On March 13 Homeland Security released an ordinance restricting travel to and from select countries.
The ordinance stated that this restriction was done, “in order to help prevent the spread of travel-related cases of coronavirus in the United States.” It goes on to say that “the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf issued a Notice of Arrival Restrictions outlining the process for American citizens, legal permanent residents, and their immediate families who are returning home after recently visiting certain European countries (listed below), China, and Iran.”
On March 16, President Mahoney sent out an email to the student body discussing the campus’ future. In the email Mahoney said that residence halls must remain open to accommodate students who have no alternative housing situation. News of this “move out if you can” policy came as a shock to many, making it an emotional time as well.
“It’s horrible. Our families lie on the other part of the globe. I feel alone, because I can’t meet them due to travel restrictions. Even though families make us feel safe we are held behind by the restrictions,” said Priyah Thaker, an international student from India. Thaker is studying Graphic Design at SF State this semester.
From the United States, Italy, Japan, Germany, to Greece this virus is spreading quicker and faster with every handshake, hug, and cough out there. Over the past couple of days we have received news that Italy has remained in a new quarantine lockdown for four weeks now under a careful sight.
According to John Hopkins on January 23, there is a rising rate of infected individuals spanning from the United States to Iran. With rising death tolls, new cases everyday and authorities watching cities with more caution—more people are concerned when will this pandemic end.
July Ciletti, a Cinema major at SF State, was studying abroad in Italy when COVID-19 broke out.
“I worked extremely hard in the study abroad process and became the first SF State cinema student to be accepted to Nuova Accademia Di Belle Artí in Milan,” said Ciletti.
During her acceptance coronation, she was faced with the beginning of what we now know as the coronavirus. Ciletti wasn’t ready for what was going to happen next, all she was excited about was the grand new adventure she and her mom were going to take in Milan.
Upon Ciletti’s arrival on Feb. 21, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19. One day in and there were only three cases—Ciletti thought her and her mom were safe. It wasn’t until a few days later when she heard there were six more cases and counting being confirmed in Italy.
“Day six was 600 people. My mom was with me. She is a molecular biologist and began to panic. We went to the store and stocked up on pasta, water and any essentials needs,” said Ciletti. “On Monday, the 24th, my school cancelled orientation. Orientation was supposed to be where I’d find out about getting an Italian social security code, permit to stay, and many more things vital to living in Italy for five-months like I was planning.”
By day seven, Ciletti’s mother decided to buy a plane ticket to leave the country. Ciletti tried to convince her that she was fine to stay, that school would open next week and everything would go back to normal—it wouldn’t.
For international students that are studying at SF State this semester, their worries are equally as concerning.
Excited and ready to become a senior this year at SF State, international student Karan Shah was devastated and upset when he heard about COVID-19 shutting down campus and losing his home.
Shah is an international student from Ahmedabad, Gujarat who is studying industrial design.
“I’m anxious and worried, more than ever. No food in the supermarkets and stores and I’m an industrial design student so I had a lot of work left at the woodshop which is now closed so I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Shah.
Not only does Shah have to move from his home in San Francisco, he also cannot move back to India until his work permit gets cleared.
“I’m not moving back…now I’m applying for jobs here so if I land up in a job, I’ll have to apply for a work permit. And once all of that is cleared, maybe I can go back to visit,” said Shah.
What comes next for international students, their finances and safety still remains unclear.
The coronavirus has affected thousands and as we wait to see what next steps need to be done, San Francisco and other neighboring counties have been ordered to take preventive measures to avoid further spread by asking its residents to quarantine.