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Published March 31, 2020
Most University of Wyoming students have left campus for the remainder of the spring semester, but they should still consider themselves as residents of Laramie for the nation’s 2020 census.
Wednesday, April 1, is Census Day around the country. Traditionally, that would mean the Census Bureau estimates the total number of people living in Laramie or Albany County on this date. But, because of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and the shift to online course delivery for the remainder of the semester by institutions across the U.S., the Census Bureau has directed that students enrolled in colleges and universities temporarily depopulated physically due to the COVID-19 virus will still be counted in those college communities.
“Even if you are away from your student housing due to your school being temporarily closed due to COVID-19, you will be counted at the student housing where you usually live,” the Census Bureau’s website says.
For students who’ve been living in private off-campus housing in Laramie, “You should count yourself at your off-campus address even if you go elsewhere for school breaks or if you are temporarily staying elsewhere, including with your parents, if your school is closed due to COVID-19,” the website adds.
“Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, in most cases, students living away from home at school should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” UW Interim Vice President for Community Affairs Chris Boswell says. “In other words, students who had been living in Laramie should still plan on being counted in Laramie. And, students now in Laramie should, by all means, use the materials they received in the mail or access the Census Bureau website in order to be counted.”
UW expects to receive guidance shortly on how to proceed with soliciting responses for those who were living in university-owned housing, including residence halls and university apartments.
“A few may have already received census materials, and they should complete them,” Boswell says. “But, for most folks living in university housing, we're awaiting direction from the Census Bureau.”
By law, the U.S. census is undertaken every 10 years to determine the population of the country -- and to accurately reflect where each person lives. Census figures determine how federal funding and grants are distributed annually for public services, among other things.
Every member of the UW community -- students who’ve been living off campus; those who are or were in UW’s residence halls and apartments; those living off campus in Laramie; international students; and all faculty and staff -- are encouraged to participate in the census. This can be done by filling out an online questionnaire, by mail or by phone. The online questionnaire is at https://2020census.gov.
Census forms are filled out by household, so it helps to talk with roommates in advance about the information needed. Individual information compiled by the Census Bureau is confidential, and individual information is not shared with other federal agencies.
Specific guidance from the Census Bureau about counting college students may be found here.