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Longwood student: ‘We’ll be OK’

The Longwood University campus was mostly empty Thursday morning after the school announced late Wednesday night it was temporarily cancelling classes after one student tested as presumptive positive for the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Some students worked to pack bags and laundry baskets filled with clothes into cars. Restaurants at the landings, such as Chick-fil-A, were nearly empty.

The few students found on the streets shared their feelings about the school closure and the virus.

All students interviewed felt that the decision to temporarily cancel classes was a smart one, although a little inconvenient.

“I feel like it was smart just to get ahead of things,” senior Brittaney Bonner said. “I know a lot of other schools were closing as well, so it kind of made me feel a little better about the situation, especially since there was a presumptive positive case here.”

Sophomore business administration major Johnny Henriquez agreed.

“I think it’s a good decision considering the panic. I mean, it’s unfortunate that we did have to close school. I had two exams today,” he said.  “I have to take them online now, so that kind of screws up the process a little bit, but it’s a good decision considering the panic.”

Bonner was preparing to head home to Midlothian later on in the afternoon, finding that dealing with the school closure would be easier there. Other students were electing to stay on campus or in their apartments in town, although they felt inclined to limit their contact with others.

“I will likely limit my exposure to people since I am unsure if I have come into contact with someone that has the coronavirus,” student Matthew Jones said in an email. “I will also stay in Farmville so I don’t risk getting any family members sick.”

Sarah Wells Mathis felt similarly.

“Yeah, I’m a little hesitant about public spaces. I live in a townhouse, so I already have my own groceries, so I’m going to cook for myself more,” she said.

Several students felt less inclined to give in to the sense of panic surrounding the community.

“We only have what, one presumptive case?” Henriquez asked. “The panic I guess is a little over exaggerated, but I feel fine going anywhere.”

“I am not super worried. It does feel like there’s a lot of hype and a lot of overreaction,” added Mathis.

Jones felt worried about the community’s immune-compromised individuals and the elderly, but was hopeful about residents’ overall health. “I feel that if you are relatively healthy, then you should be fine.”

The overall message sent by the students was one of hope and confidence for the future.

“We’re fine. We’ll be OK,” assured Henriquez.

“I think we’re in a weird place where we don’t know what’s happening,” Mathis said, “and everyone’s freaking out because we don’t know what’s happening. I would like to see less panic … we’re going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.”