LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – UW-La Crosse is welcoming students back to campus as staff prepare against a possible surge of COVID-19 cases.
UWL is requiring face coverings in campus buildings, regardless of vaccination status, but students won’t have to wear one inside their dorm rooms.
Director of Residence Life Jenni Brundage says it will be up to the individual students whether or not they feel comfortable in those enclosed spaces without wearing a mask.
Residence halls, classrooms, and all other buildings across campus are available for normal capacity, but one residence hall is being set aside for a quarantine space in case a student tests positive.
Faculty and staff will be monitoring COVID cases as the year continues, with the possibility of guideline changes if there’s a surge.
“We just continue to ask for patience of our students and their families,” Brundage added. “Things do change and we do want to make sure that we’re continuing to work with our health professionals on campus, as well as the local health authorities, to make sure if we need to make adjustments, we can do that.”
As far as COVID testing, it won’t be mandatory throughout the school year, but there are protocols for students once they arrive on campus.
“Right now, we’re doing testing upon entry unless you can show proof of vaccination or a past positive,” Brundage explained.
Students are urged to get themselves tested if they begin to experience symptoms of COVID-19.
Overall, restrictions to start the 2021-22 school year are more relaxed than last year, due in large part to 70% of UWL students being vaccinated.
La Crosse is the first campus in the UW System to reach the 70% milestone, but Chancellor Joe Gow says more work needs to be done.
He believes once students are back together, those who are unvaccinated may follow the example of their peers.
“Maybe if people have been on their own this summer and have said, I’ll get around to it, they’ll come back and their friends will say I got vaccinated, you should too because the sooner we all get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to normal,” Gow said.
UWL is offering incentives if the vaccination numbers increase, as drawings for seven $750 scholarships will be held once the university reaches 75%.
The university has already unlocked at least seven $7,000 scholarships from the UW System by hitting the 70% mark, which will be distributed through a drawing in October.
In an effort to boost student vaccinations, UWL is offering a clinic on the second floor of the Cartwright Center until Friday, Sept. 10.
The clinic is open daily between noon and 4 PM.