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Heading to college amid a pandemic

OSU freshman shares his concerns about living on campus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — School will be back in session for most students -- in person or remotely -- in less than a month. That includes The Ohio State University. 10TV's Pete Scalia spoke with an incoming freshman about leaving home for college during a global pandemic. 

RIley Groh just finished high school. In less than a month, he'll be leaving home in Cincinnati to attend Ohio State. As many schools and universities continue to update their plans for class this Fall semester, Riley still has a lot of questions. 

"I dont know what we're doing when we get there," he says," but we did do orientation online." 

In-person campus tours were canceled over the summer, so Riley really hasn't had the chance to explore the school. "I mean, I've never even toured there," he says. "I've been there a couple of times, but I've never toured there, so I'm a little bit nervous about that."

As far as what his first semester of college will look like, Riley says he's been receiving regular email updates from OSU. "Most of my classes are online," he explains. "A few of them say 'to be announced,' my academic adviser told me they would be online. And then, the ones that say they're not online are hybrid, so they're all some portion online."

Move-in weekend is typically a busy time on Ohio State's campus, but even that will look different this year. "It's supposed to be a move-in weekend, typically," says Riley, "but now it's like a period of two weeks...so it's all staggered out, and I have to like, pick a time to move in, which is actually kind of helpful, a little bit."

Ohio State has updated its policies for students who are living in the dorms to help promote social distancing. But that's not really a concern for Riley. He'll be rooming with a longtime friend. "I've already known my roomate since I was in like first grade or kindergarten," he says. Riley is concerned about other students, though. "It's a little bit nerve-wracking," he explains, "just because I feel like, freshmen at least, other freshmen aren't going to be as into quarantining as they should be, probably."

Riley's dad, Steve Groh, is a teacher in Cincinnati, so he's been dealing with the pandemic as both a parent and an educator. "So, there was a moment when we were out hiking together or something," Steve remembers, "and Riley said, you know, it kind of dawned on him like, did I just walk out on some Thursday, and that was the end of my senior year?"

Steve says he had no idea we'd still be dealing with the pandemic heading into the Fall semester. "I mean, I thought, maybe we're gonna be out for two more weeks. Like, when I walked out the door, I didn't think this was for the rest of the school year," he adds.

As an educator, Steve understands the difficult decisions that schools are having to make right now. "It's a little bit like preparing for a mass shooter, you know?" he explains. "Like, you can have steps for lockdown, but there's a chaos component to it, that really can't be prepared for. You're bringing a bunch of kids into a room, it is what it is."

There's been a lot of talk about COVID-19 testing at schools this Fall -- for teachers and students. Steve says he's not sure how administrators will be able to keep up. "I think when you've got these schools that are like, 20- and 30- and then like Ohio State, you know, like, what, 50-thousand people," he says, "yeah, I'm just very curious about how that would roll out."

As for Riley, despite all of the uncertainty, he says he's still looking forward to moving to Columbus. "It sounds wrong," he says, "but I'm excited for a change of scenery, just because I've been stuck in the house pretty much all summer, so.. I'm excited to just start doing something different, and get used to something else, I guess."

As of this writing, when it comes to testing, The Ohio State University has the following policy on its website: "A voluntary pilot COVID-19 swab testing program is underway for a limited number of employees who have returned to Ohio State's campuses. All testing will be conducted in compliance with guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. Ohio State will take appropriate measures to assure the privacy and confidentiality of the protected health information of students, faculty and staff. The results of this pilot will be used to inform decisions about broader testing for autumn."

The school is constantly updating its website -- you can get the latest information regarding how OSU is dealing with COVID-19 here.

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