The first day of school is the time most students at Gallaudet University begin their school year.
They begin classes at 8 a.m. and work through the night.
But on Thursday, the first day without school, the school suspended classes for the first time in nearly three years.
For students in the early years of the new academic year, that could be the difference between starting school in April or falling behind.
“The last thing we want is to have students fall behind and not have an opportunity to finish their academic year,” said Sarah Johnson, an associate dean for student life at the University of Georgia.
The school’s students began classes Thursday, April 14, at 8:30 a.mi. and finished in just under five hours.
Johnson said it is difficult to schedule classes with a school shutdown, but it is a choice students must make.
“We are still in the process of trying to figure out what the best plan is for the future of this institution,” she said.
A few weeks ago, the University suspended classes after two weeks, Johnson said.
The decision was based on a review of the campus’ operations, staffing levels, staffing requirements, campus policies and safety measures, Johnson told CBC News.
It is a time of transition and uncertainty, she said, but the students will work together to figure it out.
“The most important thing we have to do is be proactive in the way we have put the school in a position where it can handle these things and move forward with our future,” Johnson said in an interview with CBC News on Thursday.
It’s been two weeks since the school closed its doors, but students have yet to be offered the option of starting their own studies, she added.
A handful of students have been enrolled at nearby campuses.
Some have taken a full-time job or gone back to school, but others have found ways to get by without a full day’s education.
“We’re still struggling,” said student and former Georgia senior Emily Lechtenberg.
Lechtwang is the first in her family to go to college.
She said she will continue to study after school, which starts on Friday.
“I know there are people who have been through this, and I’m just going to keep working hard and do what I can,” she told CBC.
“It’s still the same day and the same class every day.”
A lot of people can’t afford to go out, but she said that doesn’t mean she can’t do it.
“For me, it’s just kind of like, I just want to try and be productive and make it through the whole day,” she explained.
Leachtwang said she hopes the closure will help her students realize their potential, and help them find jobs they could otherwise not find.
“That’s definitely something that I’ll be working on and working on in the future,” she added, adding that she plans to work at her local coffee shop and the cafeteria to make ends meet.
“This is something that’s really helping us as a student population, and that’s something I’m proud of,” Lechthynng said.