The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Students cope with isolation and campus closure

4 min read

Going outside for fresh air can help reduce stress. (


Staff Writer

As the world feels like it’s turning upside-down, UMW students are doing what they can to cope.

“Our lives and institutions have been disrupted in ways that we never could have imagined when the semester began,” said University President Troy Paino in an email sent out March 17 announcing that students will not return to campus this semester.  

In the same email, Paino strongly encouraged students to leave campus, but not all students are able. UMW students both on and off campus are experiencing stress from all the drastic changes they’ve dealt with in the past weeks.  

The quick switch from in-person classes to online lectures at home is extremely stressful, and students all over deal with this change in different ways.

Junior computer science major Jane Hill is one of the students staying on campus. She said, “It’s hard to feel motivated to do anything because everything feels cold now with the isolation.”

However, Hill, like many other students, has her own ways to cope with everything going on. She makes sure to get enough sleep, engage in hobbies and stay in contact with her friends.

“I depend a lot on my support network of friends and chosen family not only to prosper but also to survive,” she said.  

Freshman studio art and music double major Alexander Ohene-Okae planned to stay on campus for the time being, but had to leave once it was announced that in-person classes would not resume as scheduled. As an art and music major, he is in many hands-on classes that require resources he had hoped would be available to him on campus. He tries to stick to his normal schedule but with more time for hobbies and sleep.

Freshman English and elementary education major Laurel Meyer originally stayed on campus because it seemed safer than her hometown with less reported cases of COVID-19.

“While staying on campus, I was still in the study environment I was used to which made getting work done easier,” she said.

But since the announcement that in-person classes would not resume, Meyer went home. In order to deal with the change in work environment as well as self-isolation she has been spending time outside and with her pets.

Some students focus on their physical health; sophomore psychology and creative writing double major Emma Pillis is having a hard time keeping up with all the changes. She focuses on drinking a lot of water and limiting outside interactions.

Undeclared freshman Anna Jaca is at home for the rest of the semester. She manages the stress of the situation by spending time with family and enjoying the outdoors while self-isolating. Jaca also benefits from reminding herself that the situation could be worse.

Others try to distract themselves in order to cope. Undeclared freshman Scotti Mullen spends her spare time painting, solving puzzles and stitching, while freshman Zoe Sampson has been redoing her bedroom at home and writing a short film.

“I predicted coronavirus in my short film,” she said. Sampson drafted this idea in the fall semester about an apocalypse caused by a virus that kills the elderly and causes younger generations to fight over resources.

Sophomore Garrett O’Donnell goes for walks and plays with his dog in his spare time at home.  

During this isolation period, it is important to stay social and keep up to date with friends and family. After all, humans are social creatures. And despite being unable to travel and see people face-to-face, there are still ways to stay in contact.

Freshman and prospective English major Remington Van Lieu is doing her best to be social under current circumstances.“It’s been a little difficult to stay healthy mentally, as I haven’t left my house for over a week, but I have been staying in touch with my friends through Facetime and going outside when I can,” she said.

For some students, their time at home is used less for dealing with schoolwork, and more to make money from their part-time jobs. Undeclared freshmen Megan Mercuro and Maggie Riley have both been working more during their time at home. There is a chance that their work could close down due to the virus as many other organizations already have.

While UMW students have been hit with seemingly nonstop changes and stress-inducing online classes and homework, they have also found that practicing self care and taking care of eachother is the key to coping with these unprecedented times.

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