Students walk by the historic arches at the University of Georgia for what might be the last time in weeks due to COVID-19.
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Students walk by the historic arches at the University of Georgia for what might be the last time in weeks due to COVID-19.

University seniors say they are concerned about their last few months of classes after the University System of Georgia mandated online instruction by all institutions until the end of the semester.

 

Some, like University of Georgia senior Megan Wahn, are upset at the sudden forced departure from campus.

 

“I feel like people always say college is the best four years of your life and it's the best chapter of your life. And it just kind of feels like that really big chapter of my life has been cut off mid-sentence and I didn't get any closure to it. And that's really, really difficult for me,” Wahn told GPB News.
 

With few exceptions, the University System of Georgia made the decision Monday to close all 26 institutions for the remainder of the semester, impacting nearly 330,000 students enrolled in the state. Some of the universities include: The University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Kennesaw State.

 

“This action comes following last week’s decision to suspend instruction for two weeks to ensure business and instructional continuity, and to allow further state assessment of COVID-19. Students are not allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from their institution, which will be forthcoming soon,” Teresa MacCartney from the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia said in a statement.
 

Megan Wahn, a senior at the University of Georgia, celebrates being a Grady Ambassador during her final year on campus.
Credit Grady College of Journalism

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Wahn, a journalism major, worries transitioning to an online classroom might not be as realistic for the work she needs to do to finish out her required course work. “I'd say probably like 80% of my assignments on the normal... require some degree of human interaction. And I don't really know how that's going shake up in a meaningful way when we switch to online,” said Wahn. 

This change in instruction comes exactly halfway through the normal semester calendar, leaving many students with questions on how they will get lectures. Kyle Chiu, a University of Georgia senior said he doesn't know how he will finish coursework because his professor does not post online. 

"I've got a professor who's in his last semester teaching and he doesn't do anything online. So now I have two classes that have no online material. In fact, I don't really have any assignments to begin with. So, the only thing your grades are really based off of is if you are listening to the professors speak and taking in their information to write papers. Then when you can't do that, it's a little scary,” said Chiu. 

Then there is the question about students living on campus in student housing. Students are not allowed to return to campus to get their belongings at this time, according to USG's instructions.

 

Taylor McInnis, a senior at Georgia Southern, earns her Bachelor's in Kinesiology in May. She started to cry when she heard the news that she would not be returning to campus to finish out her last semester of her undergraduate career, she said.

“The biggest part I'm sad about is all of the socializing with everyone and like doing the senior goodbyes. Like all of the little ceremonies we do, I'm sad about my 21st birthday. Literally everything in the last two months that you do [as a senior] have been taken away through this,” said McInnis.

Now she's transitioning and moving off campus.  

“I'm going to have to move back home with my parents. They are going to have to refund us all of our money for our sorority back with the housing money and food. We had a meal plan and we were supposed to eat at the house every day for lunch and dinner. Now, they're going to have to refund that money so we can eat at home,” continued McInnis.

In an email sent out to University of Georgia students, the university stated they will work with students who are unable to return home or find alternative housing options on campus. The email also referenced negotiating refunds for student housing, dining plans and other school related service expenses. 

For now, not being able to say good-bye to the friends and campus they love, students are practicing social-distancing and taking to social media to share their gratitude for the time they have had on campus. 

“Last night, I FaceTimed all of my roommates and said that it was nice living with them. Like we were all sad and crying. I've been messaging people a lot through social media and texting a lot more than I ever did before,” said McInnis. 

Closing Universities is a crucial next step in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, the University of Georgia System said.

 

“In the end, we want to ensure that our faculty, staff and students are safe; that we do our part to help stem the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia; and that we fulfill our mission to graduate our students even in the face of these challenging times,” MacCartney said. 

 

Kyle Chui, a senior at the University of Georgia, enjoys a football game alongside his family.
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Kyle Chui, a senior at the University of Georgia, enjoys a football game alongside his family.
Taylor McInnis, pictured in the back row second to the left, is pictured with her sorority sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha from Georgia Southern.
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Taylor McInnis, pictured in the back row second to the left, is pictured with her sorority sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha from Georgia Southern.
Taylor McInnis's mom takes to social media to highlight some of the emotions her family is dealing with all of the sudden change.
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Taylor McInnis's mom takes to social media to highlight some of the emotions her family is dealing with all of the sudden change.