UW System developing a plan to bring back students and staff to campuses for fall semester

Adequate testing, contact tracing, and self-isolation included in the plan

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – The UW System is aiming to have campuses, including UW-La Crosse, test all students and staff for the coronavirus.

It is part of a plan with the goal being in-person classes resuming once again this fall.

But UWL second-year biology student Jo Noordyk says even if folks are allowed back on campus, it would be a challenge to make it work.

Working in online labs has been an adjustment for Noordyk.

“There’s only so much professors can do to sort of simulate what we would be doing in the lab,” she said.

Noordyk, a biology student, says she’s eager to once again learn in the classroom.

“Hopefully, we’ll have full-time in-person classes again,” Noordyk said. “Being able to work in partners and groups and labs, you really get that hands-on experience.”

The UW System is developing a plan to get students and staff back on campus this fall.

Steps in the plan include adequate testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and isolation spaces for anyone who contracts the virus.

“So we are trying to identify very aggressively all the steps we can take to provide an on-campus experience for students,” UW System president of administration Robert Cramer said.

Cramer says the system is looking at staggering class starts, and students would be able to enter one way and exit another.

“If there’s two doors to a classroom, have one be for in, one be for out,” Cramer said. “Remind students to kind of wait, not to cue up all together at the door to get in or out.”

Cramer says some desks would be taken out of classrooms, and classes with 300 students would not happen.

“So are there ways to deliver maybe the lecture component online, and then have smaller sessions for discussions, for example a smaller number of students but in a larger space,” he said.

Residence halls will likely have just one student per room.

“It definitely would be a step in the right direction,” Noordyk said. “But still with a lot of dorm buildings, you still have common areas like the bathroom, and then kitchens, lounges, stuff like that…It’s gonna be near impossible to limit the spread if anyone does end up contracting the virus.”

Whether or not in-person classes restart, Noordyk says she will take several precautions to keep herself safe.

“There’s not really a whole lot more you can do,” Noordyk said.

Cramer says the Board of Regents will have a better idea if classes can resume in-person by June or July.