Why students are staying in Provo during the pandemic

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Many BYU students not native to Utah have chosen to stay in Provo, despite the school’s encouragement to return home. (Preston Crawley)

Many BYU students who are not from Utah have chosen to stay in Provo despite the University’s encouragement to students to return home.

Reasons for remaining on campus vary between students, but most common among them are employment or housing contracts.

Hailey Goold, a sophomore from Albuquerque, New Mexico, said she is remaining on campus because of her campus job and obligation to continue paying rent.

“As long as I keep making money and paying rent, I’ll probably continue staying here,” Goold said. “New Mexico is currently on lockdown, so if I went home, I wouldn’t be able to leave to go to a job.”

Editing and publishing student Emma Franklin from Cleveland, Ohio, is in the same situation as Goold. Her current housing contract doesn’t end until the Winter semester ends and she needed a way to pay rent.

“I work at the BYU library, which is a nice student job that’s still available to me while I’m here,” Franklin said.

While many like Goold and Franklin may be motivated to stay by contractual obligations, others stay because of their relationships.

Maddie Olson, a family studies student from Burlington, Wyoming, said she is staying in Provo because her fiance lives in Pleasant Grove. She doesn’t want to live away while the two continue to plan their wedding, which is still set for June. While she is away from home, she said she has a good support system here in Utah.

“I didn’t want to leave him,” Olsen said. “I talk with my family every day anyway and I have an older brother that lives in Utah as well.”

Communications student Claire Richards from Las Vegas, Nevada, said she can’t return home because her parents will be presiding over the Mexico Tuxtla GutiĆ©rrez mission starting in June.

“With everything going on, I might not have a house to go back to in Vegas, but I’m cool here in Provo,” Richards said.

Brian Naillon of Longview, Washington, had several reasons for choosing to stay in Provo.

“I have four younger siblings,” he said. “It makes it incredibly hard to study with kids running around one house. Plus, Washington state is completely shut down right now.”

Naillon said his family is supportive of his decision to stay in Utah. His father works as a physician helping treat COVID-19 victims and his family doesn’t want to risk his exposure as well. Still, Naillon said the main reason for staying involves his favorite hobby.

“They closed all the rivers, so I can’t go fishing,” Naillon said. “The Provo river is open, so I’ll still be here.”

Whatever their reasons may be for staying in Provo, BYU continues to encourage its students to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19.

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