To stay or to go: Students decide on going home for winter break

    With the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Thomas University students question whether or not they should go home for reading week. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Lauren Boswall, a Manitoba resident and St. Thomas University student living in Fredericton, said this year will be one like no other. She is unable to go home for reading break but is going to make the trip for Christmas.

    “The isolation obviously eats up a lot of your time where you can do other things with your family,” she said.

    Kurvin Silvio, a third-year student, was planning to go back to Mauritius to see family this summer. It would’ve been his first time back since coming to Canada in 2018. He moved the trip to December because his country closed its borders when the pandemic started.

    Because COVID-19 is still ongoing, Silvio is not returning for the holidays.

    “I would not be able to go home and potentially come back for winter semester,” he said.

    Silvio said since he’ll be staying in Canada after his time as a student, he’d prefer to stay in Fredericton than risk going home and having to work remotely. He said the transition from university to the workforce is easier by already being in Fredericton.

    Silvio said he’s going to use the winter break to work on his thesis since he’ll be graduating with an honours in French, major in law, politics and society and a minor in music.

    Sarah Kohut, the St. Thomas University Students’ Union president, lives in Ontario. She decided she’ll be going home for the winter break but not reading week break.

    “I would take up a lot of time to go home for both. And in my opinion, spending time with my family for the Christmas holidays is more important than going home for reading week,” said Kohut.

    She said she’d like to stay in Ontario for New Year’s, but wants to be back in Fredericton and complete her two-week self-isolation to assist students faster in her role as president.

    Sarah Kohut, St. Thomas University Students’ Union president, said she won’t go home for reading week. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)


    While the decision to stay in Fredericton during winter break is a split decision for students outside of the Atlantic bubble, students in residence are being encouraged to find somewhere else to go for the winter break.

    Brock Richardson, director of residence life and student services, said the university is encouraging students, especially Rigby Hall residents, to return on Jan. 4 or 5 to make their self-isolation process as easy as possible.

    “Windsor is a bit different, but specifically Rigby, the ability to isolate there is really all about food service and that food can be delivered to the rooms,” he said. “That’s the key component.”

    Richardson said Rigby students received a survey which asked about their plans for the break and he said from looking at the survey, he isn’t expecting to have to accommodate many Rigby students who need to stay over the break.

    With Rigby, Richardson said the reason it shuts down is that food service doesn’t operate during the break. For Windsor Street residences, which are off-campus houses owned by STU, there is no food service.

    A lot of the students are from the bubble, he said, and others are international students. Many of them are going to a Canadian friend’s house for the break.

    Windsor Street residents are also encouraged to leave residence for the break, but have the option to apply to stay during the break if needed for $15 per night.

    Richardson said students pay for the eight months for Windsor Street, but there is a gap in the lease that excludes winter break, so students are not technically paying for that amount of time. When dividing the amount each student pays for a year by a monthly lease rate, the $15 is closer to the rate than the previous $10.

    “And that amount, it’s a per day thing, but it’s well below what their lease rate is,” Richardson said.