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UW-La Crosse switching to virtual classes after Thanksgiving break
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UW-La Crosse switching to virtual classes after Thanksgiving break

From the COLLECTION: November updates on La Crosse County COVID-19 cases series
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After a Thursday afternoon meeting with university officials, UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow announced Friday morning classes would be going virtual following the Thanksgiving break.

Joe Gow

Gow

Post holiday, the University will transition exclusively to online and remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. Residence halls, the dining hall and campus buildings and facilities will remain open.

Gow noted yesterday during a visit from Rear Admiral Nancy Knight, Director of the Division of Global Health Protection (DGHP) at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UW System President Tommy Thompson, to the University’s surge testing site that officials had been in frequent discussion about whether to follow the plans of UW-Eau Claire, which Thursday morning made the decision to go virtual after Thanksgiving.

“It’s a complex undertaking because you’ve got 10,500 students and another 1,200 people that work here, so what decision do we want to make here that’s not only in the best interest of this campus, but the local community,” Gow said yesterday.

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UW-L put for two weeks in September enforced “shelter in place” guidelines for dorm residents following a spike in local coronavirus cases. For the remainder of the semester students may leave their dorms but are asked to quarantine for the next two weeks and must be tested before and after the holiday if they chose to visit family or friends. Students can register for free COVID-19 testing at www.uwlax.edu/go/covid-test.

“Quarantine and testing are tools that can help ensure you don’t transmit the virus to your loved ones, and that you don’t contract it at a gathering and promote its spread afterward,” Gow said, noting he “join(s) public health experts in urging you to refrain from in-person celebrations this Thanksgiving — especially if those plans involve travel. Experts say small and mid-size gatherings are one of the primary culprits for the rising numbers. Our public health officials and health care providers are imploring us to limit our contact to those within our households.”

UW-L, which has been offering PCR and antigen tests to students since the second week of September, is one of 13 state colleges to provide surge testing through a partnership between the UW System, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and eTrueNorth. UW-L’s existing student testing program will continue in tandem with the surge testing program.

Gow noted Friday, “We feel our campus is among the safest places in La Crosse — as evidenced by our daily COVID-19 test results — but in light of alarming numbers of positive cases in the greater La Crosse community, we want to give our students the ability to choose where they will reside as they complete their fall semester courses through online and other remote modes.”

Students currently residing in residence halls will receive more details early next week, Gow said. Meals will be offered on campus in the Student Union Nov. 26-28, including a Thanksgiving dinner that Thursday. The Recreational Eagle Center will be open Nov. 27-29.

“I want to say that the UWL leadership team is proud of the way our campus community has done its part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Gow said. “We are grateful for everything you’ve done to make that happen, from adhering to health and safety protocols to making responsible decisions about where to go and who to see. We can’t afford to undo all that hard work. Thank you for doing everything in your power to keep our communities safe — not just this Thanksgiving, but over all these difficult weeks.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at emily.pyrek@lee.net.

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