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‘An additional burden’: high COVID-19 cases in Ontario worry Halifax students

Local students say that the situation at home in Ontario is concerning

2 min read
Natalie MacMillan

Ontarian students living in Halifax are concerned about the situation at home, where COVID-19 cases are climbing.

Ontario reported over 2,600 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as well as 87 deaths. High case counts over the last few weeks have left many Ontarians living in Nova Scotia fearing for their families and communities back home.

While Halifax is a safer place to be during the pandemic, only reporting 21 active cases of COVID-19 on Friday, that doesn’t come without anxieties of being away from home during a crisis.

Worried students

Megan Osler is a University of King’s College student from Toronto. She is living off campus in Halifax, but says that the situation at home is worrying her. She says she’s trying to take a break from the news about her home province.

“My mom wakes up every morning and religiously checks the case numbers,” said Osler. “I don’t understand how she does that. Seeing numbers around 2,000 terrifies me.”

Logan Kershaw, a fourth-year Dalhousie University student, said he is “definitely concerned.”

“It is certainly worrying to see my parents are there, even though I know that they are being safe,” he said.

Kershaw’s hometown, Newmarket, Ont., reported 15 new cases on Thursday, which brings their total cases to just over 1,200.

Dr. David Pilon, director of Counselling and Psychological Services at Dalhousie, acknowledges that there are a number of factors that have impacted students at this time. These include online learning and disconnection from friends and family.

“When we have students from those provinces or communities across the country that are really struggling significantly with COVID, it’s an additional burden on those students,” said Pilon.

He added that the counsellors at Student Health and Wellness are seeing that many students are “finding themselves very concerned about the welfare and well-being of their family and friends back home.”

Less travel

Additionally, Pilon said “the inability to travel easily back home really has been a significant source of stress for students.”

For Osler, the fact that she doesn’t know when it’ll be safe to go home has “absolutely” worsened feelings of anxiety and homesickness.

“In a regular world, I have the possibility of flying home whenever I want, if I was really not doing well. That is so not an option right now,” she said.

The COVID numbers in Ontario also make for feelings of confusion for Osler.

“I want to be with my family in the sense that this kind of a crisis makes you want to be with your family,” said Osler. “But I know that I’m definitely safer here than I am in Ontario.”

Pilon recommended for students to “use whatever means they can to stay closely connected to the people in their lives,” and to “engage in the self-care activities we need to help us endure this challenging time.”

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