UW Oshkosh staff and faculty are preparing to bring students back to campus safely through frequent testing and social distancing on campus.
“Our top priority is going to be the safety and welfare of everybody,” Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said.
Leavitt said staff spent the entire summer coming up with the Titans Return plan to change classes and activities on campus to ensure students’ safety. The university limited the capacity of students allowed in classrooms to keep students safe, according to Leavitt.
“We expect instruction to go on pretty much as it normally would with the following caveat and that is we have the ability to go online,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt said the faculty worked hard over the summer to learn how to effectively teach online and hybrid classes.
“They’ve gone back to school and we’ve offered a lot of training for faculty to learn how to be a more effective teacher online and how to build courses,” he said.
College of Business Dean Barb Rau said faculty attended workshops through the university’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to prepare for online teaching.
“They have been preparing faculty for all these different modes of instruction and teaching them how to capture lectures electronically,” she said. Rau added students will have the opportunity to take classes fully online, in-person, or in a hybrid setting.
She said hybrid classes will provide a safe and fluid experience for both in-person and online learning.
“A student can at any time, if they feel symptoms, decide not to attend class in person and instead stay online,” Rau said, noting fully in-person classes are reserved for lab courses that require students to use equipment they won’t have access to at home.
Leavitt said he expects online classes will be higher quality than they were in the spring semester.
“I really do appreciate the faculty and how they’ve leaned into this,” he said.
UWO will provide free coronavirus testing for students and employees who have either been exposed to the virus or who are experiencing symptoms.
A portion of Albee Hall was converted to a testing center where students and faculty can schedule a test with the university’s testing partner Prevea Health through the UWO Mobile app.
UWO is planning on performing 2,100 coronavirus and antigen tests a week, according to Leavitt. UWO will also randomly select students for antigen testing for screening the virus on campus, according to Director of Risk andSafety Kim Langolf.
“Our plan is to test as many students as we can, as often as we can and as quick as we can,” she said.
Langolf added that it’s important to continually test students to keep those infected with COVID from spreading it to others. Leavitt said it will be everybody’s responsibility to follow UWO’s health and safety protocols to keep everyone on campus safe.
“It’s very important that the students follow the protocols that we have in place and certainly when they go off campus,” he said. “Because the actions taken off-campus may impact our ability on campus to remain face-to-face.”