EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — Thousands of students can move ahead with plans, or perhaps even cement their college choice after the announcement Friday that the University of Wisconsin (UW) system will open its campuses at Eau Claire, River Falls and Stout this fall.
All three universities, which just completed their spring semesters using distance learning and other delivery methods due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are putting comprehensive plans in place that will allow faculty, staff and students to return to campus safely.
University housing will be available to students at all three campuses. UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls begin classes Sept. 2, while UW-Stout starts up Sept. 9.
“In-person engagement is crucial to a transformative educational experience, and we are pleased our comprehensive planning efforts will enable us to welcome students back to campus this fall,” said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt in a released statement. “The safety of our faculty, staff and students at UW-Eau Claire is our No. 1 priority, and UW-Stout and UW-River Falls have the same goals for their campuses."
At UW-Stout, density studies have been completed on all classrooms, labs and studio spaces to ensure students and instructors can maintain safe physical distancing. Plans are being put in place for additional equipment and technology in learning spaces to support effective and safe instruction. Still, UW-Stout students will experience a combination of face to face, online and hybrid learning in the fall.
"It is tremendously important to us that our students are able to be on campus this fall and to ensure applied learning opportunities continue regardless of instructional delivery method,” said UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank. “Much of our learning is hands-on, and includes the use of laboratories, studios, and related facilities. We have worked for months to plan for our fall opening to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors while remaining true to our mission.”
All three campuses are consulting with local health officials to establish plans for testing students, and using contact-tracing protocols already in place for managing communicable diseases.