Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
LARAMIE, WYOMING (August 12, 2020) — Aiming to increase the likelihood of the University of Wyoming (UW) completing a successful fall semester with in-person experiences, UW has adopted a phased approach to bringing students back to campus.
The revised fall return plan was approved today Wednesday, August 12, by the UW Board of Trustees.
The semester will still begin Monday, August 24, but all courses will be delivered online to start, and students who aren’t already on campus will be encouraged not to come at that time. The plan calls for some students to return by Monday, September 7, when some in-person instruction begins. By Monday, September 28, all students return for eight full weeks of face-to-face instruction in courses scheduled for that mode of delivery.
All courses will move to remote delivery Monday, November 23, as called for in the original fall return plan created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We understand that this is a significant change for our students and families, complicating decisions regarding travel and other issues,” President Ed Seidel says. “However, this approach greatly increases the likelihood of our students having an opportunity for an on-campus experience in the safest manner possible — and avoiding an outbreak during the semester that would cause an even bigger disruption.”
The phased approach was developed in response to evolving information about COVID-19 showing that testing, contact tracing, and rapid isolation — combined with measures such as requiring face protection and physical distancing — are crucial to minimize the spread of the virus on college campuses.
All UW students and employees are being required to take free COVID-19 saliva tests before returning to campus, through a third-party company called Vault Health. UW also is working to develop a comprehensive surveillance testing program that will involve employees and students on campus being tested twice a week during the semester. That program isn’t expected to be fully operational until Monday, September 28, one of the reasons the semester will start Monday, August 24, with all courses online. Random-sample testing will take place Monday, August 24, through Friday, September 25, for those students and employees who are on campus.
UW is finalizing plans for specific cohorts of students to return Monday, September 7, and communicate those details beginning at a Thursday, August 13, town-hall meeting, including new move-in dates for students living in UW’s residence halls.
“We know our students and families will have many questions as a result of this change to a phased start to the semester. We will be ready to answer many of them at the town-hall meeting,” Seidel says. “But I believe strongly we have a plan that gives us the best chance possible to have a successful semester during a very difficult time. That, combined with the can-do spirit we all share as UW Cowboys, gives me a strong sense of optimism for the coming academic year.”