The end of COVID-19 at UWRF?
September 23, 2022
With the start of the 2022-2023 school year at UW-River Falls, students are experiencing, for the first time since 2020, a semester free of COVID-19 restrictions. The university was almost completely silent on the issue of the pandemic, save for a few emails and a brief article.
The university’s COVID update website was last updated on February 25, 2022; their COVID-19 dashboard was last updated on May 13, 2022. This lack of information has left many students to wonder, is COVID still an issue on campus, and what is UWRF’s COVID policy this semester?
Currently, masking is not required on campus, and neither are COVID tests or vaccinations. In addition, on-site COVID tests were discontinued last year, and have not returned. The university has said that “those who want to continue to wear masks are welcome to do so” and that they will continue to provide “high-quality masks available as supplies last.”
Also, students who contract COVID are advised to quarantine in place or return home, and talk to their Hall Director if they are staying in a residence hall. These few statements are a majority of UWRF’s COVID policy at the moment.
The university has also announced that COVID home testing kits are available at Student Health and Counseling Services, which may be adequate to meet any need, especially since on-site testing was underutilized when it wasn’t a requirement to be tested. However, these home testing kits are most likely less accurate than the ones the university previously offered.
As of September 15, the COVID community level for Pierce County is low, according to the CDC. As such, there is little need for required masking or measures such as required testing or online-only classes, but it cannot be understated that COVID is still an issue, and should not be ignored.
Most, if not all, students, including those at the Student Voice, are happy to return to a ‘normal’ college experience and put the hardships of the pandemic behind us. However, the university should be prepared to act if necessary, as in the instance of a sudden spike in cases.
Even if COVID isn’t a widespread issue on campus, the minority of students who contract the disease, are immunocompromised, or are worried about it should still be supported, and not left to address these issues on their own.
One potential reason for the lack of communication on the university’s part on COVID policy could be recruitment. With the university’s recent rebrand, it is clear that recruitment is a top priority, as it is for universities, along with retention.
If the university were to send out more information on its COVID policy, it could give students the impression that COVID is still a widespread issue. This, of course, could scare new students from enrolling, and perhaps returning students as well. UWRF’s enrollment numbers dropped from 2020 to 2022, almost certainly due to the pandemic, and the university may be trying to prevent a similar situation by avoiding the topic altogether.
On a positive note, however, the university is offering free COVID vaccine clinics on Tuesday, September 27th and on Wednesday, September 28th; they are the only two ‘events’ that even relate to COVID-19. Both clinics will be held from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the Ballroom on the second floor of the University Center.