PARKVILLE, Mo. — Thousands of local international students and their respective universities are breathing a sigh of relief.
The Trump administration has rescinded a rule that would have led to them being deported if they were taking classes entirely online.
The about-face came at the start of a hearing Tuesday on a lawsuit brought forth by Harvard and others saying the rule announced last week was in direct contradiction to what immigration officials told universities would be the policy throughout this emergency.
Spikes on the volleyball court helped Nada and Noura Meawad win the 2018 NAIA National Title for Park University.
But right now the only spike the twin sisters from Egypt have been worried about is coronavirus and how it would affect their ability to stay in the country.
“It didn’t make any sense to us,” Nada Meawad, the NAIA’s National Player of the Year, said from her Kansas-City area apartment.
Last week the Trump Administration announced no new visas would be issued for students taking all their classes online and those already in the country would face deportation if they didn’t transfer to a university where they could take at least part of their classes in person.
“Once we knew the rule, we honestly got so scared. we were thinking about a lot of things like how are we going to throw everything behind and just go back home,” her sister Noura said.
The Meawad twins worried about having to travel home to their family in Cairo in a pandemic and then taking online classes that might be in the middle of the night their time.
At Park University, administrators have been scrambling the past week to try to help the university’s 263 international students who make up about 20% of the student body on the main campus.
The university plans on offering 40% of its classes face-to-face this fall, at least for now. But like everything with COVID-19 right now, that’s subject to change.
“Had the ruling stood it would have placed institutions at a terrible dilemma, whether to meet the safety needs of the students or to see to it that international students could complete their education,” Park University President Dr. Greg Gunderson said.
With the brief potential crisis facing international students now averted, Gunderson said the university can return to focusing on things like social distancing this fall and creating a better educational environment for all students.
The twins are now looking forward to their senior year in what’s been a remarkable American college experience.
“We feel really grateful that people understand the situation,” Nada Meaward said.