BUFFALO, N.Y. — On January 27, University at Buffalo senior Yuqi Pang was boarding a plane about eleven hours away from Wuhan, China. But she almost didn't make it back for the start of a new semester.
"There were actually two flights after my flight on the same day they got canceled right after I took off," Pang said.
It was all part of some travel restrictions the country imposed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But unlike Pang, 20 UB students are unable to return to class in the states because of those restrictions.
One of them expressed concern to a UB student journalist, saying it wasn't even the virus she was worried about.
"The student said the only problem she's having right now is she may have to spend an extra semester here because her major classes are not available online and so it's probably a 'waste of a semester' for her," said Shuyi Li, a staff writer for UB's student newspaper "The Spectrum."
UB issued a statement saying it's assisting those students who can't come back to class on a "one-on-one basis." That could include having the students take online classes or an independent study. But for those students, the problem goes well beyond getting the coursework done.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, students must take a certain amount of classes in person in order to keep their student visas.
"So even though there are online choices that they can make, if they only do the online classes, they won't be eligible for the visa," Pang said. "That basically means they are kicked off from school and they have to apply again and have to apply for the visa thing again."
She says time is the biggest factor of all though. Not only is it pushing back everyone's plans, it's also affecting her own.
"People have a plan, their career," Pang said. "Their graduation. I really hope this is done because my mom has to go get her U.S. visa before she can come and attend graduation with me."