Parrella: University of Idaho Working To Maintain Normalcy During Pandemic

The University of Idaho, like other colleges across the U.S. moved classes on-line for the spring semester because of the coronavirus pandemic. Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said as a land grant school, moving classes and labs into the virtual world was challenging. He said despite any challenges his staff may have had, he applauded campus leadership for stepping up and working to ensure student safety. And he added those in CALS have done a great job this spring making sure students were connected, getting a top notch education.

“We’re trying to reach out to students to make sure that if there are issues, we try to address them and get back to the faculty.  There are all sorts of things that revolve around the student’s success, especially if they’ve left the campus.  They’ve spread all of the country, and all over the state, so we’re trying to maintain contact with them, making sure that they are being taken care of.”

Parrella added transitioning on-line was not just about efforts in Moscow. The U of I has nine research and extension centers across the state, and a couple of affiliate centers as well, all of which are considered an essential activities. And to keep up research efforts, the school needs to maintain a traditional agriculture schedule, which means for this time of year, planting.

“If we don’t plant now, and use that window of opportunity for planting, and then you expect to gather data on evaluation of new potato cultivars, which is sort of the tristate agreement, if we fail to do that, then that pretty much sets back that research or that analysis of these varieties, it sets them back at least a year maybe even more than that.”

The University of Idaho, and Washington State University have both announced that fall classes will be held on campus, in person. Oregon State University has not made an official announcement, but school officials are hopeful they can hold in person classes in Corvallis this fall.

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