By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The University of Wyoming football team has gone virtual for the fall semester, with many team members choosing to take online classes to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
University spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that many of the football players have decided to take as many online classes as they could, due to an uptick in COVID cases both in Albany County and statewide.
“Due to the potential for an increased risk of transmission in a classroom setting (indoors, potential inability to social distance, mix of vaccinated/non-vaccinated people), many football student-athletes decided to take as many online classes as possible,” Baldwin said. “That said, there are still some football players who are taking classes in-person – such as upper-division classes that are only offered in-person.”
He added that 94% of the team’s members are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
University officials were insistent on the fall semester running as normally as possible. The university’s board of trustees agreed earlier this year that UW would move forward with in-person classes after more than a year of holding mostly virtual classes, with some in-person hybridization once the virus numbers lowered in the spring semester.
As of Monday, Albany County had 139 active coronavirus cases and Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie had six coronavirus patients but no available intensive care unit beds, according to the Wyoming COVID hospitalization tracker.
A total of 70 University of Wyoming students and employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the UW’s one-time testing program which started the fall semester, with the test positivity rate remaining consistent at just over 1%, according to data released by the university on Monday.
Students and UW fans will be allowed to attend football games in person this semester, a luxury that was taken away for much of the fall 2020 football season due to the pandemic.
This is in sharp contrast to the volleyball players at Eastern Wyoming College, about half of whom have either been infected with or were exposed to the virus in the last few days. The college had to cancel four upcoming games due to players being infected or exposed.