MEDFORD, Ore. – Going away to college for the first time is nerve-racking as is, but in the middle of a pandemic, many students are balancing pre-college jitters with COVID-19 concerns. Students at Willamette University will be returning to campus this fall semester. One incoming college freshman said she’s nervous to be starting college in the middle of a pandemic, but mostly she’s excited to head off to school.
“I’m always nervous for the first day of school, I’m really nervous this year,” said incoming Willamette University freshman Aubrey Sandler. She’s leaving home for the first time to attend the university. Moving in the middle of a pandemic is less than ideal but Sandler is taking it one concern at a time.
“There are still a lot of unknowns,” she says. Some concerns are COVID related and others, “I’ve never been away from home that long, so I’m definitely worried about getting homesick,” are what you might expect before a typical school year.
Willamette University is one of a few schools going back to fully in-person with a few changes. “We’re starting a little earlier and we’re not going back a little later,” said Sandler. Students will have a condensed semester with fewer breaks to limit travel. There will be classes on Labor Day and fall break has been eliminated.
Students will leave for Thanksgiving break and take their finals at home before coming back in the spring. “I feel pretty lucky that Willamette has been able to send out pretty clear messages about coming back to school and what that will look like for students,” said Sandler.
As for moving into the dorms, Sandler is excited to meet her roommate and move in. Her father, Ryan Sandler explained he is disappointed he won’t be able to spend much time with his daughter as she moves in because of COVID-19 restrictions, but is glad she is getting an on-campus experience.
Before heading to campus, students will have to watch a video about the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and sign an agreement outlining their COVID-19 policies and guidelines.
If students have to be sent home during the semester, Sandler said she’d be dissapointed but understanding. She is mostly excited to begin her college career studying Biology.