Students at UW, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University are laying low for the next few weeks.

Image: Nicole Pasia

My winter quarter was packed. As a junior at the University of Washington, I had classes and an internship (hey, Seattle Met!), I wrote for my school paper, and on top of that, I trekked to the Music Building every week with a tenor saxophone for band practice. Finals were approaching, but spring break couldn’t come fast enough.

So, when UW president Ana Mari Cauce sent out a university-wide message on March 6 announcing classes would be held remotely for the rest of the quarter due to concerns over COVID-19, you’d think I would breathe a sigh of relief. It was the second year in a row my fellow Huskies and I had our winter quarter cut short (thanks, Snowmageddon 2019—what luck!). But this sudden hold on our daily routine left many of us scrambling. 

While some professors have been holding virtual video classes and posting finals online, others gave up entirely, canceling finals and basing grades on midterms and previous assignments. For students in those classes hoping to boost their GPA with an aced final, well…better luck next quarter.

The closures aren’t just affecting the school, though. This time of year, students would usually flock to University Way, the multi-block strip of shops and restaurants better known as “the Ave,” packing into cafes with laptops and textbooks like a scene from Gilmore Girls. Instead, it feels like a ghost town, and small businesses already struggling with an increasingly gentrified landscape are feeling the financial pinch

College students count the hours until we can catch up with friends at intramural sports or band practice. Our weekends are spent at bars or lounging in rare bits of sun at the park. With most activities canceled (dance concerts, workshops, and even the UW Wind Ensemble’s highly anticipated tour in Korea), we're left in our (expensive) dorms and apartments without that respite we so often count on. 

In fact, the only time I left my University District apartment this weekend was to turn in my primary ballot. But with it came a newfound sense of pride. As I walked toward the ballot box a few blocks away, I passed a few other students making the journey, marked envelopes in hand.

I won’t see most of my classmates until spring quarter, but we’re still voicing our thoughts on social media and checking up on one another. Despite the fact that we’re college students in a major epicenter of America’s coronavirus outbreak, we’re taking care of ourselves and our community. We're doing our best to keep calm. Well, at least until cherry blossom season starts.

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