Southfield, Michigan college and high school students voice challenges

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Florida A&M University student Kalin Newsom, like thousands of students throughout the country, found herself home weeks before expected because of COVID-19. Her trek home though meant traveling 900 miles to get back home, Southfield, Michigan. 

In the meantime, parents and high school students in the city stay optimistic as they adjust to the state’s mandates.

For Newsom, FAMU decided to move classes online while the school was on spring break, encouraging students to stay home with their families after break rather than come back to campus to be alone in their apartment. The university, she said, is keeping its residence halls open.

“I do feel like they are great with supporting the students that live on campus by not forcing them out of dorms like other universities,” Newsom said.

Dedra Hobbs, the parent of a Spelman College student, wanted the university to ensure her daughter’s safety as her child was coming home to Michigan from Georgia, which is more than 600 miles away.

“I was happy that my kid could come home,” said Hobbs over the phone. “However, I was concerned with the short timeframe allowed for packing up her dorm. As a parent, you want your kids at home so you can be sure they are safe.”

Email sent to HooSang from Grand Valley State University about housing and moving out because of the coronavirus.

Impact on college students in Michigan 

Closer to home, Tracy HooSang, 19, a Grand Valley State University student, only had four days to leave campus after her university decided to close on March 11

“I felt rushed,” said HooSang. “And I had to do a lot of packing; I was not expecting them to ask us to leave campus.”

HooSang’s roommate who lives out of state. HooSang said she didn’t leave until the last minute because it was hard for her family to come and pick her up.

Elise Butler, a junior at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor said via phone that UM decided to close the campus while students were on spring break: “I think U of M could’ve honestly just taken action at that point knowing that TONS of students travel all across the globe during break. It would’ve been a good proactive measure but I understand since there was no federal action at that point, they probably couldn’t have done much.”

 Rumors about possible COVID-19 cases on UM Ann Arbor’s campus began to scare students as they learned more information about the virus, Butler said. Other students even began to panic as they were uncertain if they were going to be kicked off campus with nowhere to go.

Impact on High School Students 

University High School Academy 11 grade student Alexcia Slappy said the adjustment has not been that hard. But she has had a hard time adjusting to social distancing.

“I don’t like the fact that now I can’t leave,” said Slappy. “Because I am someone who needs to see different scenery. I don’t like having to stay in the house because it isn’t good for my mental health.”

Because high schools are closed there is a lot of extra free time. Slappy is trying to spend time productively by doing work, sleeping and FaceTiming different friends.

M’Kenna Albert, University High School Academy senior, required to stay home after being affected by COVID-19. Credit: Morgan Albert.

M’Kenna Albert, 12th grade student at University High School Academy, is having a hard time being productive during the day to complete her work due to COVID-19 forcing her to stay at home for three weeks. 

“I am trying to stay positive about being home for three weeks,” said via over the phone by Albert. “But it is hard to discipline myself to use this time constructively each day.”

As a senior, Albert was looking forward to  closing out her last year of high school. She is upset about the decisions made, but she is remaining positive.

Albert said: “I looked forward to our annual senior event, the Grammys, which we’d worked so hard to get running outside of school as the inside one was no longer supported by our staff. Our prom and graduation are obvious events I’m looking forward to, and still, have hope for.”

Map of COVID-19 cases spreading over the world as of March 6, 2020. Map provided by the World Health Organization.

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