UW revises plan for fall semester, moves to phased return to campus - Casper, WY Oil City News
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UW revises plan for fall semester, moves to phased return to campus

University of Wyoming Old Main (File; Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

The University of Wyoming has announced changes for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester. The University is facing opening under the pressures of social distancing amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Aiming to increase the likelihood of the University of Wyoming completing a successful fall semester with in-person experiences, the university has adopted a phased approach to bringing students back to campus,” the written statement from UW said Wednesday.

The revised fall return plan was reportedly approved Wednesday by the UW Board of Trustees.

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The semester will still begin Monday, Aug. 24, but all courses will be delivered online to start, and students who aren’t already on campus will be encouraged not to come at that time.

The plan calls for some students to return by Monday, Sept. 7, when some in-person instruction begins. By Sept. 28, all students return for eight full weeks of face-to-face instruction in courses scheduled for that mode of delivery.

All courses will move to remote delivery Nov. 23, as called for in the original fall return plan created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand that this is a significant change for our students and families, complicating decisions regarding travel and other issues,” President Ed Seidel says. “However, this approach greatly increases the likelihood of our students having an opportunity for an on-campus experience in the safest manner possible — and avoiding an outbreak during the semester that would cause an even bigger disruption.”

The University says that the phased approach was developed in response to “evolving information about COVID-19 showing that testing, contact tracing and rapid isolation — combined with measures such as requiring face protection and physical distancing — are crucial to minimize the spread of the virus on college campuses.”

All UW students and employees are being required to take free COVID-19 saliva tests before returning to campus, through a third-party company called Vault Health.

The university also is working to develop a comprehensive surveillance testing program that will involve employees and students on campus being tested twice a week during the semester. Officials with the University say that program isn’t expected to be fully operational until Sept. 28, and is cited as one of the reasons the semester will start Aug. 24 with all courses online.

Random-sample testing will take place Aug. 24-Sept. 25 for those students and employees who are on campus.

The university says they are finalizing plans for specific cohorts of students to return Sept. 7 and communicate those details beginning at a Thursday, Aug. 13, town-hall meeting, including new move-in dates for students living in UW’s residence halls.

“We know our students and families will have many questions as a result of this change to a phased start to the semester. We will be ready to answer many of them at the town-hall meeting,” Seidel says. “But I believe strongly we have a plan that gives us the best chance possible to have a successful semester during a very difficult time. That, combined with the can-do spirit we all share as UW Cowboys, gives me a strong sense of optimism for the coming academic year.”


The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:


What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.

If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.

Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.

For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: covid@cnchd.org


  • Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.