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SDSU Students Rush To Move Out As Dorms Close Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Two students load up a car outside the Zura Residence Hall at San Diego State...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Two students load up a car outside the Zura Residence Hall at San Diego State University, March 18, 2020.

Wednesday became a move-out day for dorm residents at San Diego State University. Coronavirus concerns led school officials to a last-minute decision to close the dorms months early.

"It’s absolutely nuts that they give us less than 48 hours notice to get out," said freshman Chase Conderman.

"Right now it’s kind of like scrambled and stressed getting everything right away," said freshman Maggie Cheema.

Last Friday, university officials told students the dorms would be open over spring break (March 27 - April 5), and that residence halls would remain open until May 15. Then on Tuesday, the university told students they need to leave by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

In an email to students and parents, SDSU officials explained how they made the decision to close the dorms early:

"Following the March 16 guidance from the State of California, a number of cities across the state have introduced shelter-in-place mandates. Anticipating that more cities will follow, San Diego State University will need to expedite move-out plans for students this week...

"We recognize how difficult this accelerated timeline will be for many students. Exceptions will be made for those who cannot go home, those who have known health or safety risks, and for those students who do not have an alternate residence to return to."

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

The notice sent students scrambling for help to pack up. Some had family members fly in from across the country to help them move everything out. Others relied on friends to help them.

With coronavirus concerns top of mind, many took precautions to cover their faces.

"I’m 61," said parent Lee Kirbach, who was helping his son clear out his dorm. Kirbach was wearing a white face mask. "I’m in the 'at risk' category so I said, 'Better safe than sorry!'"

A lot of students said they are sad their first year of college is ending so abruptly.

"I wish I didn’t have to move out you know my freshman year got cut short," said freshman Sydney Niesen.

"It’s not too bad but I really like going to class," said John Clamon, another freshman. "I like being here, so to go home and be online... it kinda sucks."

Students can get a waiver to stay in the dorms longer if they need to. And some of their money will be refunded.

"We’re getting reimbursed even for the month of March, so we get reimbursed for housing and for our meal plan," Niesen said.

Even though students are moving out, the semester is not over. Many still have online classes.

"We’re still paying tuition to go to a 4-year institution," Niesen said. "But it’s online, so it’s a little weird."

Most parents KPBS talked to said they understood the decision to close the dorms, but wished there was little more than a day's notice.

"It’s an inconvenience, yeah," said parent Kirbach. "But I take it as a net positive (to) move (my son) out of here and be safe."

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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