UW Waits for Testing Data, Moves Toward Resumption of Fall Return Plan
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (PRESS RELEASE) - The University of Wyoming is awaiting results of its bridge testing of on-campus employees and students this week, but no students have tested positive for COVID-19 at the UW Student Health Service clinic since Tuesday.
As a result, the total number of active cases among the UW community today (Thursday) stands at 66 -- 13 students living on campus, 50 students living off campus and three employees living off campus.
About 2,000 saliva samples from UW employees and students -- including about 400 students who moved into the residence halls over the weekend -- have been submitted as part of UW’s bridge testing program through Vault Health this week. But few results have been reported back to the university at this point, due to the Labor Day holiday; they’re expected to begin arriving in the next day. Other laboratories were closed for the Monday holiday as well, although UW Student Health Service was open.
Meanwhile, Student Health Service and other local providers continue to conduct tests of students reporting symptoms of COVID-19, and of people who’ve had contact with infected individuals. The 15 rapid tests conducted by Student Health Service Wednesday all were negative for the virus; the clinic also received 29 negative test results Wednesday night from the Wyoming Department of Health.
While the results of the bridge testing through Vault Health could change the picture, UW leaders are moving toward a resumption of the university’s phased fall return plan on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
“We extended our pause to give us more time to gather data, and that clearly is necessary because of the delay in receiving results from Vault Health,” says UW epidemiologist Brant Schumaker, who is directing the university’s testing program. “However, we’re encouraged by the drop in positive tests of symptomatic students by Student Health. We hope that’s a sign that our students, both on and off campus, are adhering to the pause restrictions.”
UW President Ed Seidel Wednesday extended the pause through Monday to allow time to make sure no significant new outbreaks are taking place. The pause was triggered by positive COVID-19 test results of seven students who were exhibiting symptoms of the infection Sept. 2.
As of mid-afternoon today, some 136 people -- 23 on campus and 113 off campus -- remain in 14-day quarantine because they were in close contact with people who tested positive. The total number of COVID-19 cases among UW students and employees since the pandemic began is 141.
Barring a significant increase in cases, Seidel says he intends for the university to move to Phase 2 of its fall return plan on Tuesday. That would involve a shift from online to face-to-face instruction for UW’s first-year seminars for freshmen, as well as some pharmacy courses. Students on campus would include all those from Phase 1, along with all first-year students in the residence halls; freshmen taking face-to-face first-year seminars; all law students; students in the Literacy Research Center and Clinic; and first-year pharmacy students. Random-sample testing would continue in this phase, and campus buildings would further reopen gradually.
Under the plan, Phase 3 would begin Sept. 28, with all students welcomed to campus and courses delivered with a mixture of in-person and online instruction. In-person student activities would be expanded, and many campus buildings would be open. The university is preparing to operate a surveillance testing program for that phase under which all students, faculty and staff who come to campus would take saliva tests at least once a week.
Meanwhile, during the extended pause, details of which may be found here, the university is taking steps through Monday 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.
-- Suspending all face-to-face activities, unless approval is given through an exception process.
UW students are instructed to have contact with only members of their “pods” during a pause. For a student in UW’s residence halls, a pod consists of all students on that student’s floor. For students living off campus or in UW apartments, a pod consists of those living together in the same dwelling.
No on-campus visits or hosting are allowed by students, employees or researchers 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.
Additionally, UW’s Student Health Service (307-766-2130) continues to operate, including testing of students. And the Wyoming Union remains open for the university’s bridge testing program, as UW is continuing its surveillance testing of students and employees on campus during the pause. All members of the community are still expected to complete the COVID Pass daily.
More information about the pause is available at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. During the pause, the university plans to provide daily email updates on the latest developments. Those with questions may also call 307-766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.
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