Metro Wire Staff
Students began their fall semester at UW-Stevens Point campuses in Stevens Point, Wausau, and Marshfield on Sept. 2 with a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid classes.
According to a news release from UWSP, campus staff “worked diligently through the summer” rearranging classrooms and meeting spaces to allow for physical distancing, adding plexiglass shields to areas with customer interactions, and increasing scheduled cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
All students and employees must complete an online symptom screening check daily before coming to a UWSP campus, and masks must be worn in all campus buildings. Online training was required for all employees and students, which included a “commitment to follow safety precautions,” the release said.
“Although this year brings new challenges, that is when we are at our best. While the way we work may change, our dedication to student success remains strong,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson.
A student testing plan includes protocols to diagnose and contain COVID-19 cases. Student Health Service is conducting biweekly screening tests of students living in residence halls using three Quidel antigen analyzers on campus, which produce results in 15 minutes. Students with COVID-19 symptoms, or close contacts of someone who tested positive, will be evaluated in Student Health Service. If indicated, they will have PCR testing through a partnership with Marshfield Clinic and the UW System.
Statistics for central Wisconsin and statewide show the 20-29 age group has the highest incidence of positive COVID-19 cases, Patterson said.
“This was true through much of summer when most UW-Stevens Point students were elsewhere. While this may not reverse now, we are making every effort to slow the increase,” he added. “That requires everyone’s effort—on campus and off. We expect our students to make wise choices wherever they are, and we ask community members to do the same. Each of us has a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
To further protect students, employees, and community members, most campus facilities remain closed to the public. Retail businesses in the Dreyfus University Center are open, as is Allen Center and trails at Schmeeckle Reserve. Meeting rooms have been converted to additional classrooms but are generally not available for public use.
UWSP said it has a “thorough notification process” in place, including “cleaning, quarantine, isolation, and caring for students” at all three campuses to protect students and the public when a student tests positive for COVID-19.
“The university will balance individual privacy with transparency in communicating information about positive cases,” the release said. A dashboard is on the UW-Stevens Point COVID-19 site with the number of reported cases. It will be updated daily, Monday through Friday.
“We cannot eliminate all risk or know when the pandemic will end,” Patterson said. “We do know that continuing to educate our students, helping them pursue their purpose, and taking precautions to stay safe are the best choices for all of us. We are all in this together.”