COVID-19 is causing some of this year’s high school graduates to alter their plans.

Dominic Stossel had planned to attend Yukon University in Whitehorse this fall, but starting school has been put on hold.

“The university said, ‘Let’s put off your enrollment until the spring semester,’” Stossel’s mother, Amanda Randles said.

Canada has a low COVID-19 case count compared to the United States (122,000 compared to over 5 million) and has, in general, been more conservative when it comes to mitigation measures, which has complicated the process for U.S. freshmen who planned to enroll in Canadian schools.

Randles said the plan is to have Stossel check back with the university in November to see if spring enrollment will be possible. In the meantime, he is living at home and taking online education courses, unaffiliated with the college.

Unlike Stossel, many graduates planning to attend college in the U.S. were given the option of delaying, taking courses online or attending in person.

Graduate Megan Whitermore said she would have started attending University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in person this fall if not for COVID-19. Now, she plans to do her first semester online.

Whitermore said after seeing all the mitigation measures in place for students attending in person, she decided it made more sense to take classes online. Having taken a few online courses through the University of Alaska this spring, she realized she enjoyed the format.

“I liked that you could kind of make your own schedule,” Whitermore said, adding that the platform UAS uses for its online classes was really intuitive. For now, her plan is to spend most of the fall semester living with friends in Juneau, so she has the option of supplementing online courses with face-to-face meetings with professors.

Whitermore said she knows a semester online will be different from the in-person experience of a campus.

“There are going to be some things I miss out on,” Whitermore said, but she’s hopeful she’ll get to experience campus living down the road. She said she hopes to attend in-person this spring and do a study abroad program in her second year.

Others college-bound graduates have opted for the campus experience, despite restrictive mitigation measures.

Aurora Alten-Huber said her college plans remain the same—go to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania this fall and live on campus. She said the alternatives, online schooling and taking time off, were much less appealing.

“I’m kind of scared that if I take a gap year, it’ll turn into a gap decade and then a gap two decades,” Alten-Huber said. “I didn’t want to do online school because it was the same price, and if I wanted to do (online schooling), I could go in Alaska.”

The reality of living on a college campus this year will look different than it has for students in the past.

“Everybody’s going to be wearing masks all the time. It’s not optional,” Alten-Huber said. “We’re required to keep a booklet of who we’re in contact with, ‘I walked by so and so, maybe I breathed on them.’” Other mitigation measures include limiting dorm rooms to one student and reducing classes sizes.

Alten-Huber is scheduled to leave Haines later this month. She said she has some concerns about leaving, including uncertainty about what happens if she gets COVID-19 on campus. She said so far, it’s been difficult to get ahold of the school to ask these kinds of questions.

For Alten-Huber and other graduates who are opting to attend college in person this fall, the independence and change of scenery campus living offers were strong motivators.

“I just needed to get out of Haines. Maybe I’ll die of the plague, but at least I’ll get out of Haines,” Alten-Huber said.

Sara Chapell said her son Dylan decided early on that he would attend in person if the opportunity presented itself. His school is letting students come to campus but has put in place a number of fairly restrictive safety measures.

“We still feel the benefit of living away from home and getting to know other students with similar goals in person is going to outweigh the disappointment of losing a lot of the traditional first-year stuff,” Chapell said.