LARAMIE, Wyo. — As vaccine distribution continues across the state, the University of Wyoming plans to further ease some COVID-19 requirements this summer as it transitions to a traditional fall 2021 semester.
Beginning tomorrow, Monday, May 17, UW will follow the current Wyoming Department of Health order that requires masks in educational settings indoors only when social distancing can’t be maintained. This is an expansion of the university’s earlier decision that starting May 8, masks are no longer required outdoors on campus — and it follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups.
Additionally, when the state Department of Health order expires, or if the university receives an exception to the order, UW will not require masks and social distancing for those who are vaccinated — and will only recommend masks and distancing indoors for those who are not vaccinated — for both indoor and outdoor settings on UW properties. The state health order currently extends through May 31.
The adjustment to the summer plan was approved last Friday by the UW Board of Trustees.
“We are taking this step with the acknowledgment that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and that, in the vast majority of cases, the decision whether to be vaccinated comes down to a personal choice,” UW President Ed Seidel said. “It is our sincere hope that all of our employees and students who are medically able will choose to be vaccinated. We are planning additional incentives and informational efforts in our strong encouragement of vaccination.”
“The science also informs us that the vaccines are highly effective and safe. It also tells us that, for those who are fully vaccinated, infections are extremely rare and that the few infections that have occurred among the fully vaccinated are not severe. I strongly recommend that everyone get vaccinated.”
Additionally, UW announced that it is proceeding with plans for face-to-face classes at maximum capacity this fall, along with face-to-face student engagement programs, in-person athletics experiences, and the like. The Board of Trustees voted March 26 to “fully reopen” the university “consistent with the health policy guidelines and directives of the state and federal governments regarding COVID-19.”
While requirements for masks and distancing this summer have been eased, other parts of the previously approved summer plan remain. Employees who are fully vaccinated are allowed to travel with no requirement for COVID-19 testing. And, the university’s requirement for students and employees spending time on campus to be tested for the virus at least once per week will be lifted July 1, as will the use of the COVID Pass.
“We are on track to be very close to a pre-pandemic environment for the fall semester,” Seidel said. “A major outbreak of some new, dangerous COVID variant that is resistant to the vaccines could cause us to reassess, but we are very optimistic about a traditional fall semester. Widespread vaccination will only add to the level of safety for our community. Of course, those who feel more comfortable wearing masks and distancing are certainly allowed to do so.”
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