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Students at Eastern Oregon University, La Grande, follow physical distancing guidelines in this photo from Wednesday, Sept. 23, while waiting to check in on move-in day.

LA GRANDE — Mask-wearing students began to move into campus dorms at Eastern Oregon University, La Grande, in preparation for the fall quarter classes starting Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Masks, hand sanitizer stations and maintaining social distance while standing in line were among the behaviors implemented to help keep students healthy while they moved in, according to a press release from the university.

"I think EOU did a good job of telling us what the expectations were and all the regulations," freshman Samantha Spriet said in the press release.

Orientation leader Dustin Follett said he was impressed with the incoming students' ability to adapt during the event. He said he could tell students and their parents had read the information EOU sent out prior to move-in day. He was glad to see the students were ready for the challenges of attending college during the pandemic, which is something all members of the campus community are facing.

Move-in day is part of the "Week of Welcome" — or WOW — activities for new students. Previously, events and group gatherings were held on and off campus to introduce students to their new home and the people they would be living with. However, due to COVID-19, the university switched welcome activities to a virtual format.

WOW leader Cassandra Sánchez said the event would remain interactive and enticing for students despite the shift to a virtual venue. The schedule of new activities included a magic show, trivia and workouts, such as power yoga and Zumba.

"Being in person, I feel like it was easier to make connections honestly, but virtually it's been cool seeing how these students are interacting, like through the chat," Sánchez said. "(Online) does limit some of the activities that we are able to do, but it also opens up the door to the newer activities."

Fall classes began via remote access Wednesday, following COVID-19 testing of all students. Once test results are evaluated, according to the press release, the university expects to resume in-person instruction.

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