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Students start petition over Univ. of Idaho's decision to hold in-person classes

A group of students is pushing to have online courses as an option before returning to campus.

MOSCOW, Idaho — In a message to faculty and students University of Idaho's president said classes will return to campus starting Aug. 24.

President Scott Green also released a list of protocols the school plans to follow.

Masks will be required in every class. After Thanksgiving break, the school will transition to online courses for the rest of the semester and several other changes are expected to take place by the time classes begin.

Some students are interested in other options besides in-person class.

“Re-opening is not everyone's top priority,” said senior Beth Hoot. “People are more worried about their health and keeping their families healthy than they are about rushing back to school when it's just not safe yet.”

In response to the school's announcement, Hoot has started a petition.

She's asking for all University of Idaho faculty to have the choice to teach from home and students can remain where they currently live for online courses.

“We don't know if gathering together is safe yet. We don't know where everyone is coming from and we don't know who has been exposed to COVID and who's a risk,” said Hoot.

The university said its heard from voices that agree with this message and they're willing to listen for ideas to make the experience better.

While they wait for the semester to start, Green is asking for everyone to be prepared for the possibility of transitioning to online delivery should data and advice from public health officials change.

“Are there challenges, are there concerns? Of course there are but we'll continue to work through those,” explained Communications Director Jodi Walker. “We have a lot of protocols in place and things we are continuing to work on as the start of school approaches.”

The school plans on having thermal scans outside of largely populated buildings to check student temperatures.

Potential places that will be installed include the dining hall and library.

“Being a senior math student, I have some pretty hard classes and it's a lot better to be in the classroom environment but I am a little worried,” said Madison Dabol, a senior at the school.

“People are people and if they don't take the virus seriously, they don't take the precautions the university is putting into place seriously and things are going to go bad,” said Dabol.

Before students are allowed to return on campus. Each one will have to take a COVID-19 test.

The university will send more details about the test in early August.

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