UW Pre-Return Testing Sets Stage for Safe Semester

UW 8-21-20

Pre-return testing of over 10,000 University of Wyoming students and employees has detected a total of 61 cases of COVID-19, as the fall semester is set to begin Monday, Aug. 24, under a phased approach.

While some students and employees who won’t be on campus until later in the semester remain to take the pre-return saliva test, the program so far has been successful in reducing the numbers of people infected with COVID-19 being on campus — and helping those with the virus receive the care they need.

“The pre-return testing has been helpful in giving us a strong start to the semester from an epidemiological standpoint,” UW President Ed Seidel says. “This, combined with the testing protocol we’ll use during the semester, gives us the best opportunity to have a successful semester with some in-person experiences.”

As of today (Thursday), there are a total of 46 active cases among UW students and employees — an increase of just eight since Monday. Only two are students who were living in UW residence halls; they were moved to isolation housing over the weekend. Eight are UW employees living off-campus, who also are isolating; 36 are students living off campus, most outside Laramie.

Ten students who had close contact with the two who tested positive are in 14-day quarantine. Fifteen of the total of 61 people who tested positive have recovered.

The university is using a third-party provider, Vault Health, to conduct the pre-return testing. As of today, 11,092 tests have been processed. A small number of employees and students have taken the test twice, as they were early returners to campus or were part of an initial sampling.

Seidel emphasizes that as more people return to campus in phases, the potential for more COVID-19 increases — making it important for students, employees and visitors to wear face protection, maintain physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, stay home if they’re ill and participate in post-return testing.

“As we have seen across the country, many of our peers are having to pivot to online environments because of infection outbreaks,” the president says. “We believe we have one of the best programs in the nation to monitor and intervene to limit the virus spread, so we can continue to offer a strong on-campus program. It will take the efforts of everyone to execute our plan and have a successful semester while protecting the health of the university and local communities.”