By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The University of Wyoming will have a mix of in-person and online courses when students return for the, its board of trustees agreed Wednesday.
The board approved a plan for students to return to campus for the fall semester, contingent upon securing funding for implementation from the federal coronavirus relief act.
Under the plan, classes will begin Aug. 24 and end Dec. 4, but students won’t return to campus after the Thanksgiving break. All courses will move to online instruction beginning Nov. 23 and final exams will take place through distance technologies.
“UW is looking forward to welcoming students back to campus for the fall semester. While the united work of everyone to go online in March resulted in a successful spring semester, the message is clear that we need to return to the on-campus experience,” Acting President Neil Theobald said in a news release. “Over the last few months, our students, staff and faculty have helped develop a plan that puts us on a path to do so as safely as is reasonably possible during the era of COVID-19.”
The plan calls for various preparations, such as:
- Faculty members and academic departments developing the best mix of in-person and online instruction, with classrooms scheduled in such a way to provide for social distancing;
- All students and employees must be tested for the coronavirus within seven to 10 days of their return to campus. The university is arranging for saliva tests to be mailed individually to students and employees before the start of the semester;
- Students and employees will have to take online coronvirus training;
- Students and employees who have developed coronvirus-like symptoms must immediately report to a health care provider, self-quarantine and submit to a test. The university is considering giving coronavirus tests at intervals throughout the fall semester to all students employees, depending on test availability and cost;
- While in communal spaces, students and employees will have to wear face coverings, which will be provided by the university. Visitors will be encouraged to do the same;
- Employees and students will have to conduct daily temperature and symptom checks and self-report through a smartphone app made available by UW;
- Extensive physical modifications will have to be made to ensure adequate social distancing and to reduce density. This may include suspending the use of small classrooms and meeting rooms, turning off communal water fountains and expanding the space between seats in rooms that are used, and
- Residence hall rooms will be converted to single rooms only and the residential dining plan will be modified to facilitate social distancing.
The plan was developed with input from the Wyoming Department of Health and is designed to be adaptable to allow for changing conditions.
“While none of us can be certain about what the fall will look like, we’re doing everything we can to prepare for as much of the traditional on-campus experience as possible,” incoming President Ed Seidel said in the news release. “We’re looking forward to a successful semester. Ultimately, its success will depend upon the personal responsibility of everyone — and our ability to take action as needed. The planning group has done a very thorough job of preparing the university for this.”