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About 50 Catawba students remain on campus amid shutdown

By Carl Blankenship
carl.blankenship@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Some students have stayed on Catawba College’s campus while classes have moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelly Sandoval, a senior theatre arts major from Santa Fe, New Mexico, is among them. She is finishing an internship in town and was concerned about returning from New Mexico if things began to return to normal earlier than expected.

“You’re very much focused on finishing my thesis and getting my classes and graduating,” Sandoval said. “Then you had to figure out where you’re going to be living and figure out classes.”

Sandoval lives in suite-style housing on campus, and two of her roommates are still there. Her boyfriend lives in the area as well. Those things combined have helped make things feel less desolate, but she said she still misses interaction with professors

Meanwhile, she accepted a contract to work for a cruise line in onboard productions after she graduates, but they’re shut down now and she is considering attending graduate school instead because the pandemic closed down all the work in her field.

“If you had asked me about this last year, I was really set on just getting out of here and getting more work experience under my belt,” Sandoval said.

Westley Koon, a freshman psychology student, is now living alone on campus in suite-style accommodations.

Koon said his parents live in Eden and would need to pick him up from the college. Their house is also being renovated so there is currently no room for him to stay in.

Koon has been adapting to not having the familiar structure of classes to attend every day and said having the suite to himself has been a blessing and a curse.

Jared Tice, Catawba’s dean of students, is not a student but he’s also on campus during the shutdown because he lives there.

“I’ve lived on a college campus for 20 years,” Tice said.

Tice described the campus as being similar to the slow period in mid-July, and the campus is quiet. Though, there are bulldozers and backhoes humming as the college is working on projects it cannot work on during regular semesters.

The college’s food services are still open for take-out only, serving brunch, dinner and weekend pickups. Health services are still available and students who are in counseling can tune in to their sessions remotely.

Tutoring and supplemental instruction is available as well. The bookstore was open until last week, but now all the materials students need are available online. The college has also continued its Tuesday worship services virtually.

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