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Postcards From The Pandemic: CSU Foster Scholar's Dorm Isolation

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, Cleveland State University has been teaching its classes remotely and now, its residence halls sit largely empty. But there is a group of students who’ve been allowed to remain in the dorms.

Those are the Sullivan-Deckard scholars — students who aged out of the foster care system and are getting scholarships to pursue their undergraduate degree at CSU.

Among them is Nariah Swails, a freshman who’s riding out this strange time on campus and is grateful for the assistance she’s getting from CSU’s Pratt Center.

"They have been helping us by bringing us food, groceries or giving us gift cards to go grocery shopping. Things like that to make sure we still had everything we needed," Swails said.

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Home Alone

When Swails looks out her window, the sidewalks are empty. Inside, there are only about a dozen other Sullivan-Deckard scholars staying in the dorms with her.

During the school year you usually have to share a bathroom with one other person and then you will have to share a kitchen and common area with three other people.

So now it’s like I’m kind of living alone, and I don’t have to share a bathroom or a kitchen area with any other people. It’s just me in here.

They don't really want us congregating because they want us to practice social distancing. So it's, like, it's weird, it’s different in a way. But, I mean, it's OK. I just get up, do my day to day routine.

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Swails in her CSU dorm room. [Nariah Swails]

Classes, Comedy, and Connection

Routine for Swails consists of a full course load she’s taking online, which takes up most of her time. To chill out, she watches comedies, and she stays connected with the people she loves.

I talk to my grandmother daily and I have who I identify as my mom... so I kind of do have a support system, especially from my school and the high school that I went to - that district. I do have a village.

With people who don't have places to stay, I wonder, like, what will happen to them, you know, because this is the worst time to be out and have nowhere to go.

I'm definitely grateful for being able to remain on campus, and I have a place to go.

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