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Published December 15, 2021
The University of Wyoming will begin the spring 2022 semester with the same policy regarding masks that has been in place this fall semester, UW’s Board of Trustees decided today (Wednesday).
The policy will be revisited at the board’s Feb. 16 meeting, when more information is expected to be available regarding the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus and in the local community, including the new Omicron variant.
“There’s just no way right now to tell what the conditions will be like when classes resume Jan. 18, so we believe it’s prudent to continue with the policies that have allowed us to have a successful in-person fall semester when we begin the spring semester,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “We are committed to continue delivering the in-person experience our students deserve, and this approach puts us in the best position to do so. If the conditions are such that removal of the indoor mask requirement is warranted in February, that’s what we intend to do.”
Masks are required in UW buildings where 6-foot social distancing is not possible. Exceptions to the indoor mask requirement are voluntary public events such as athletics and music, theater and dance performances; voluntary social events; and private, by-invitation events that involve rental and/or use of UW spaces on campus. Employees and students who have legitimate medical reasons to not wear masks can seek exceptions.
An additional exception is for patrons of Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center when participating in recreational activities, sports or fitness or when a spectator at a voluntary public recreational event. Half Acre patrons are still required to wear masks when entering and exiting the building, at all customer service desks and in meeting rooms.
Spring Semester Testing
As was the case for the fall semester, UW will conduct mandatory COVID-19 testing for all employees and students who will spend any time on campus during the spring semester the week before classes begin -- Wednesday, Jan. 12, through Sunday, Jan. 16, with additional testing as necessary the first week of classes for those who are unable to be tested earlier. Additionally, the university will continue its random-sample testing of 3 percent of the UW weekly when the spring semester begins.
As of Monday, there were eight reported active cases of COVID-19 in the UW community -- seven students off campus and one employee. The positivity rate for those tested in the weekly surveillance program Dec. 5-11 was .99 percent.
“Our current numbers are quite low and, if not for the uncertainties regarding the Omicron variant and continuing growth due to the Delta variant, we probably could justify removal of the mask requirement -- which we would like to do,” Seidel says. “We should know a lot more by the board’s February meeting regarding prevalence of the coronavirus in our community, the dangers of Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines to protect against it.”
The university continues to strongly encourage but not require COVID-19 vaccinations for almost all employees and all students -- including booster shots.
The only COVID-19 vaccination requirement currently in place is for employees of UW’s Early Care and Education Center, who must be fully vaccinated or be tested weekly for the infection. There are religious and medical exemptions for those employees.
As of Monday, 42.13 percent of UW’s on-campus students had documented receiving at least one vaccine dose to the Student Health Service -- although separate surveys have found up to 69 percent of students saying they’ve been vaccinated. Also as of Monday, 4,296 of UW’s total 6,368 employees -- 67.5 percent -- had reporting receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
UW requires all faculty, staff and students who are vaccinated to report it -- to allow the university to track overall vaccination numbers.
For employees, a quick reference guide has been created to help report vaccinations within UW’s HCM. 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. Alternatively, students can report their vaccinations by emailing photos of their vaccination documents to Student Health at email@example.com.
“Vaccines remain the best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community from COVID-19,” Seidel says. “While the Omicron variant appears to be able to infect those who’ve been vaccinated, the early evidence shows that those who’ve received boosters are quite highly protected from serious illness.”
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.