Mountain pass closures keep some college students stranded at home

SPOKANE, Wash. – Some college campuses will look a little emptier when class starts Monday. Students who need to travel from the west side of Washington may not make it to class on time in eastern Washington because mountain passes are closed until Sunday.

The Washington State Department of Transportation decided to close all major mountain passes because of snow and avalanche threat.

Washington State University’s Pullman campus decided to cancel classes on Monday and Tuesday to give students extra time to make it back to the Palouse.

Junior Alex McCollum doesn’t have a lot of experience driving in the snow. Now, he won’t have to drive in dangerous weather from Poulsbo to Pullman this weekend. He says he can relax a little more.

“I’m just glad they did the cancelation for the first few days. I think students are definitely relieved. A lot of my friends were in the same boat as me. We’re all kind of, ‘Oh, okay.’ We can take a deep breath. We’re OK. Definitely happy about that,” McCollum said.

READ: WSDOT: All major passes likely closed until Sunday

Before WSU Pullman canceled classes, senior Ava Wainhouse already decided she’d stay put in Kent until Tuesday, the day after class should’ve started.

“Personally, I didn’t feel comfortable going back on Sunday because I knew everyone was going to be trying to go back. I just didn’t believe the pass would be ready for that much action again,” she said. “I’m glad the university decided to cancel those first two days of classes. I just think it was the safest option.”

While the Pullman campus canceled class for the first two days of the spring semester, WSU’s Spokane campus will stay open. The university said its campus staff felt it was safe enough to reopen.

Both Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga are scheduled to start Monday and Tuesday, respectively. EWU said it will be lenient on attendance for students. Gonzaga says its professors will catch students up if they miss class. Both universities are asking students who are traveling from western Washington to email professors if they can’t make it to class.

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