‘(We) hope you will join us in person:’ U of I tweaks plans for spring semester

The University of Idaho will add security — and might add online courses — for spring semester next month.

The university discussed its updated spring plans Monday ­— almost a month to the day after four students were found stabbed to death in an off-campus house. The unsolved homicides prompted some students to leave the campus for the remaining weeks of fall semester.

And with spring semester barely four weeks away, U of I administrators said they “cannot predict what will happen” with the ongoing investigation.

“(We) hope you will join us in person,” said Monday’s memo to students, co-signed by President C. Scott Green; Torrey Lawrence, U of I provost and executive vice president; and Blaine Eckles, dean of students and vice provost for student affairs. “But, knowing some of you are not comfortable returning to campus, we encourage you to review the many options for courses already offered online and virtually.”

While the U of I will offer on-campus spring instruction, as originally planned, online options could also be expanded.

“A limited number of sections may be added at the discretion of the colleges for some classes in which a virtual option makes sense,” administrators said.

The U of I will add security personnel for the spring, they said, while working with law enforcement “to maintain a heightened presence on campus.”

The university’s SafeRide and SafeWalk escorts will also be updated, they said, “to better support students, employees and the goals of the program.”

Administrators also said students can continue to seek mental health counseling over winter break through the U of I’s Counseling and Testing Center, and can schedule counseling through the dean of students’ office.

The U of I’s fall semester is wrapping up this week with finals. Spring semester begins on Jan. 11.

Investigation update

Entering their fifth week of the investigation, police have not identified a suspect in the deaths of Ethan Chapin, 20, a freshman from Mount Vernon, Wash.; Kaylee Goncalves, 21, a senior from Rathdrum; Xana Kernodle, 20, a junior from Post Falls; and Madison Mogen, 21, a senior from Coeur d’Alene.

The Moscow Police Department remains tight-lipped about the case.

“Investigators continue to not release detailed information,” police said in a statement Monday. “It is what must be done to preserve the integrity of the investigation.”

The investigation has turned to a car spotted near the off-campus house where the slayings occurred.

“Detectives remain interested in speaking with the occupant(s) of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra, with an unknown license plate,” Moscow police said Saturday. “Investigators believe the occupant(s) of this vehicle may have critical information to share regarding this case.”

The focus on the car has led to a spike in tips — which now are being routed to the FBI.

“Please be aware that this new call process takes patience on behalf of the caller, and there are some prompts to follow,” Moscow police said Saturday. “This is a national FBI tip line and it is important to get all the way through the prompts to reach the right agent to report information. Remember, your tip may be the key to solving this case.”

The tipline is (208) 883-7180 or [email protected].

Read more details on the investigation from the Idaho Statesman and the University of Idaho Argonaut.




Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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