Thursday, 26 March 2020 13:13

College Becomes Temporary Home for Students

JOHSNTOWN — Students at Fulton Montgomery Community College are making their dorm rooms a second home during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Jane Kelley, vice president for student affairs, said during the college spring break, FMCC offered a place to stay for residential students that didn’t have a place to go. Kelley said 14 students stayed on campus during spring break, but that number has since decreased. 

“We made the opportunity available for the international students to stay if they were having trouble getting home,” Kelley said.  “We have, as of [Wednesday], we have three international students that are staying, and then one residential assistant who has been there throughout, and one student who doesn’t have a great situation at home so he’s staying there as well.”

A total of five students will stay on campus for the duration of COVID-19. FMCC closed March 13, the Friday prior to spring break, and would remain closed through March 31. Since then, the school has moved to a remote learning format. 

“What has changed since then is that we decided, along with a lot of other Suny colleges, is to go to a total remote learning model for the rest of the spring semester, so no students will be on campus for the rest of the semester,” Kelley said. 

Because the campus is shut down, not a lot of services can be offered to the students on campus, but the food service provider is still delivering food to the residential halls each day. 

“We have a fridge set up in one of the lounges so they’re making sure that the students are fed,” Kelley said. “We’re making it work.”

Kelley said the remaining students would be able to partake in remote learning from the residence halls.

While those five students remain on campus, 282 high school students were flown from Israel to return to families during the virus outbreak. The high school students were studying at the Alexander Muss High School in Hod HaSharon Israel. 

On March 16, the Jewish National Fund USA released $500,000 from the organization’s endowment to charter an EL AL Boeing 787. 

“Its money that we want to put towards education and making sure all students can go and attend the high school we are running in Israel,” Stefan Oberman, director of communications said. “In circumstances we had to unlock this funding in order to bring the kids home.”

According to the press release, the students were escorted by bus to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport where chaperones accompanied students through passport control and to the plane. Students then flew to JFK and were greeted by parents, and member of the JNF. 

“Everyone was crying and parents were crying, but it was the right thing to do because given what has happened in Israel right now, it’s not on the top of the radar of anyone, but it’s basically on lockdown and if we weren’t able to get the kids out last weekend, I doubt we could get them out today,” Oberman said. 

Oberman said that once in JFK, students continued their travel to their hometowns in Albany, Boston and Saratoga Springs.

“It was a huge operation and never had we thought that one day we would charter a private dreamliner to charter those kids back home,” Oberman said. 

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