By Renée Santos

STOCKTON (CBS13) – Empty walkways, quads and buildings at the University of the Pacific are causing students stress.

Many who live on campus are now planning to move-out.

“They have to be out by Wednesday, so like 3 days of moving out is not enough time. So there are definitely students out there scrambling,” said senior Romalyn Elew.

The university is providing remote instruction to students and some employees are working remotely following growing concerns over the coronavirus.

Some students who live on campus are being allowed to stay if they don’t have other options.

International students who can’t return home, students who rely on campus as their permanent year-round home, and those with compromised immune systems who would risk their own health and safety by leaving, may be able to stay pending approval from the school.

The sudden notice to leave caught Jasmine Melendez off guard.

“It’s just packing everything up. Like this was really sudden, so we are just trying to get everything as quickly as possible since we have to leave by Wednesday,” she said.

In a notice to students, the university outlined its decision stating the university would not be able to provide the level of medical attention and service needed to students if a significant outbreak occurred on campus.

Stacey Westlake is helping her daughter move back home.

“So we packed up this morning. My husband took a carload back to Sacramento,” she said. “She understands. She’s not happy to have summer start early essentially even though they will be moving to an online platform.”

Even with moving to online classes, students worry about finishing school on time.

“I don’t even know if we are going to be graduating or having a graduation ceremony,” Elew said.

Below is the letter sent to Pacific students:

March 15, 2020

Dear Pacific students,

I write to you today with great urgency. COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an unprecedented phenomenon. Last week, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. To protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, we enacted several difficult decisions, including transitioning our in-person classes into a remote learning environment. I deeply appreciate your flexibility as we prepare to assist you in this transition.

While we had hoped the initial steps taken would allow for our resident students to return to campus, the worsening outlook has required us to significantly alter our student living arrangements on campus. Public health agencies predict more widespread growth of the virus and have strongly recommended that universities prepare for the most extreme circumstances. Regretfully, it will be impossible for Pacific to provide the level of medical attention and service that will be needed for our resident students if we have a significant outbreak or spread of the virus. In addition, any student who is diagnosed with COVID-19 symptoms may need to self-isolate elsewhere or travel home, which could become far more difficult as travel restrictions are imposed or transportation becomes limited.

On-campus residential living

While Pacific is committed to meeting student needs, we have little flexibility for student residential living under the current circumstances that challenge your health and safety. Effective immediately through the end of the semester, we will be able to accommodate a very limited number of students in residence on campus during a period of minimal on-ground services and staff. Please read the following carefully:

If you currently live on campus please plan to return to an alternative residence immediately.

Criteria to remain on campus include:

International students who cannot return home

Students whose health and safety are compromised by leaving

Students who are housing insecure

University housing residents who make our campus their permanent year-round home (including certain Sacramento students and Stockton staff/faculty, who will receive additional communication)

If you do not meet these criteria, you will be required to demonstrate the need for on-campus resident housing and receive a decision from the university. Additionally, those who are approved by the university to live on campus should be aware that you may not be allowed to remain for the entire semester should the situation worsen or if the university is required to take further actions.

If you believe you meet the priority criteria to live on campus please fill out and submit this form by 5 p.m. PDT Monday, March 16, 2020. We will evaluate your request and email you a response by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Please know that for those who are approved to remain on campus, life on campus will be different. In order to reduce virus spread there will be no social events or student programming. Recreation centers will not be available and dining options will be limited. You may be asked to change residential facilities and will be expected to stay on campus and not have guests.

The university cannot guarantee that students who are asked to self-isolate or quarantine themselves will be able to do so safely on campus, and it may be difficult if not impossible to find other living quarters if that happens. The university is subject to regional, state and federal health department oversight in these areas, and is obligated to respond.

Retrieving belongings

Because many students have been away for break, we know that they will need to return to campus and retrieve belongings. To protect the health and safety of our students and staff, we seek to minimize trips to campus and ask you to retrieve belongings as soon as possible.

You should arrive on campus and depart by 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Express check-out is available.

Should you be unable to meet the March 18, 2020 deadline due to travel hardship, special arrangements can be made via e-mail to Residential Life and Housing. You will receive a response by 5 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2020.

Should you prefer to give permission to a family member, relative or friend to retrieve your belongings on your behalf, please contact Residential Life and Housing for assistance.

After March 18, 2020 at 5 p.m. PDT, one-card access will be updated and you will not be able to enter the residence halls to retrieve your belongings without making prior arrangements with Residential Life and Housing staff.

Financial considerations

This unforeseen situation has caused financial challenges for many of you, and we understand that some students and their families have questions regarding finances, including financial aid, room and board and work study. The university is working on how to respond to these challenges and we will be communicating with students and families in the coming weeks. Our immediate priority is securing the safety and welfare of our community (our students, our faculty and our staff) while simultaneously ensuring that remote learning and student support are ready and available for students on all three of our campuses.

This is a very difficult time and I recognize that the steps we must take will be disappointing for many of you. The university holds the health and safety of our students and the well-being of our campus community as the highest priority. We are here to support you, and encourage you to take action quickly. Thank for you for doing your utmost to reduce the risk of viral spread by acting quickly on these requirements, practicing social distancing, and adhering to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Sincerely,

Maria Pallavicini

Interim President

 

 

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