UW-Stevens Point welcomed students to campuses in Stevens Point, Wausau and Marshfield this week with a comprehensive plan to protect health and provide a rich educational experience.
Classes resumed Sept. 2 in a mix of in-person, online and hybrid, or combination, delivery methods.
Efforts include promoting behaviors to reduce the coronavirus spread and preparing for when someone gets sick. These strategies aim to maintain healthy communities and campuses.
Staff at all UW-Stevens Point facilities have worked diligently through the summer to safely return to campuses. Classrooms and meeting spaces were rearranged to allow for physical distancing, “sneeze shields” were added to areas with customer interactions and cleaning and disinfecting procedures increased, as did signage to modify traffic and behavior.
Everyone is required to wear a face covering in buildings and outdoors when distancing is difficult to maintain. Students and employees complete a daily symptom screening online before coming to campus, and anyone with symptoms is instructed to stay home. Online training was required for all employees and students, including a commitment to follow safety precautions.
“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. “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,” Patterson said.
“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,” Patterson said.
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. With meeting rooms converted to additional classrooms, these spaces generally are not available for public use.
Despite UW-Stevens Point’s care and diligence to protect our students, employees and communities at our three campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are positive cases. A thorough notification process is in place for cleaning, quarantine, isolation and for caring for students.
The university will balance individual privacy with transparency in communicating information about positive cases. 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.”