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UW sets plan for summer semester

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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LARAMIE, Wyo. (Release) - The University of Wyoming is preparing to ease some COVID-19 requirements but maintain others this summer as it transitions to a traditional fall 2021 semester.

Starting May 8, masks will no longer be required outdoors on campus, and employees who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to travel with no requirement for COVID-19 testing.

Additionally, with widespread availability of vaccines and relatively low infection numbers, UW employees who’ve been working remotely amid the pandemic will begin moving back to their offices June 7. And, the university’s requirement for students and employees spending time on campus to be tested for the virus at least once per week will be lifted July 1, as will use of the COVID Pass.

At this point, remaining in place for the summer will be the requirement to wear masks indoors, except when individuals are alone in their offices and other personal spaces; and requirements for distancing at events and gatherings, with numbers of people held at no more than 50 percent of facilities’ capacity. Masks will be required for indoor gatherings and recommended, but not required at outdoor gatherings.

UW officials will continue to assess those requirements and others -- informed by guidance from state and federal agencies -- on a weekly basis before and during the summer term.

“While we’re not in a position to completely return to a pre-pandemic environment this summer, these changes will move us that much closer to where we plan to be when the fall semester starts Aug. 23,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “We’re confident that, combined with widespread availability and acceptance of COVID vaccines, the continuation of some measures this summer will allow us to be back fully in person this fall with even fewer restrictions -- barring a dramatic, unexpected development such as an outbreak of some new dangerous COVID variant that is resistant to the new vaccines.”

UW announced March 26 that it’s proceeding with plans for face-to-face classes at maximum capacity this fall, along with face-to-face student engagement programs, in-person athletics experiences and the like. UW’s Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to “fully reopen” the university “consistent with the health policy guidelines and directives of the state and federal governments regarding COVID-19.”

For the fall semester, a much higher percentage of classes will be conducted face to face, and it’s expected that distancing and gathering requirements will be eased. It’s not yet certain whether there will continue to be a requirement for face protection indoors this fall.

UW’s surveillance testing program, which has played a key role in the university’s COVID-19 response, will end June 30. However, diagnostic tests will still be available for asymptomatic employees, students and the public at no cost after that date.

Employee travel and workplace location

While employee travel this summer no longer will need to be deemed “mission critical” and receive vice president approval, employees who are not vaccinated will be directed to follow federal guidance on travel -- including being tested prior to trips and recommended quarantining upon return.

While employees currently working remotely will start returning to their pre-pandemic workplaces June 7, the university anticipates implementing a more flexible work policy, including allowing flexible hours and some remote work if it maximizes productivity and effectiveness for the benefit of individual units and the university. Supervisors will have the opportunity for training on management of employees who work remotely.

Vaccinations strongly encouraged

The university continues to strongly encourage its students and employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Vaccines are now available to everyone age 16 and over in Albany County and across Wyoming.

As of Friday, close to 14,000 county residents -- including many UW employees and students -- had received at least the first dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine through the county’s vaccination program, a collaborative effort of Albany County Public Health, UW and Ivinson Memorial Hospital.

Under the current vaccination phase, the Albany County Vaccine Clinic and other local providers are administering the Pfizer (age 16 and up) and Moderna (age 18 and up) vaccines by appointment. UW students should keep in mind that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each require two doses several weeks apart, so those not planning to return to Laramie this spring or summer should be vaccinated in their home communities.

“Vaccinations truly are the key to putting the pandemic behind us. Shown to be safe and highly effective, they are a major triumph of science in the public service,” says Seidel, who received his second dose of the Moderna vaccine earlier this month. “As more and more of our students, faculty and staff are vaccinated, our ability to remove restrictions will increase, and our fully in-person fall semester will have a great chance of being the pre-pandemic type of experience we all remember and long for.”

There are several options to schedule appointments in Albany County:

-- Albany County Vaccine Clinic -- Individuals who have signed up for a My Health Connection account will have the opportunity to self-schedule a vaccination appointment. Due to appointment availability, scheduling links will be randomized within the system and sent to individuals. Individuals can continue to call the Albany County Vaccine Call Center to schedule at (307) 766-8222 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Due to high call volumes, individuals should remain patient and try again at a later time if their calls do not go through initially.

-- Walmart Pharmacy -- Walmart has received a federal allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Walmart website to schedule appointments.

-- Walgreens Pharmacy -- Walgreens has received a federal allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Walgreens website to schedule appointments.

-- Pole Mountain Pharmacy -- Pole Mountain has received a county allotment for the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals can visit the Pole Mountain website to schedule appointments.

-- Approved health care clinics -- Stitches Acute Care, Laramie Pediatrics, Albany Community Health Clinic, Ivinson Medical Group, the Downtown Clinic and Family Physicians of Laramie have received a limited supply of vaccines. Patients of these clinics can call their provider offices to learn about vaccine availability.

Those who need assistance to travel for their vaccinations may request rides by calling UW Transit and Parking Services at (307) 766-7433. Requests should be scheduled in advance, if possible. Callers should indicate if the transportation is vaccination related and if any special accommodations are needed.

Reporting vaccinations

While vaccinations are not required for UW students and employees, students and employees must report their vaccinations once they’ve received them -- to allow the university to track overall vaccination numbers.

Students who receive their COVID-19 vaccinations should upload documentation to the Student Health Service patient portal as soon as their vaccine series is complete. This is as simple as taking a photo of your vaccination document and uploading the picture here: http://patientportal.uwyo.edu, using your regular UW user ID and password.

For employees, a quick reference guide has been created to help record this information within HCM.

As of Monday, the total number of active COVID-19 cases among UW students and employees stood at 48 -- 33 students living off campus, eight students living on campus and seven employees.

More information about UW’s COVID-19 response can be found at www.uwyo.edu/campus-return, which is being updated as information becomes available. Those with questions about testing and other COVID-19 issues may call (307) 766-COVD (2683) or email COVID19@uwyo.edu.

Questions specifically about the vaccine should be emailed to COVIDVX@uwyo.edu. A UW vaccine webpage has been established at www.uwyo.edu/alerts/campus-return/vaccination.

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