Pushing down a cart with boxes and suitcases of her belongings on a windy Tuesday morning, freshman visual communications major Madison Clark made her way to her mother’s car.

Clark began moving out Friday — hunkering down well before President Geoffery Mearns’ announcement students have to move out of their residence halls by 5 p.m. March 29.

READ MORE: Ball State president updates university response to COVID-19 pandemic

The Delaware County Health Department’s website recommends utilizing the following service in case an individual thinks they might have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing:

  • Call your healthcare provider immediately.
  • IU Health has launched a virtual clinic to offer all individuals in Indiana free COVID-19 screenings using the IU Health Virtual Visit app.
  • St. Vincent Hospital, through Ascension Online Care, is offering video urgent care visits at a discounted rate of $20 by using the code HOME.

Ball State’s COVID-19 website recommends the following for individuals visiting the university’s Health Center:

  • All individuals visiting Ball State’s Health Center will be screened during appointments and asked about health and international travel history. 
  • Before you go to the Health Center, a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead, and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day, and document your temperature each time.
  • Consider using LiveHealth Online, where you can be seen by a board-certified doctor online who can send prescriptions to the pharmacy of your choice. A visit typically costs $59 if you’ve not yet met your medical deductible.

“Not to be glum, but it kind of ruined my first year here,” Clark said. “I still had a whole semester to go, and I was kind of excited. Now, I can’t see my friends anymore because we’re all quarantined. I’m pretty upset about that.”

She held an on-campus job at Ball State’s Digital Corps, but now that she has to leave campus, she said she needs to find another job for the coming months in her hometown.

Nevertheless, Clark’s mother, Ginger Clark, said she’s glad to have her daughter home and to know her daughter will be safe.

Clark said her daughter is stressed out some of her in-person graphic design classes, which she believes requires hands-on learning, were canceled.

“I understand it, [but] it just makes it really sad,” Clark said.

Like Madison Clark, freshman art education major Lilian Trinidad said she might find it hard to deal with the new changes given her in-studio classes had to be modified so students could complete assignments from home.

Nevertheless, Trinidad said, it is a good decision for the university to send students home because “we don’t want to spread it any further than it would have.”

“It’s not that bad because it’s for the good of the whole state and the United States, but it’s also kind of weird … coming in my first year, my foundational classes and my art classes, not being able to finish them the way I should finish them,” she said.

Freshmen Mac Ayers and his roommate Luke Schafer, who were also moving out this week, play for Ball State Baseball, which, like all NCAA sports, had its season cut short in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ayers’ father, Kevin Ayers, said he was sad his son and other students won’t get to experience college and the hard work they put in, particularly when it comes to sports — “the goal of playing for something at the end of the year and then it’s just gone.”

“I guess life sometimes doesn’t work out how you think it’s going to work out,” Ayers said. “Ten percent of life is what happens, and 90 percent is how you react to it. So, just got to regroup and try to make the best out of the situation.”

The situation, he said, must be harder for seniors who, after graduation, might not get to come back to Ball State while plans for the fall commencement ceremony still remain undetermined.

“Hopefully, we’ll all do our part to get through this and get back to normal one day,” Ayers said. “Maybe, in a weird way, this is just life telling us to slow down maybe a little bit — really think about things that really matter. We get caught up in things that really don’t matter. When things like this happen, it’s going to be years to come before we can really look back and see the impact of all of it, but, you know, life goes on. There’s always a tomorrow.”

The Scramble Light remains empty 3 p.m. March 16, 2020, on Ball State's campus. President Geoffrey Mearns announced classes would be online for the remainder of the spring semester, and dorms will close March 29. Jaden Whiteman, DN

Before other announcements, like local school closures, cancellations and postponements of all student organization events and the statewide shutdown of in-person bars and restaurants, some Ball State students sought one last celebration of their time spent on campus.

READ MORE: Takeaways from Ball State’s new guidelines for student organizations

On March 13, students, alumni and some parents, without concern about Ball State’s limit on event attendance, gathered to see performers from the improv group ABSO in the Art and Journalism Building.

“It was crazy,” said Valerie Stoffer, ABSO’s co-president and one of the outgoing senior performers. “We had to scramble to figure out what we were going to do.”

The group decided the night before that this performance, originally themed around St. Patrick’s Day, would be ABSO’s final performance.

“I think it’s important to put on a good show,” Stoffer said. “People have been always coming to ABSO shows since 1991 to blow off steam, and I think that this was no exception. Everybody wanted to come in and take an hour and a half to just relax and laugh, and that’s something that I think we accomplished tonight.”

She said Friday night was “the beginning of a very strange pocket of time” — given the multiple changes which took place at Ball State.

“That’s what we do in times of darkness,” Stoffer said. “I guess your character is really tested in times like this.”

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.