JMU students have differing plans for the next few weeks, after classes are moved online

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - On September 1st, James Madison University announced its plans to transition to virtual classes and for some that means moving off campus.

Sophomore Kiley Rotella, like many others, requested an exemption to stay on campus due to health concerns.

“My father is having a really big surgery next week and cannot under any circumstances be exposed to anybody with COVID, ” Rotella said.

Rotella said she is joined in her sorority house by some of her other sisters. “Everybody in my house got approved to stay, as far as I know, I’m staying here until October and after that we don’t know what we’re doing,” Rotella said.

Some students, like Katie Cline and Anika Singh applied for an exemption to stay until they get their COVID-19 test results back.

“My grandma lives with us and both my parents are high-risk, so I’m staying on campus when I get my results back and then we’ll go from there,” Singh said.

However, both Cline and Singh agree they’d like to stay in Harrisonburg if they can.

“We’re going to take it one step at a time and see what is going on because we don’t know if everything is going to be open on campus,” Cline said.

“It’d just be so much better to stay here because the environment is better for learning,” Singh said.

But for other students, these recent changes means going back home.

“I think the university wanted everybody to be like off-campus so that they could lower the cases, so I feel like it’s safer to go back home,” freshman Hannah Curtin said. “It’s kind of disappointing because I wanted like to stay longer, but I know it’s for the right reasons,” Curtin said.

Curtis is headed back to New York.

First-year student, Liz Marcheschi, is headed home to Northern Virginia.

“My parents are coming down to pick me up tomorrow morning and then I’m going to get adjusted Sunday and then start classes again throughout this whole quarantine period,” Marcheschi said. “We were all joking about how like it feels like a summer camp, it doesn’t feel like we’re in college. You know, being first year and now it literally is like a summer camp. It feels like just yesterday we were unpacking,” Marcheschi said.

There is also a large number of students who wish to stay in town and Matchbox Realty is one of the many apartment and realty companies trying to house students off-campus.

Phillip Saunders is the marketing coordinator at Matchbox Realty.

“We’ve gotten roughly between 300-350 calls and emails from prospective residents looking to see what the options are,” Saunders said.

Saunders said Matchbox Realty is offering some short-term leases for students during this time.

“That’s what motivated Matchbox to step out. To let students and parents especially know that there’s more than one option available,” Saunders said.

Classes are set to start fully online Monday, Sept. 7th. Move-out will continue until then.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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