SUNY Students separated from their homes during pandemic

SUNY Brockport Campus. Photo by Andrew Boehly https://www.flickr.com/photos/museumandy/43977921781/sizes/c/

By Marti Feyerabend

After SUNY Brockport cancelled in-person classes were cancelled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, many students travelled back to their hometowns to be with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately not all students had this luxury. For some, going home would mean putting themselves at greater risk for contracting the virus.
The U.S. is seeing large outbreaks of COVID-19 all throughout the country, particularly in New York City, which makes up nearly one third of the country’s confirmed cases as of. As of April 21st the U.S. has seen 783,955 confirmed cases. 251,691 of these cases are located in New York and New York City makes up 55.81% of the states cases.
“My hometown of Queens has a lot of cases. Two of my friends from home have it right now, my neighbor had it and my close family friend passed away from it,” said SUNY Brockport Senior Kathleen Gibbons, “I originally wanted to go home…my parents wanted to wait until this cooled down for me to go home, but then it peaked so I’ve been stuck here.”
Gibbons isn’t the only student from New York City that made the decision to stay in Brockport. Many others have made the choice to stay in their off-campus college housing out of fear of the virus.
“I feel much safer from the virus here,” said SUNY Brockport Senior Jay Moolchandani, from New York City.
“I’m from right outside of New Rochelle, I feel like I’m safer up here. It has been really bad there for a while so I didn’t even plan on going home for spring break.” said another SUNY Brockport Senior, Gordy Macdonald, “I’m from right outside of New Rochelle. It has been really bad there for a while so I didn’t even plan on going home for spring break.”
On March 20th Gov. Cuomo issued a “State on Pause” order that banned all non-essential travel and gatherings. As a result of this the students that chose to self-isolate in Brockport realized they wouldn’t get to go home anytime soon. These students expressed frustration about having to miss out on spending upcoming special occasions with their loved ones back home.

March 20, 2020- Albany, NY- Gov. Cuomo holds a press briefing on Coronavirus where he announces “State on Pause” initiative. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

“My sister’s birthday was a few weeks ago and I wasn’t able to be there,” said Macdonald. “I was hoping to make it home in time for Easter, but it doesn’t look like things are getting better anytime soon.”
“I have always done something with family on Easter and not doing that this year is sad,” said Gibbons.
In a time when it’s difficult to have face to face time with others, students separated from their families are still finding ways to keep in touch.
“I have family group chats and I use FaceTime and Zoom calls.” said Gibbons.
These communication platforms aren’t just being used by students to communicate with loved ones back home, but also fellow their SUNY Brockport peers.
“I’m doing a lot of FaceTime and phone calls, especially with the people I might not see anymore because we’re graduating.” said Moolchandani.
For Gibbons and Moolchandani, this was their last semester before graduation. Gibbons and Moolchandani, along with the rest of the graduating class, have been very vocal about missing out on the last part of their senior year.
“I look back to last year and remember being so excited for all of the end of the year activities that were planned. Especially because I was on Senior Council, it just really made me sad that everything was cancelled.” said Gibbons.
Moolchandani has similar thoughts, “Im genuinely heartbroken because I’ve put in years of work and it was the last time I get to see a lot of people. That was cut short, it’s really upsetting.”
Despite the frustration and stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, students are trying to make the most of their time being socially isolated in Brockport. Many people in the Brockport community are enjoying the canal and surrounding parks. Gov. Cuomo recently issued a statement encouraging residents to get outside and exercise as long as they maintain a safe distance from one another.
“I’ve been hiking every now and then. Sometimes I go skateboarding near the canal,” said Moochandani, “I’ve also used this time to watch a lot of films, try out new music and I’ve done some new content creating.”

Sunset over Erie Canal in Brockport. Photo by Marti Feyerabend


“Even though I couldn’t go home, I do think it has been easier to focus on my schoolwork here than if I’d been at home,” said Macdonald. “When I’m not working on school, I’m spending a lot of time exercising, reading and trying to eat healthy. I walk the canal a lot and I’ve gone hiking a few times.”
For Macdonald, this event has also been a time for him to reflect on his life.
“It’s helped me to appreciate the little things in life more and I’ve learned to take nothing for granted,” said Macdonald, “I hope other people will take something positive away from this and learn to make the most out of what we’re given right now.”
Though these are difficult times, the Brockport community continues to persevere as students make Brockport their home away from home.



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