Teen Olympic hopeful set to attend Ohio university must leave non-essential parents behind at border
Parents are being blocked from driving their kids to campus due to closed border
Eighteen-year-old Windsorite Luca Chiandussi has high hopes to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics, but first, he wants to get his degree.
Luca starts his first year at the University of Findlay in Ohio next week on a nearly full-ride scholarship, but because the border is still closed to non-essential travel, his parents — like many others — are being blocked from driving him to campus and getting him settled in.
Luca and his mother are preparing to have a hasty goodbye at the tunnel.
Yet, he said he's still looking forward to the school year.
"I feel pretty excited to leave home. I get to be a little bit more independent," he said. "I'm not nervous about the pandemic because I know the school is taking everything well and has everything prepared for all the students. They have lots of rules set in place."
His mother, Lisa Chiandussi, feels a bit more nervous since the border restrictions prevent her and her husband from dropping Luca off to campus.
"We're not essential and he's allowed to cross the border but we can't," she said. "He's a freshman. So, I just want to bring my son over there, move him in and get him all settled in."
It's not the school year she envisioned for her son, but she's also not concerned about the pandemic south of the border because of the safety measures the university has put in place, which include wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
"I was worried about him being exposed, but I gave him guidelines. I said 'you follow the way the Canadians are doing it and you treat ... the university as a resort. You do not leave that area,'" she said.
Lisa also advised her son to opt to get his groceries delivered and stay around the same people to further protect him from COVID-19.
Luca said it will be easy to practice physical distancing as his class sizes are small and his swim practices will run on alternating schedules, with the pool running on 50 per cent capacity.
"I'm mostly worried about how my swim season's going to be happening because they're unsure of everything. They're not sure .. when the meets are going to be starting, but everything else I envision the same. I just won't be involving myself in many activities," he said.
His swim meets are postponed in the fall, but practices will begin next week when he starts classes.
Luca — who doesn't own a vehicle and is too young to rent a car — can't drive himself to the university, but his parents found a way to get him there.
"Basically, we're allowed to bring him to the border and drop him off there. So, we do have a transportation service that's picking him up at the border," Lisa said.
Not worried about the pandemic in the U.S.
"We're going to drive over at the tunnel and leave him there and we get routed back to Canada and [the transportation service will] pick him up."
Luca doesn't anticipate he will be homesick, but says he will miss his family and friends in Windsor.
"I hope I can come back for Christmas, but I don't think it's going to happen," he said.
Lisa said she's sad that she may not see her son for the rest of the year, but is preparing for it.
"Worst case scenario, I guess if I need to, I can go to Toronto [and] fly into the States. That's the only way I can get there," she said.