College Plans

Josie Goodrich is attending her Washington State University classes online from home in Hermiston after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the university to decide on a virtual start to the school year.

It’s that time of year of where college campuses nationwide would be welcoming back students.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered campuses and altered sports schedules from Oregon to Florida, has caused colleges to change their method of offering classes to students.

Recent Hermiston graduate Josie Goodrich, who is attending Washington State University in Pullman, will begin her college experience at her family’s dining room table.

“Honestly, it’s upsetting,” said Goodrich, who is studying criminal justice law enforcement administration. “I was excited to start a new chapter in my life. I would like to be there. Now, not much is changing, except for the teachers.”

Goodrich is just one of thousands of area students who have had to change their post-high school plans with COVID-19 and local governments keeping campuses closed.

According to Eastern Oregon University’s website, classes will be held in-person, remotely and in hybrid formats this fall. Some class locations may change to control classroom density.

Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton will provide classes and student support from a distance during fall semester, while Walla Walla Community College will offer online classes, and select in-person classes where hands-on learning is needed.

Goodrich, who started classes Monday, Aug. 24, said she bought some books for her classes, and also bought online access material for one of her classes. She also had to buy several online programs that are needed to submit class work because each professor uses a different program.

The hardest part of the fall distance learning for Goodrich was doing the sorority rush online. She spent the better part of a week doing Zoom interviews and taking virtual tours of the different sororities at WSU.

“There are 14 sororities at WSU,” Goodrich said. “You pick your top 10, go through interviews, and cut the list down again. It would have been nice to do that in person.”

Goodrich now is a member of Kappa Delta, and said she’s already made friends with her sorority sisters on social media.

While Goodrich is learning from home, her 2020 Hermiston classmate Garrett Walchli is at Utah State University in Logan. He has a mix of online classes and hybrid classes, which include some in-person instruction.

“I moved down here a week and a half ago,” said Walchli, who is a member of the Aggies football team. “Our campus is open, but depending on the professor, there are online classes, in-person classes, and some that are a mix.”

Classes at Utah State begin Aug. 31, but because of COVID-19, the football season has been put on hold until the spring. The Mountain West Conference, as well as every other major conference throughout the nation, opted to move their seasons.

“We can’t be with the coaches or in the (athletic) facilities,” said Walchli, who is majoring in international agribusiness management. “I live in the dorms, and there is no mixing of students. You cannot go visit someone in another dorm. We are trying to be college students the best we can.”

The two facets of Idaho

Heppner co-valedictorian Nicole Propheter is attending school at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, where she also is a member of the women’s golf team. Classes started Aug. 24.

She appreciates being able to leave home and be on campus.

“I have been here for a week and a half,” she said. “The athletes get to move in early. It’s actually a great feeling to be here. We do have to wear a mask everywhere we go except our room.”

While Propheter is on campus, not all of her classes are in-person instruction. Her math class is online, while her sociology class is a hybrid of one day online, and one day in person. Her biology lecture is online, but the lab is in person. Her chemistry class and lab are both in the classroom.

“They are limited to 45 students per class, and those fill up pretty fast,” said Propheter, who is majoring in biology. “The chemistry department moved to a bigger building, so that is in person.”

Propheter also has the option of eating in the dining hall, or picking up a box meal to go.

With golf season in the spring, Propheter won’t have to adjust her schedule, but the Warriors will miss out on several fall tournaments.

“They have three really nice 18-hole courses here, which is a nice change,” said Propheter, who is used to Heppner’s 9-hole course at Willow Creek Country Club.

While northwest Idaho is open, southwest Idaho is not.

Pendleton’s Lane Maher, who is attending The College of Idaho in Caldwell, is starting his college life at home.

“I could have gone on campus if I signed a special waiver,” said Maher, who began classes Aug. 19. “It hasn’t really hit me yet. I sit in my recliner and do the Zoom classes online. I don’t feel like a real college student yet. It’s not the same.”

Maher, who is part of the Yotes track team, hopes to be on campus in January. Until then, he is working out on his own.

“Hopefully things will open back up,” Maher said. “If not, my whole freshman year will be lost. This is no fun.”

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