Coronavirus pandemic have students abroad and their families on edge

March 20, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic have students abroad and their families on edge

Charlotte Blair’s mum Melanie makes up Charlotte’s room in hope of her returning home. Photo: Rosa Garcia Knight.

Kiwi students around the world are debating whether to return home during the fast changing coronavirus pandemic.

However, they may not have much choice in the matter as many countries are closing their borders and Air New Zealand is cutting their long-haul flights by 85 per cent.

Charlie Hay has been in Grenoble, France, on exchange from Otago University and had just boarded his flight home to New Zealand as France announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all citizens.

“It changed really quickly and all of a sudden I was on this flight home.

I knew it was time to leave when the usually packed streets were eerily quiet, luckily I got out when I did,” says the psychology and marketing student.

Lawson Osteen, a Victoria University marine biology student, has decided to stay on exchange in Copenhagen until advised otherwise, despite the 864 cases of COVID-19 and the first death from the virus in Denmark within the last 24 hours.

“It’s very up in the air as my uni hasn’t recalled us yet but it is such a waiting game.

I just have to check my email every five minutes.”

Charlotte Blair is on a track scholarship in Little Rock, Arkansas, and is worried if she comes home, she won’t be allowed back.

“I really want to come home, but not knowing when I’d be able to come back is what worries me.”

Charlotte’s business degree classes are all online until at least the end of May.

“We have to wait till March 30 to find out if we are training as a team again, even though all of our races have been cancelled, but that’s also the cut-off date for long-haul Air New Zealand flights.

Everything keeps changing so we don’t know what’s happening.”

Charlotte’s mum, Melanie Blair says, “I just want my children close by, so I know they are safe.

But I trust Charlotte’s decision on when she returns home and we are all taking it day by day and staying safe.”

Seb Schacht is on scholarship for football at Saint Mary’s College in San Francisco, which has closed for at least the next month.

Seb’s NCAA spring season is cancelled and California has been in a state of emergency for over a week.

“I don’t really know the health system here, but I’ve heard the horror stories, so that’d be an extra stress if I did get sick.

But then imagine if I did have the virus and was responsible for giving it to my parents or spreading it in New Zealand,” says the business student.

Over the weekend Jacinda Ardern announced the Government’s plan to control the virus including a 14-day self-isolation upon return to New Zealand.

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Coronavirus pandemic have students abroad and their families on edge

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