave if possible will still be eligible for credit.
For more information on housing, go to the university’s website here.
Contact CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Robert Tann at firstname.lastname@example.org.