By Jeff Uveino
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When St. Bonaventure University made the decision to cancel all in-person instruction from Monday until March 27, it gave students the option to remain on campus.
For some students, the unprecedented situation provided an opportunity to return home until classes resumed.
For others, especially those whose hometowns had been infected by the Coronavirus, it gave them the chance to remain in an area that the virus has not yet reached.
“Students who feel safer staying on campus — and many have indicated that to myself and colleagues — can do so,” said Dr. Dennis DePerro, president of the university, in a letter to the SBU community on Friday. “I’ve received many messages from parents expressing the same sentiment.”
Priscilla Contreras, a junior from New York City, said that staying at SBU was a better option for her than returning home.
“The best thing for me to do is stay on campus because I’m young and could fight off the virus, but if I go home, I could pass it on to my parents, my grandmother and everyone else,” Contreras said. “I don’t want to feel guilty for doing so, and staying (at SBU) is better for their safety.”
Contreras said that if she could not stay on campus, she would have concerns over storing her belongings and being able to get home on short notice.
“If I run out of food, I can easily just go to the Hickey (dining hall),” she said. “How will I able to get home and get all of my stuff with me home?”
As of Monday, there had been nearly 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NYC, and none in Cattaraugus County, where SBU is located.
Anthony Adams, a freshman from Philadelphia, said that being able to stay on campus made him feel safer than if he was forced to leave. As of Monday, there were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia County.
“Yeah, I think that staying on campus is safer because the virus isn’t here,” Adams said. “SBU is located between two very small towns with little interaction from outsiders, so there’s really no chance of people getting it here.”
DePerro said that he and senior management would meet regularly to determine whether an extension to the suspension of in-person instruction would be necessary.