UW Set to Move to Phase 3 of Fall Return Monday

The University of Wyoming will move to Phase 3 of its fall return plan Monday, with more on-campus classes and activities — along with heightened efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

During Phase 2, which began Sept. 15, face-to-face instruction has only been available for first-year seminars and some graduate courses, with all other courses delivered online. Starting Monday, there will be an expanded mix of on-campus and hybrid instruction; campus buildings will open to the fullest capacity possible; and some in-person activities will take place.

All will be done in accordance with UW’s COVID-19 policy, which requires wearing of face protection on campus, except when in private spaces; physical distancing; use of the COVID Pass tool; regular testing; and enhanced cleaning measures across campus.

“We are delighted to be in a position to begin providing a rich on-campus experience for many of our students. A great deal of effort has been made to get us to this point, and I express my deepest appreciation to everyone for making this possible,” President Ed Seidel says. “But, in many respects, our biggest challenge begins now. In order to successfully have eight full weeks of in-person instruction and activity on campus, all of us must recommit ourselves to the basic behaviors that science has shown will limit the transmission of the virus: wearing face protection; maintaining appropriate distance to the degree possible; using proper hygiene practices; complying with testing and self-screening requirements; and avoiding gatherings where the requirements are not followed.”

Testing, tracing and isolation/quarantine remain an important part of the phased return plan. For the first two and a half weeks of Phase 3, the university will continue to use its bridge testing program through Vault Health. Students in on-campus classes; a sample of faculty members engaged in in-person instruction; and many staff members working on campus will receive emails to schedule weekly appointments to provide saliva samples at the sample collection site, which is being moved from the Wyoming Union Gardens to the Wyoming Union Ballroom.

About 6,000 tests will be administered weekly until mid-October, when the university’s full surveillance testing program will begin. Under that program, students in Albany County, and employees who are on campus and not able to maintain physical distancing, will be required to be tested at least once per week. Other employees will be able to opt in to the surveillance testing. Those saliva tests will be processed at UW’s Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, allowing for faster results.

“Our experience so far this semester has shown that robust testing, tracing and quarantine/isolation measures — combined with appropriate personal conduct — give us the best opportunity to avoid a major outbreak that would cause us to have to end our in-person experiences,” Seidel says. “This is one of the most advanced testing programs of any university in the country, and it will help us be safe. But it will only succeed if we all comply individually with the testing requirements — in the same way we follow the guidelines and requirements regarding face protection, distancing and appropriate gatherings.”

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