Thousands of students at University of Washington move back to campus for fall semester

Around half of the students who normally live on campus have decided to move back to the University of Washington for the fall semester. Tuesday was move-in day with classes starting next week.

Although thousands will be back, life will look very different with restrictions in place for pandemic safety.

It is a rite of passage, parents emotionally trying to let go and their children gaining independence.

The unprecedented start of the semester means the experience will be strange for the freshman class especially.

“I wanted to feel like a part of the community and wanted to meet some people,” freshman Maddie Roth said.

Whether it’s to save a little bit of that college experience or wanting to maximize tuition costs, around 4,000 students have decided to live on campus.

The majority of classes meanwhile will remain 100% remote for now.

“I pay a lot of money to go here being out of state for me,” Sophomore Kailee Martin said.

“We were really excited that they allowed people on campus it would have been devastating to remote learn from California,” parent Chris Corona said.

Chris and wife Julie dropped off their son who will be playing baseball for UW.

The couple says they are not overly concerned about the virus, trusting that their son will take precautions. Julie Corona says, if anything, the pandemic is teaching young people how to change and adapt the best they can.

“I’m ready to let him fly, soar once he gets here,” Julie said.

The eagerness to live on campus also came with the choice to get a COVID-19 test, although it was not mandatory.

"It was difficult but it's like we had to do it to be safe," Sophomore Emma Pattee said.

“I knew it was going to be uncomfortable but I didn’t think it was going to be that uncomfortable,” sophomore Jacqueline Williamson said.

The University of Washington says there will be two students per room. Each room comes with its own bathroom. Thirteen of their 21 residence halls will be occupied.

“A student and their roommate become a family unit,” Executive Director of Housing & Food Services Pamela Schreiber said.

Scheiber says students are encouraged to limit interactions beyond their roommate.

“They are not permitted to gather in groups and there is an expectation as they go through the hallway, stairwell etc that they are masked up,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber says they have two buildings designated as isolation sites in case of outbreaks.

“It was multiple conversations I had to have with my parents trying to figure out how to stay safe,” Sophomore Olivia Creson said.

“Everything is a little chaotic, no one really knows what to do and what to expect but everyone is trying their best,” Sophomore Kailee Martin said.

 Off-campus, students have moved into fraternity and sorority homes already at reduced capacity.

Two sororities have opted to not allow any students to live in their homes.

Leaders of UW’s Greek community say strict rules are in place including a social moratorium where all gatherings are prohibited. They are also not doing any in-person recruitment activities.