Many BYU students staying in Provo, returning before January

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BYU has encouraged students to return home and stay there through the holidays and end of the semester with all classes going remote after Thanksgiving.

In a recent Daily Universe Instagram poll, 189 students said they will be staying in Provo and 254 said they will be leaving for Thanksgiving break. Of those leaving town, 57% said they will be returning to Provo after Thanksgiving.

BYU student Emily Hale is from the St. Louis area and said she doesn’t usually go home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We haven’t been all together as family for Thanksgiving for six years. It’s going to be a really good time,” Hale said. “We planned all this before the governor’s mandate. We’re hoping it works out and that we can execute the surprise safely.”

Hale will be returning to Provo after Thanksgiving break because she works an on-campus job at the BYU Comprehensive Clinic.

Cade Christiansen is another student who will be returning after the Thanksgiving holiday. He said he doesn’t want to be paying rent for an apartment he won’t be living in during December and said the majority of his roommates and neighbors feel the same.

“I do think it is sort of unfair that BYU says they want us home but won’t push housing complexes to at least give us a discount,” Christiansen said. “It’s just sort of a lack of communication between BYU and the housing complexes.”

Taylor Haney from Arizona agrees. “That’s frustrating as heck if you’re going to go home and still have to pay for it.”

Rhianna Brunson, from Wisconsin, said she knew she would have to pay rent for December when she signed her off-campus housing contract, so she isn’t upset about it. “My stuff will occupy the space while I am gone, and my other roommates will probably be here for most of the month, and so in that sense I am receiving a service,” she said.

Brunson added that if she lived on campus, she would feel like having to pay rent for the month of December was more unfair. 

When classes shifted online in March, BYU on-campus housing complexes like Wyview Park, Heritage Halls and Helaman Halls allowed students to petition for release from their contracts. After classes go online for Thanksgiving, students will still be required to pay rent for their on-campus housing.

Student Brett Snow said he isn’t too concerned about paying rent because he has enough savings to cover the cost.

There were more than 300 mediation requests of students trying to get out of their housing contracts due to COVID-19 between March-May of this year, said Emily Taylor, assistant director of BYU’s Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution. Taylor said there have been no students directly petitioning to be released from their contracts because of COVID-19 for the Fall 2020 semester.

Student Sarah Polhill responded to the Instagram poll by saying she’s leaving town to “get the h*ck out of Utah and full hospitals.”

Reponses from a recent Daily Universe Instagram poll about students’ Thanksgiving plans.

Others are staying in Provo because they or someone they love has a more susceptible immune system. Kaitie Cindrich, who has Lupus, fits the bill. She said she hopes students will be careful while they’re on break and realize some people could be seriously impacted if they catch the virus.

“If you’re going home, then stay there,” Cindrich said. “It’s dangerous to everyone you live with to not stay home. If you don’t want to stay home … then maybe consider not even going (home) for Thanksgiving in the first place.”

BYU will resume classes on January 11 with a blend of in-person and remote learning.

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