UW prepares for potential pause to fall plan, reports seven new COVID-19 cases


Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]

LARAMIE, WYOMING (August 31, 2020) —  The University of Wyoming has established the parameters for pausing its phased fall return plan in the event of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases.

Such a pause, which would be triggered by hitting certain metrics detailed in the COVID contingency plan approved by UW’s Board of Trustees, would be a period of five business days to allow university leaders to collect additional information about the presence of the infection on campus. UW President Ed Seidel then would determine the next steps, such as returning to the phased fall return plan or shifting to a fully virtual environment.

Under the pause plan, which may be found here, the university would take 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 would be conducted.

— Instructing 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.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=20]


“In many respects, a pause would be similar to the actions the university took when the pandemic hit in March, with one major exception: We would ask our students to stay put for five business days, in the hope that the pause could be lifted,” Seidel says. “We believe it could be possible to resume our fall return plan after a pause, based upon our rigorous testing, tracing and quarantine protocols and what we’re seeing at some other universities that have taken a similar approach.”

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

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

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

If a pause is initiated between now and this coming weekend — when many first-time students are scheduled to move into UW’s residence halls for the scheduled start of Phase 2 Monday, Sept. 7 — those students will still be allowed to move in as scheduled.

Under a pause, UW laboratories and other research facilities would 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. UW’s Early Care and Education Center would continue to operate, in part to provide child care for critical pause personnel.

Also during a pause, UW would continue its surveillance testing of students and employees on campus. And all members of the community would still be expected to complete the COVID Pass daily.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=23]


UW’s fall semester classes began Aug. 24 with online course delivery. The phased return plan calls for some students to return to campus by Monday, Sept. 7, when some in-person instruction begins. By Sept. 28, all students return for eight full weeks of face-to-face instruction in courses scheduled for that mode of delivery.

More information about the revised fall return is available at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available.

Those with questions may also call 307-766-COVD (2683) or email [email protected].

Seven cases of COVID-19 have been detected among members of the University of Wyoming community in the past five days, all but one of them off-campus.

That brings the total of UW-related cases since the pandemic began to 75, as reported through pre-return testing of over 12,000 UW students and employees; testing conducted by UW’s Student Health Service; and self-reporting by students and employees tested by other providers.

The number of active cases, meanwhile, dropped from 30 on Aug. 26 to 26 at present, as 49 individuals have recovered. Of the current active cases, one is a student living on campus; 19 are students living off-campus, and six are UW employees living off-campus.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=71]

The new cases reported in the past five days are the one student living on campus; two employees in Laramie; and four students living off-campus.

The university is using a third-party provider, Vault Health, to conduct the pre-return testing, as well as random-sample “bridge” testing of students and employees on campus as part of Phase 1 of UW’s phased return plan. As of today, 12,779 tests have been processed by Vault Health, 959 of those as part of the bridge testing. A small number of employees and students have taken the test twice.

Testing is one of three key components of UW’s plan to allow for an on-campus experience this fall, along with contact tracing and quarantine/isolation of individuals who are exposed or infected.

Under the university’s COVID policy, all employees who test positive — on-campus or off-campus — are required to report those results. Those who receive a positive test result from a private provider should call UW’s COVID Hotline at 307-766-COVD (2683) or email [email protected].

 [bsa_pro_ad_space id=78]