UW Develops Set of Indicators, Tactics to Guide COVID-19 Decisions

As the University of Wyoming moves forward with its phased return plan for the fall semester, it has developed a set of indicators to be monitored daily to inform decisions related to COVID-19.

The indicators, along with potential tactics to consider when certain thresholds are met, will be presented Thursday to the UW Board of Trustees by President Ed Seidel. They may be found here. The university believes this approach of indicators and tactics, coupled with the cooperation and adherence to safety measures of every member of the UW community, will enable UW to continue in-person activities throughout the fall semester.

“I am tremendously proud of how our faculty, staff and students have navigated our path to returning to the vibrant on-campus research and learning environment we value. We are committed to creating the safest possible experience for our university community,” Seidel says. “Our updated set of indicators, thresholds and tactics was developed based upon our experience with the virus at UW; the latest scientific data and guidance from universities across the country; and with the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students as our top priority. It will allow us to move forward and nimbly address new developments on a daily basis.”

The new set of indicators updates the COVID-19 contingency plan created during the summer to help UW address a spike of infections on campus. As the university emerges from a successful short-term pause in operations, Seidel asked the committee that developed the plan to revisit the contingency framework — with the benefit of information gained through the pause and the continued migration back to campus. The university also has boosted staffing in key areas, allowing consideration of more possible actions in response to specific situations.

Under the new framework, indicators to be tracked include data such as total on-campus student cases per day; UW’s capacity for isolation/quarantine; and the total number of active cases. While potential responses include another general pause, alternative options include quarantining a single residence hall or floor of a hall; shifting a specific class or event to an online venue for a period of time; or reducing density of a designated area.

“As we track these indicators, we’ll have a wide-ranging set of actions and interventions that can be taken, based on a combination of the data and the context of the evolving situation,” Seidel says. “We expect this approach will provide a set of actions that — along with the commitment of everyone to follow our policies on distancing, face protection and gatherings — will allow for us to have an on-campus experience in the safest manner possible.”

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