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University of Wyoming To Resume In-Person Classes Tuesday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming will end its pause on in-person classes and resume its phased fall return plan Tuesday, university officials announced Monday.

This follows a pause of nearly two-weeks in efforts to return students to classroom that was prompted by an outbreak of coronavirus cases among the campus community. On Tuesday, the university will begin phase two of its return plan, with the start of face-to-face instruction of first-year seminars.

These classes were originally slated to begin in person on Sept. 7, along with some pharmacy and certain graduate courses. Students now allowed on campus include all of those allowed into university facilities during the first phase of the return plan, along with all first-year students living in residence halls, freshmen taking first-year seminars, all law students, students in the Literacy Research Center and Clinic and first-year pharmacy students.

Testing of employees and students on campus will continue as campus buildings gradually reopen in the near future.

During all steps toward full reopening this fall, everyone on the UW campus is required to wear face protection and practice 6-foot physical distancing, as outlined in the university’s COVID policy.

UW President Ed Seidel said in a news release the pause allowed the UW to more thoroughly review the test data it was receiving and take the action necessary to slow transmission of the virus.

“Now, we’re ready to resume the phased return plan, with additional measures in place to keep the campus as safe as possible,” he said. “For us to avoid another pause and proceed to the next phase Sept. 28, everyone — on campus or off — must adhere to those measures and avoid large off-campus gatherings where distancing and/or face protection are not employed.”

Seidel noted that while the traditional student-age population may not be as susceptible to complications from the coronavirus people of other ages, many of the members of the communities that support campus life include people at higher risk.

“It is UW’s responsibility to take into consideration all our community members in the requests of everyone to wear face protection, maintain distancing and follow safe practices at off-campus gatherings,” Seidel said. “For us to be successful, UW’s infrastructure has to be kept healthy, and it takes everyone to achieve this at the highest level possible.”

Since Friday, there have been 27 new cases of coronavirus reported among UW students and employees. All but four of them were detected in the university’s bridge testing program of asymptomatic individuals by Vault Health, which experienced a backlog of tests due to the Labor Day holiday and last week’s inclement weather.

Twenty of the new cases are students, while seven are employees. Three students living off-campus who were exhibiting symptoms, and one without symptoms, were found to be infected in tests conducted by external providers.

That brings the total number of active cases among the UW community to 93: 16 students living on-campus, 64 students living off-campus and 13 employees living off-campus. Some 175 people are in 14-day quarantine due to exposure to infected individuals: 27 on-campus and 148 off-campus.

The total number of coronavirus cases among UW students and employees since the pandemic began is 171.

“We know the virus is here, but we have been able to manage it in a manner that has kept our campus relatively safe,” Seidel said. “As the situation has changed rapidly and our understanding of the disease is growing, we’re developing new indicators and tactics to stay on top of it at UW. Everything we have done has one goal, and that is to be able to safely provide an in-person campus experience for the UW community.”

During the university’s next phase, scheduled for Sept. 28 through Nov. 20, all students will be welcome on campus, and courses will be delivered with a mixture of in-person and online instruction. In-person student activities will be expanded, and many campus buildings will be open, including Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center.

The university will operate a surveillance testing program under which all students, faculty and staff who come to campus will take saliva tests at least once a week.

During phase four, scheduled for Nov. 23 through Dec. 11, all courses and final exams will be conducted online. Students will leave the residence halls, except for those granted exceptions.

Campus buildings will shift to restricted access, and the surveillance testing program will continue for those remaining on campus.

UW Allowing Students To Withdraw, Receive Full Refund Due To Paused Return

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

After extending its pause to efforts to resume in-person classes, the University of Wyoming is allowing students to withdraw and receive a full refund for this semester’s courses.

The university announced this decision in a news release Thursday. Students can either withdraw and receive a refund or put their enrollment off until the spring semester.

“We understand the complexity of the situation created by COVID-19 and, with the extension of the pause, we are allowing students extra time to request a full refund if they choose to defer enrollment or withdraw through Sept. 15,” Interim Provost Anne Alexander said in the release. “Of course, we don’t want any students to withdraw unless absolutely necessary but, in the event it is best for that student, we want to be as helpful as possible.”

Before students request a withdrawal, they’re encouraged to view the online resources available to them here. The resources such as online tutoring and remote access to the contents of the university’s library, are designed to help students throughout their UW careers but may be especially helpful now if students decide to continue their fall courses online. The Dean of Students office is prepared to assist students in locating existing opportunities for support and assistance.

The five-day pause to the fall return plan will end Monday, when UW President Ed Seidel will determine the next steps to be taken, which could include resuming the phased fall return plan or shifting to a fully virtual environment.

“With that in mind, you may still want to wait until the pause has ended to make your decision,” Alexander said. “But, if you are interested in withdrawing, please complete the withdrawal request form through the Dean of Students Office.”

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Internationally Recognized Archaeologist George Frison Dies At 95

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Noted Wyoming archaeologist George Frison, founder of the University of Wyoming’s Department of Anthropology, has died at the age of 95.

The university reported Frison died Sunday in Laramie.

Frison, the only UW faculty member ever elected to the National Academy of Science, was a Worland native credited with building the UW Department of Anthropology into a widely respected institution.

“Our department would be a shadow of its current self if not for his efforts,” said Todd Surovell, the department’s current director. “He easily ranks among the greatest field archaeologists in the history of American archaeology, having excavated several major sites in Wyoming, Colorado and Montana. Dr. Frison’s contributions to the field of archaeology, the Department of Anthropology, the University of Wyoming and the state of Wyoming cannot be overstated.”

Frison was born in Worland in 1924 and grew up on his grandparents’ ranch near Ten Sleep, where he split his time between working livestock, searching for arrowheads and exploring caves in the Big Horn Mountains.

He enrolled in the UW in 1942, but left the university to enlist in the U.S. Navy, where he served in the South Pacific during Worland War II. He returned to the family ranch after being honorably discharged in 1946.

Still interested in archaeology, Frison joined the Wyoming Archaeological Society, where he worked with a UW professor who encouraged him to return to the university for his degree. He enrolled in 1962, finished his undergraduate work and then went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.

Frison returned to the University of Wyoming in 1967 to head the Department of Anthropology and later served as Wyoming’s first state archaeologist.

He was recognized internationally as an expert in the prehistory of the northwestern Great Plains, writing about topics such as bison bone beds, Paleoindian mammoth hunters and chipped stone technology.

Frison retired from the Anthropology Department in 1995, but continued to serve as professor emeritus.

“Well into his 90s, George came into his lab every day until last spring — and then, only deterred because of the pandemic,” said Anne Alexander, the university’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “His legacy is profound and he put Wyoming on the map for archaeology. He is a legitimate legend.”

Frison won many awards from a number of institutions including a lifetime achievement award from the Society for American Archaeology, a fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution and the university’s George Duke Humphrey Distinguished Faculty Award.

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University of Wyoming Stays Closed For Five More Days After COVID Cases Increase

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming’s pause on efforts to resume in-person classes will continue until at least Monday, President Ed Seidel announced Wednesday afternoon.

According to a release from the university, the extension is necessary for UW leaders to analyze results from the university’s on-campus coronavirus testing program to understand the level of virus transmission over Labor Day weekend.

“While we continue to detect new cases — which is worrisome — the pause has enabled us to effectively slow the spread of the virus,” Seidel said in the release. “That provides some encouragement for our ability to resume our fall return plan, but only if what happened over Labor Day weekend does not result in a spike in cases.”

The pause last week was triggered by positive coronaivurs test results of seven students who were exhibiting symptoms of the infection Sept. 2.

As of Wednesday, the the number of active cases among the university community was 70; 14 students living on-campus, 53 students living off-campus and three employees living off-campus.

Around 130 other people, 23 on-campus and 107 off-campus, are in a two-week quarantine because they were in close contact with people who tested positive.

The total number of coronavirus cases among UW students and employees since the pandemic began is 141.

During the pause, details of which may be found here, the university is taking steps that include:

  • Instructing students in UW campus housing and others in Laramie to shelter in place;
  • Delivering all courses online;
  • Directing all employees, with the exception of those designated by supervisors as critical pause personnel, to work remotely, and
  • Suspending all face-to-face activities, unless approval is given through an exception process.

UW Residence Life and Dining Services is making arrangements for food service and activities for residence hall students during the pause. Students in the residence halls who have jobs or other off-campus responsibilities are being allowed to leave for those duties.

A little more than 1,000 students are currently in the residence halls and around 400 more are waiting until the end of the pause to come to campus.

“So far, the on-campus experience appears to be relatively safe, and we appreciate the adherence of our students in the residence halls to the pause restrictions,” Seidel said “Unfortunately, it appears that some of our students off-campus are not doing the same, based upon community observations and the relatively high number of cases among those students. If that situation doesn’t change, it seriously jeopardizes the opportunity to implement our full phased return plan for the fall semester.”

No on-campus visits to students, employees or researchers during the pause are being allowed. Most campus facilities are closed.

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In-Person Classes At UW On Hold After COVID Cases Increase

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming has paused its plan for resuming to in-person classes due to a surge of active coronavirus cases among its community this week, the university announced late Wednesday.

The pause is in effect for at least five business days to fully assess the prevalence of the coronavirus infection among UW students, faculty and staff, university officials said in a news release.

The pause was triggered by positive coronavirus tests among five students who were exhibiting symptoms of the virus on Wednesday.

By the end of the pause period on Sept. 9, UW President Ed Seidel will determine whether the university will take the next steps for returning to the phased fall plan for in-person education or shift to online classes completely.

The contingency plan for a pause in the return to in-person classes was previously approved by the university’s board of trustees and directs that five or more positive tests of symptomatic individuals among UW students and employees in Laramie in a single day will prompt a pause of five business days.

“This pause is necessary for us to gather information and gain a more complete picture of what’s happening with the virus at UW. We have planned and prepared for this possibility and are ready to evaluate and work toward resuming in-person operations,” Seidel said in a news release. “Our sincere hope is that it will be possible to resume our fall return plan after this pause, based upon the rigorous testing, tracing and quarantine protocols we have put in place to protect the health and safety of our students, employees and broader community.”

Under the pause plan, new guidelines include:

  • Students in UW campus housing and in Laramie should shelter in place;
  • All courses will be delivered online during the five-day period;
  • All employees, with the exception of those designated as critical “pause” personnel, should work remotely;
  • All face-to-face activities are suspended unless approval is given through an exception process;

UW students are instructed to have contact with members of their “pods” during a pause. For example, students living in a residence hall would only contact students who share their floor.

Students living off-campus or in UW apartments are instructed to only contact those in the same dwelling.

Residence Life and Dining Services are making arrangements for food service and activities for residence hall students during the pause.

“From both public health and academic standpoints, we’re asking our students in the residence halls to hang in there during this pause,” Vice President for Student Affairs Kim Chestnut said in a news release. “This shelter-in-place approach is only temporary, and we should know within five business days whether we’re resuming our phased return plan — which is our hope — or going fully online as we did in the spring.”

Students in the residence halls who have jobs or other off-campus responsibilities are allowed to leave for those duties.

UW first-time students who are moving into residence halls over the weekend are allowed to move in as scheduled, but are instructed to follow the pod requirements when they arrive.

In-person instruction of those students’ first-year seminars – which was scheduled to begin Monday, as the start of Phase 2 of UW’s fall return plan – will now be delayed, and online instruction will continue.

No students, employees or researchers will be allowed to host on-campus visits by during the pause.

Most campus facilities are closed, with these exceptions: the Early Care and Education Center; the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory; the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic in the Health Sciences Building; and the Psychology Clinic in the Biological Sciences Building.

UW laboratories and other research facilities continue to conduct research activities while reducing lab and facility personnel to limit the spread of coronavirus, as was done in the spring at the start of the pandemic.

Athletic facilities remain open for necessary activities, including the athletic training table, sports medicine and sports performance. Practices and workouts continue in a modified fashion.

UW’s fall semester classes began Aug. 24 with online course delivery under the university’s phased return plan.

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47 UW Students Quarantined After Being Exposed To COVID

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

In the wake of parties that left 47 University of Wyoming students quarantined after coming in contact with the coronavirus, the university is cracking down on student parties where attendees fail to observe COVID-19 precautions.

University spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily that the UW is paying more attention to student parties where people do not take sufficient steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus and may take action against those hosting or attending such events.

“Our vice president of Student Affairs (Kimberly Chestnut) said this is not our normal course,” Baldwin said. “We are not normally monitoring off-campus gatherings But these are unusual times and circumstances. For us to have a chance to have a successful semester, we have to do this.”

The development followed news Tuesday that 47 students had been quarantined since Monday because they were exposed to people with confirmed cases of coronavirus at social gatherings over the weekend.

The university has launched inquiries into the parties, Baldwin said, and will pursue “student conduct proceedings” against students found to have hosted or attended the parties. Those students will be on an interim suspension and will not be able to attend classes until the cases are resolved.

If found guilty of hosting parties, students can be suspended or permanently dismissed, while those attending parties can be placed on probation or suspended.

“Basically, where students were at off-campus events where the rules regarding COVID were being flouted, we intend to pursue some action,” Baldwin said. “This is a recognition that college campuses are particularly problematic when it comes to the spread of COVID and we have an impact on our community. We have a responsibility to minimize that impact.”

The university also announced that any students who host or attend “COVID parties” with the intent of spreading the virus may be permanently dismissed from the university.

Baldwin said there is no evidence that such parties are being held at the UW, but officials are responding to rumors of such parties being held at other colleges in the country.

The university is not cracking down on all parties, Baldwin said, only those where safety precautions are being ignored.

“We understand this is asking for a departure in behavior from college students,” he said. “Basically, if you can distance and wear a mask and you’re not passing around drinks or doing buffet-style food service, you’re probably OK.”

“It’s where there’s a very clear disregard for those measures where we’re going to crack down.”

The university has one of the lowest coronavirus infection rates among colleges nationally, Baldwin said, with 28 active cases, and the university would like to keep those numbers low.

“We have to stay on top of this stuff,” he said.

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UW, Casper College Report More Active Coronavirus Cases

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The coronavirus has been reported among students, faculty or staff at two colleges in Wyoming.

The University of Wyoming reported that seven coronavirus cases were detected among the university population during the first week of classes, all but one of the cases diagnosed in people who live off-campus.

Casper College reported three active cases, two students and one employee. The students were confirmed new positive cases the week of Aug. 22, while the employee was confirmed to be positive the week of Aug. 15.

UW has now seen 75 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March. With the recovery of 49 of those patients, the active case count at the UW stands at 26 as of Monday.

Of the current active cases at the university, one is a student living on campus, 19 are students living off-campus and six are university employees living off-campus.

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

As of Monday, 12,779 tests have been processed by Vault Health at UW. A small number of employees and students have taken the test twice.

Casper College won’t report information in addition to the number of new and active cases on campus. No new information was posted Friday, which is when the college had earlier said it would update its coronavirus information.

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Dave Walsh To No Longer Call Cowboy Basketball Games

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By Cody Tucker, 7220 Sports

LARAMIE — Dave Walsh has been courtside inside the Arena-Auditorium, calling Wyoming basketball games for the past 36 seasons.

That will come to an end in 2020.

The “Voice of the Cowboys” will remain as the play-by-play broadcaster for UW football, but will step aside on the hardwood.

“I want everyone to know how honored I am to have had the opportunity to serve as the voice of both Cowboy Football and Basketball for all these years,” Walsh said in a release.

“I’ve really enjoyed calling Cowboy Basketball the last 36 years, but it’s time for me to start cutting back. I’m very excited to continue to call and concentrate on Cowboy Football. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Wyoming fans, student-athletes, coaches and the UW Athletics Department as the voice of Wyoming Football,” he said.

Sources have told 7220sports.com that Walsh will take on a role during home basketball broadcasts.

Reece Monaco, who has announced Cowgirl basketball games for nearly two decades and hosts football pregame shows, will replace Walsh on the play-by-play call. Monaco has also spent the past nine seasons as the sideline reporter for Cowboy football.

The Billings, Montana, native, has worked in Cheyenne for 1240 KFBC for nearly two decades.

Keith Kelley Monday was named the Cowgirls’ new play-by-play voice. Kelly has been the sports director at Cheyenne-based KFBC for more than 10 years. Kelley has served as a broadcaster for high school sports around the Cheyenne area. He has also called UW games in the past, most notably Wyoming’s home football game against Wofford in 2018.

“Dave Walsh is one of the top college play-by-play announcers in the country, and we have been fortunate that he made Wyoming home over three decades ago,” said Tom Burman, University of Wyoming Athletics Director.  “We are extremely happy that he has decided to continue his involvement with Wyoming Athletics, and we know fans will be excited to hear that, as well.”

Walsh, along with color commentator Kevin McKinney, have partnered for more than two decades in the radio booth. Known for his trademark victory call “The score, oh, the score,” Walsh was inducted into the University of Wyoming Hall of Fame in 2016. The San Diego native was also added to the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015. Walsh is a nine-time Wyoming Sportscaster of the Year.

Walsh has been the school’s play-by-play broadcaster since 1985. Walsh was the color commentator for fellow UW Hall of Famer Curt Gowdy in 1984.

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One-Third Of UW CARES Money To Go To Out-Of-State Students

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than half of the University of Wyoming’s student population applied for and will receive at least some of the CARES Act funding Gov. Mark Gordon made available earlier this month, spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily this week.

Of the 6,256 grant applications received, 2,096 were from out state, most of them undergraduate students. This was 33% of the applications received.

Gordon announced earlier this month that full-time undergraduate and graduate level students, including both resident and non-resident students, will receive up to $3,250 for the fall semester to help cover non-tuition school costs.

To be eligible for the grant, students must be U.S. citizens and be financially impacted by the coronavirus.

Baldwin also provided numbers that showed the applications for admission to the University of Wyoming submitted in the two-week period between Aug. 10 and 24 doubled compared to the numbers submitted during the same period in in 2018 and 2019.

The university received applications from 265 students, all of whom were admitted, over the two-week period between the announcement of the grant program and the start of classes Monday. Just over a quarter of those applicants, 76, applied for the CARES grant, 70 of them residents and only six non-residents.

“As you can see, the response since announcing the CARES funding on Aug. 10 has been incredibly positive,” Baldwin said.

It should be noted that the money is prorated dependent on how many credit hours a student is taking at the university. If a student is enrolled full-time, he or she will receive the full grant.

Non-resident students were required to be enrolled in at least one face-to-face course for the semester to be eligible for the grant.

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UW Athletics Dept To Lose $15 Million With Cancellation of Football

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Published with permission from 7220.com

LARAMIE — In a 2:10 video posted to social media Wednesday, Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman called the ongoing cornavirus pandemic the “greatest adversity we have ever faced.”

That could be a giant understatement.

UW’s athletic department is set to lose upward of $15 million after the Mountain West Conference announced nearly two weeks ago that the league would postpone all fall sports, including the cash cow, football.

That means no television money, no butts in the seats, hot dogs, beers or ticket sales, among many other amenities.

What does that boil down to?

Less funding for scholarships, food, travel, medical care, uniforms and other needs for the university’s 400-plus student-athletes.

“Now is thew time to support our student athletes like never before,” Burman says in the video entitled, “WHYoming NOW.”

In roughly 48 hours, UW supporters — 141 donors, to be exact — have raised $183,731 of a million-dollar goal set by the school.

“In response to the financial challenges ahead, UW Athletics is launching the WHYoming NOW campaign,” says a press release issued by the university. “By giving to WHYoming NOW, you will be protecting the future of our student-athletes, alumni and fans and will be helping to maintain the proud tradition of Cowboy and Cowgirl Athletics that has been built over decades. Current projections show that a revenue loss approaching $15 million is possible, which would negatively impact the future of Wyoming Athletics.”

Another surprise source of income has come from Wyoming season ticket holders. According to Davis Potter of the Casper Star Tribune, fans have allowed the school to keep roughly $120,000 in ticket sales.

Burman mentions in the video above that “tough decisions will have to be made” if the school can’t replace funds lost in the fall. That could include furloughs in the athletic department, cuts in budgets and the loss of certain sports. The University of Iowa Thursday discontinued men’s gymnastics, both swimming and diving teams and men’s tennis.

“I know the Wyoming community will respond and we will get the job done,” Burman said.

If you want to donate to University of Wyoming athletics, you can do that right HERE.

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