WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Residential students at MSU have been sent home and have already transitioned to online learning due to COVID-19, but for international students, returning home may not be so easy.
Any students that are unable to go back to their home country are allowed to stay on campus, and it’s in times like these where students are grateful to know that their university will always support them.
“While university housing is closing for international students, they do not have to go home if they can’t,” MSU Global Education Director Michael Mills. “They’re welcome to stay here. University housing is remaining open for them as well as dining services.”
Along with dining services, the library and the health clinic are still open for students on campus. Staying on campus doesn’t only help students stay safe it helps them study as well.
“[With] the transition from in-person classes to online, you want to make sure that you don’t change up your environment too much or lose too much time,” Caribbean native and MSU junior Krysten Springette said. “I prefer to be where I am confident with studying and everything.”
As for graduating seniors who must stay on campus, they have a limited amount of time to stay in the country altogether.
“If they are graduating then technically, per law, they have about 60 days to either change their status to what we call OPT which is a work permit or to return to the United States,” Mills said. “Since Aug. 1 is passed that 60-day measure, students will have to decide whether they want to stay here and change their status.”
Even for seniors like Caribbean native and MSU senior Candace Benjamin who have a permit, it may still be a struggle to come back in August.
“You may be in a different state; even for those who staying in America, they might be in a different state,” Benjamin said. “To pack up and move on, maybe your family may not be able to attend with you. I don’t see many people coming.”
Several international students in Wichita Falls said they feel the support from MSU and the community.
“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to the community who has been extending their hands to help us,” Springette said. “So that we can be comfortable and not too stressed out about the current situation right now.”
MSU’s food pantry has been helping feed international students. MSU is also working on a program to link local families with global students to assist them with meals and groceries.