While many students packed their belongings and headed back home due to the spread of COVID-19, a select few still remain on campus.
Spanish Teaching Assistant Luciana Sarda says the new Simpson College’s campus scenario is surreal. Sarada had to stay at Simpson because her home country, Argentina, has shut down its borders.
Campus housing was closed on March 31 to all students except those with permission to stay.
At the beginning of the school year, Sarda was selected to participate in a full school year to assist professors in the language department. As spring break started, she and many others began to worry about the spread of COVID-19 and how it would affect their situation.
“We were worried about the rapid spread of COVID-19 and, foreshadowing all this situation, we contacted our country and our superiors to consider possible outcomes,” Sarda said. “At that moment, there wasn’t much consciousness about what was happening, all the situation was diminished, and we couldn’t decide fast to leave.”
Sarda says that thanks to the assistance of Professor Lau Cesarco Eglin and the head of the department John Pauley, who worried about their status, they would be allowed to continue their duties online from their countries. But an hour after they scheduled the flight, they were contacted to confirm that the country had closed the borders and all the flights were canceled.
“With the border closed and the uncertainty when it will open, we are thankful that Simpson College let us stay in a safe environment. Our German colleague got a plane ticket to return in April. In our case, Luisa and I are uncertain about returning dates, but this is day by day,” Sarda said.
She says Pfeiffer is offering “to-go” options for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the week and brunch and dinner on the weekend.
“The bad thing is that as there are not many people around, there are days that they don’t have enough food or it’s not appealing at all,” Sarda said. “For example, last Friday night, I felt really disappointed because they didn’t have any warm meal for dinner. Fortunately, they prepared cheeseburgers for me and I chose some ingredients for a salad.”
She says that she is continuing to live in Clinton. However, she knows that many students have been moving out and a few have moved in. Students staying on campus have been moved to either Clinton, Station Square or theme houses.
To keep busy, Sarda has been finding activities to do inside. She says she exercises, cooks, does homework, plans lessons, delivers conversation tables online, reads, watches series and also has online classes with her Argentinian students.
Although this is new territory for many, Sarda says she hopes others can see the positives to the situation.
“I hope all the Simpson community is safe and healthy with their families and they enjoy this critical moment with their loved ones. I really encourage everybody to see the positive aspect of all this and keep on learning new things and do activities that they not normally can do.”
According to Dean of Students Luke Behaunek, there are now only 50 students still residing on campus.