During uncertain times, it can be hard to find the good around us.
Within the past week, the University announced that a moving company will pack and store students’ belongings for free until the fall semester. While GW moves to prioritize student safety, the COVID-19 death toll in D.C. currently stands at 11 as D.C. announces a shelter in place order.
Here’s the best and worst from this week’s headlines:
For the past couple of weeks, students who left their belongings on campus have been anxious about GW’s plan to return or store their belongings.
Officials responded to that concern by hiring two moving companies to pack items for free and talk with students over a video call about how their belongings should be put away. The decision is not perfect – some students petitioned to move out themselves. But travel is becoming more dangerous during a pandemic, and the University worked in the best interest of student safety. Officials are doing their best given the circumstances of the pandemic, and students should respect that the decision was not intended to cause a stir.
GW handled this situation much better than some other schools. Virginia Commonwealth University was blasted for packing up students’ belongings without a heads up to make room for COVID-19 patients. Georgetown University immediately told its students to move out after announcing its transition to online classes for the spring, but students who could not return and pack were forced to pay a storage company. On the other hand, the University is allowing students access to the packing process by setting up video calls and waiving storage fees.
Telling students that someone else will be responsible for packing up their belongings may not sit well with everyone, but students must understand that officials are making decisions necessary to keep students safe.
D.C. tallied its highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in one day Sunday, and the District is now classified as a “major disaster area” with shelter-in-place orders implemented. Many students might not be on campus, but officials and other University workers still live in the DMV.
As the state of the District gets progressively worse, the University can be affected in several ways. We should pay attention to how the spread of the virus will affect summer classes in a couple of months, study abroad programs and other administrative decisions. Mandating that students leave campus is a safety measure the University took to protect students, and that measure could be extended for as long as it takes to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The DMV currently notches about 2,934 cases of coronavirus, and that is likely to increase as the days pass. It is unlikely that life as we know it will come back anytime soon, and students should expect to see more tough changes ahead.
Hannah Thacker, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is the contributing opinions editor.