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UWRF increases testing and resources for COVID-19

February 23, 2021

UW-River Falls has increased the campus COVID-19 testing capacity. UW-System policy has introduced mandatory testing for students and employees. 

Students living on campus must be tested weekly, while students living off campus but utilizing campus facilities must be tested once every two weeks. Students living off campus also have the choice to opt out of testing if they are online only. UWRF employees who work on campus are required to be tested once every two weeks.

According to the current guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for expanded screening testing, a community with a positivity rate of less than 5% during a week period is considered a low transmission rate. Based on testing results from Jan. 21 through Feb. 17, UWRF has conducted a total of 8,618 antigen tests, 40 of which were positive. This means that the campus has a seven-day antigen positivity rate of 0.24%.

An increase in the availability of resources, as well as a deeper understanding of the virus, has made this increase in testing capacity possible. “We are certainly more equipped to handle things like required testing now than we were before,” said Chancellor’s Chief of Staff Beth Schommer. 

Interim Chancellor Constance Foster cited the September shelter in place mandate as a “wake up call,” and said that it prompted campus administration to “reinvent the game plan.”

After the spike in cases that was seen in early fall, Foster said that the university focused on training more people to assist with contact tracing.

Stratton Hall was vacated and turned into an isolation hall meant for on-campus students who tested positive. UWRF even assisted the city of River Falls with their testing capacities by instituting a free surge testing site for community members. The original surge testing site was located in Page Arena, and now it operates twice a week out of Hoffman Park.

Now, with successful testing protocols in place and a low positivity rate to show, UWRF administration has begun to focus on offering more in-person activities. The Falcon Center is open and will soon be available for use by community member visitors. Popular winter activities such as open skate and intramural broomball are being offered again on campus. Larger groups will soon be allowed in areas such as the University Center and Chalmer Davee Library.

The goal for UWRF is to have a traditional fall semester in 2021. There is also hope for some form of an in-person commencement in May, but a decision on this is contingent on how effectively the university is able to control the spread of the virus in the time leading up to the ceremony. Information and statistics related to COVID-19 and testing at UWRF can be found on the campus’s website: www.uwrf.edu/COVID-19/