UW COVID-19 cases trigger pause to fall semester return plan

Photo credit to the University of Wyoming website

Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]

LARAMIE, WYOMING (September 2, 2020) — The University of Wyoming (UW) has paused its phased fall return plan for a five-day period to more fully assess the prevalence of COVID-19 infection among the UW community.

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The pause was triggered by positive COVID-19 test results of five students who were exhibiting symptoms of the infection Wednesday, September 2. The rapid tests were conducted at UW’s Student Health Service. UW expects to receive other test results this evening.

The COVID contingency plan previously approved by UW’s Board of Trustees directs that five or more positive tests of symptomatic individuals among UW students and employees in Laramie in a single day would prompt a pause of five business days. By the end of that period Wednesday, September 9, UW President Ed Seidel will determine the next steps, such as returning to the phased fall return plan or shifting to a fully virtual environment.

“This pause is necessary for us to gather information and gain a more complete picture of what’s happening with the virus at UW. We have planned and prepared for this possibility and are ready to evaluate and work toward resuming in-person operations,” Seidel says. “Our sincere hope is that it will be possible to resume our fall return plan after this pause, based upon the rigorous testing, tracing, and quarantine protocols we have put in place to protect the health and safety of our students, employees, and the broader community.”

Under the pause plan, which may be found here, UW is taking steps that include:

— Instructing students in UW campus housing and others in Laramie to shelter in place.

— Delivering all courses online. No in-person classes will be conducted during the five-day period.

— Directing all employees, with the exception of those designated by supervisors as critical pause personnel, to work remotely.

— Suspending all face-to-face activities, unless approval is given through an exception process.

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UW students are being instructed to have contact with only members of their “pods” during a pause. For a student in UW’s residence halls, a pod consists of all students on that student’s floor. For students living off-campus, or in UW apartments, a pod consists of those living together in the same dwelling.

UW Residence Life and Dining Services is making arrangements for foodservice and activities for residence hall students during the pause.

“From both public health and academic standpoints, we’re asking our students in the residence halls to hang in there during this pause,” Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Chestnut says. “This shelter-in-place approach is only temporary, and we should know within five business days whether we’re resuming our phased return plan — which is our hope — or going fully online as we did in the spring.”

Students in the residence halls who have jobs or other off-campus responsibilities are being allowed to leave for those duties.

UW first-time students who are moving into residence halls this weekend are being allowed to move in as scheduled, but they’re being instructed to follow the pod requirements when they arrive. In-person instruction of those students’ first-year seminars — which was scheduled to begin Monday, September 7, as the start of Phase 2 of UW’s fall return plan — will now be delayed, and online instruction will continue during the pause.

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No on-campus visits or hosting are allowed by students, employees, or researchers during the pause. Most campus facilities are closed, with the exceptions of the Early Care and Education Center, the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic in the Health Sciences Building, and the Psychology Clinic in the Biological Sciences Building.

Additionally, UW’s Student Health Service (307-766-2130) continues to operate, including testing of students. The Wyoming Union remains open for UW’s random-sample testing program, as UW is continuing its surveillance testing of students and employees on campus during the pause. All members of the community are still expected to complete the COVID Pass daily.

UW laboratories and other research facilities continue to conduct research activities while reducing lab and facility personnel to limit the spread of COVID-19, as was done in the spring at the start of the pandemic.

Athletic facilities remain open for necessary activities, including the athletic training table, sports medicine, and sports performance. Practices and workouts continue in a modified fashion.

UW’s fall semester classes began August 24, with online course delivery under UW’s phased return plan.

More information about the pause is available at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. During the pause, UW plans to provide daily email updates on the latest developments. Those with questions may also call 307-766-COVD (2683), or email [email protected].

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