One student cradled a TV in her arms, carrying it down the steps in front of Smith Hall. A different student rolled a suitcase down the ramp, followed by another student with luggage just a moment later.
On Thursday afternoon, just a day after the University of Kentucky announced that classes would be online for the two weeks following spring break to prevent the spread of COVID-19, students were moving out of dorms across campus.
Cars were parked on the sidewalk between Smith Hall and Woodland Glens IV and V. A long row of cars with hazards flashing stretched down Huguelet Drive, in front of Haggin and Donovan Halls.
These are not unusual sights just before spring break, or even on a typical Friday afternoon. But since UK students have been encouraged to stay home from March 23 to April 3, many students are leaving their dorms for weeks rather than for a weekend visit home or a spring break vacation.
‘Getting out of hand’
Jerry Espinoza sat on the bumper of his car, waiting for his daughter Sofia to walk out of Smith Hall with more of her stuff.
Sofia said that she packed for “spring break and the end of the world, a little bit.”
Jerry admitted that he is sort of worried about the threat of COVID-19 at UK. He said that while some view it as not a big deal, he’s realizing it is a serious threat.
“I think we have to pay attention because it’s getting out of hand,” he said.
This all seemed a little excessive, said Sofia, who is a freshman majoring in integrated strategic communications.
But she said she realized this is more serious than she originally thought when organizations started “shutting everything down,” such as the NBA, which suspended its season, and NCAA March Madness, which—as of Thursday afternoon—will be played without spectators.
Sofia is going home to northwestern Indiana for spring break to spend time with her family, but she expects to be back on campus, even if classes do continue online for longer than originally planned.
If in-person classes do resume on April 6 as planned, that will be only five weeks before finals week, which will put students in a “time crunch,” Sofia said.
‘A very sciencey person’
Freshman Inga Suceska is heading to a spring break trip in Florida— she hasn’t changed her plans because of the coronavirus.
She said she is not that worried because, as a nursing major, she understands how pandemics work.
“I’m a very sciencey person,” Suceska said.
Some of her friends who are less educated are more worried, she said, especially those who live in bigger cities like Chicago, which is where she’s from.
“Bigger city, more panic,” she said.
Overall, Suceska thinks the situation is not that bad and understands that UK has enacted these measures to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.
‘I plan on bringing her back’
Outside Chellgren Hall, Ivie Cullen and her mother Barbara packed her bags into their truck.
Barbara had driven from Atlanta the night before to pick up Ivie and her horse Pongo.
Ivie is part of UK’s eventing team, so Barbara is planning to take Ivie and Pongo to a competition next week. After that, they were planning to return to UK, but instead, the Cullens have to accommodate a horse in Atlanta for a few weeks.
Ivie’s frequent interaction with horses is part of the reason that Barbara is not that worried about COVID-19— her daughter fully understands how to practice good hygiene, Barbara said.
Barbara said she is not overly worried but also does not understand how sending students home will protect them from the virus. If they’re not in class, they’ll go to the movies or shopping, where they can still be exposed, she said.
Ivie said she thinks her professors, who are working to move their courses online, are more worried than she is as a student.
She wouldn’t mind staying home if UK extends the time period for online classes, Ivie said, but her mother wants her to come back.
“I plan on bringing her back,” Barbara said.