When the state’s first case of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, was diagnosed in Pine Bluff, students from the region attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff quickly found themselves with an unexpected directive to go home.

When the state’s first case of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the Coronavirus, was diagnosed in Pine Bluff, students from the region attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff quickly found themselves with an unexpected directive to go home.

Montreal Allen, a Central High School (Helena) graduate studying at UAPB, found herself packing to return to her home in Helena-West Helena last Friday for an undetermined period of time while continuing her studies online.

She said, “There are lots of us from Helena at UAPB that are affected. Many didn’t have rides and having to arrange transportation home on short notice.”

The students had to be out of their dorm rooms by Saturday, she said. That meant packing quickly.

Allen says the students are concerned and recognize the seriousness of the situation. She said, “We are really worried. We have been reading the stories. This is already disrupting our lives. We don’t know what’s next.”

The unexpected trips home are affecting some students adversely, but Allen had considerable praise for the generosity of the people of Pine Bluff through this ordeal.

She said, “The community has been phenomenal. There are lots of offers to either assist with transportation or to help with expenses to store our belongings. There are just lots of good people in this community.”

Allen asked local residents to keep the students returning home and those at high risk for the virus in their prayers. She said, “Please remember us and our families in your prayers. Check on your families and relatives here as well. Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.

Southeast Arkansas (SEARK) College in Pine Bluff also closed last week.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville have transitioned all instruction to online modes of delivery while still leaving dormitories open.

Tuesday, it was announced that the University of Arkansas at Monticello would remain in online delivery for the rest of the current school year.