Three UW-System schools welcome students back to campus for fall semester
In-person classes will be back in session at three western Wisconsin UW-System schools this fall, at least that's the plan for now.
UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank says things will be a little different when students come back on campus this fall.
"Nothing is going to be like a typical semester," Franks says. "Everything will look and feel different on campus in the fall and it should, because we are being careful about safe and responsible operations."
Friday, UW-Stout along with UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire announced they would be welcoming students back on campus after finishing the spring semester online.
“We felt it was important people knew of our intention and that we are well on the path to have a very solid plan to do our best to ensure a safe, accessible and invigorating campus life,” says UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt.
For students like UW-Stout junior Nikki Peters, the announcement means getting back to some sense of normalcy.
“I'm excited. I'm an education major so a lot of my classes are lab classes and they were pretty hard to do online,” Peters says.
But Frank and Schmidt say the fall semester will be anything but normal. The schools are looking at ways to maintain social distancing recommendations, along with potentially requiring students, faculty and staff to wear face masks while on campus.
“One of the things spring presented to us was the potential to leverage technology to bring people together in new ways,” Franks says. “We do have the potential for people to meet in person, but we can supplement that with technology.”
“We're going to have to look at some larger spaces on campus that have traditionally not been used for classes and bring classes in there,” Schmidt says.
Residence halls at each university will open as usual, with more cleaning of restrooms, lobbies and other public places around campus.
“If a student is sharing a room with another person for the year, you are creating in essence a family unit,” Schmidt says. “We plan to use Putnam hall on the lower campus only for quarantine students who might have tested positive for COVID during the school year.”
Schmidt says UW-EC is also looking into purchasing testing equipment that could have results back in about 45 minutes. He also says there is a meeting this week that should result in a decision on how the WIAC sports could resume play this fall.