College students move home to Wausau for virtual learning as campus closes

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- College students back in Wausau are reflecting on the abrupt end to their school year.

Students left UW-Oshkosh dorms Saturday (Photo courtesy of WLUK).

Colleges in the state have quickly emptied and shifted to online learning, leaving students uncertain about the rest of the year.

"The past few weeks have been unexpected," said Trey Buchberger, a UW-Oshkosh freshman.

Saturday, students moved out of UW-Oshkosh with little notice, because of concern over the coronavirus.

"We were in class one day and then on the one Thursday they were like 'alright, we're done with school,'" said Collin Laffin, Buchberger’s freshman roommate.

Sunday, Buchberger and Laffin were back in their native Wausau, which is not how they envisioned the end of their first year away from home.

"They told us two or three days ago that we were going to be online for the rest of the year. Definitely people are surprised, and sad too, because they're leaving some of their friends that they met this year," Buchberger said.

The freshmen weren’t sure what each online class would entail yet. Before students left, professors shared in their uncertainty about virtual learning.

"They weren't happy about it, because they've never practiced to be online teachers, so they don't know what to do just as much as us. They have to figure out what they're going to do and how they're going to teach their course. I’m sure they’ll be very helpful, because they know that we’re going to struggle as much as they’re going to struggle," Buchberger said.

While they understand why they have to be home, they said it was hard leaving the college experience behind, a sentiment echoed across campus.

"Honestly kind of depressing. We planned on being here until May, now we have to leave in March," Laffin said.

"As a freshman, you’ve gotta live in the dorms, and you definitely get your group in your hall and you hang out with them quite a bit, almost every day. It's definitely weird because as a freshman, that's what you're getting used to, that's what kind of helped bring you in to the college and help you get closer with everybody," Buchberger said.

It's certainly a year they won't forget.

"Obviously something like this has never happened, when we tell our kids this when we're older, we're going to... it's just going to be something crazy to everybody," he said.