As the end of a unique fall semester approaches, students are preparing for final exams and remaining diligent in their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to the college’s COVID-19 Notifications website, as of Nov. 19, Meredith has no student cases of COVID-19. However, students are becoming more worried about the number of COVID-19 cases on campus increasing during the upcoming spring semester due to students relocating off campus over winter break. The Meredith Herald reached out to students to learn what concerns they have about winter break and how COVID-19 is affecting their plans for the holidays and spring semester.
Freya Dahlgren, ‘24, has been living in Faircloth Residence Hall this semester, and she will be relocating off campus for winter break; however, she “would opt to stay on campus for part of the break if [the option were] included in [her] housing costs.” Dahlgren does plan to return to on-campus living for the spring semester, but she will be “taking everything one day at a time” because of the potential increase of COVID-19 cases on campus. She says, “I am concerned that we will move back on campus after the break and then get kicked out” due to COVID-19.
While Dahlgren hopes that she and her fellow Meredith students will get to remain on campus during the spring semester, other students have already made different living arrangements. Zoe Blankenship, ‘24, has been living in Poteat Residence Hall this semester, but she plans to move into an off-campus apartment following winter break, stating that “living off campus would be better for [her] mental health” given “how things have played out with the pandemic.” While Blankenship “had originally hoped to be living in the dorms for [her] entire freshman year,” she “would be extremely concerned for [her] health” and that of her roommates and suitemates if she were to return to on-campus living for the spring semester.
Lexi Crank, ‘24, also plans to commute following winter break after living in Heilman Residence Hall this semester. Crank says that she is “not a fan of on-campus life right now” because socializing is not easy with the presence of COVID-19. Another factor that influenced her decision to move back home was the uncertainty about campus life next semester. “I’m worried that people will make really poor decisions over the break, come back and get many people sick on campus,” Crank explains. Blankenship mirrors this sentiment, expressing her concern that COVID-19 cases will rise throughout peak flu season.
In addition to affecting students’ living arrangements, COVID-19 is affecting students’ holiday plans this year. While Dahlgren plans to travel to Mexico with her family, Blankenship and Crank will be holding off on seeing extended family. Crank says that not seeing extended family or going Black Friday shopping with her mom this year “is a huge let-down,” and Blankenship will miss spending time with her cousins over Thanksgiving dinner. After these interviews, it is obvious that students are looking forward to a time when in-person gatherings both on and off campus are once again possible.
By Molly Perry, Staff Writer