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UW-Eau Claire finalizes plans for safe return to classes for fall

| Denise Olson

UW-Eau Claire has long prided itself on the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that are at the foundation of the Blugold experience for students, faculty and staff. It is in that same spirit that we announce the basis of our fall return to campus and in-person instruction — the Blugold Flight Plan.

Chancellor James Schmidt

Chancellor James Schmidt

Chancellor James Schmidt is proud to unveil the Blugold Flight Plan, the product of months of careful planning and preparation. 

"We are eagerly looking forward to welcoming new and continuing students back to Wisconsin’s Most Beautiful Campus this fall," Schmidt said. "To do that, my executive team, our college deans and directors have been working tirelessly to follow national recommendations for the health of our faculty, staff and students and to develop creative solutions to make this fall return safe and successful.”  

While Schmidt is also proud of the Herculean efforts of campus to rapidly convert to online course delivery last March, and of the successful completion of the semester and thousands of Blugold degrees, he acknowledges that bringing students back to campus has long been the goal. 

"I know that the education and the transformative experiences we offer our students, both inside and outside of the classroom are deeply enriched by meaningful, individual interactions between faculty, students and staff. Blugolds thrive on one-to-one connections which simply cannot be replicated in a purely virtual world."

It was with that base goal in mind that the Blugold Flight Plan took shape, laying out clear and simple guidelines to optimize safety, promote health and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, allowing for face-to-face education to continue throughout the fall semester. 

The four main steps for safety

The safe return to campus amid an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will require all members of our Blugold community to follow the guidelines and behaviors outlined in the plan, demonstrating our shared commitment to each other's health and well-being. 

Dr. Warren Anderson, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and student affairs, is confident in the Blugold Flight Plan and in fulfilling the promise to deliver the high standards of instruction that UW-Eau Claire is known for.

Dr. Warren Anderson, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion

Dr. Warren Anderson, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and student affairs

"As we work to realize the desire of the majority of our students, faculty and staff to resume face-to-face instruction, we are doing so in the manner that most assures the safety and well-being of everyone in the Blugold community," Anderson said. "We have been working to develop appropriate safety measures, both in and out of the classroom, that will aid in our pursuit to provide the type of UW-Eau Claire education that everyone has come to expect."

Anderson also points out that the way to "fly right" upon return is that we all do what we can to protect ourselves and follow the safety measures to protect others, to protect the community.

"Returning to face-to-face instruction will require us all to do the heavy lifting, together," he added.

  • Wear your mask: All campus members will be provided with two reusable cloth face masks to be worn at all times in classroom settings, campus buildings, communal spaces within residence halls and outdoors where 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
  • Practice physical distancing: Classrooms and other facilities will be arranged to maintain 6 feet of physical space, along with floor signage and other reminders for all to maintain this amount of distance throughout campus and while interacting with others.
  • Wash your hands: Frequent 20-second washing with soap and water throughout the day is essential to minimize potential viral spread. In addition, hand sanitizer will be made available at multiple stations in all buildings throughout campus.
  • Monitor your health: The required use of a Mayo Clinic-developed mobile app called Blugold Protocol will allow for daily symptom monitoring for students, faculty and staff. The app will indicate any health changes that may necessitate a COVID-19 test. Testing for students will be available through Student Health Service; faculty and staff should seek testing through their health care provider.
"Landing Gear" kits

All students, faculty and staff will receive a Landing Gear kit upon return to campus. This kit will include:

  • A reusable water bottle with blank panel to write owner's name in permanent marker.
  • Two washable two-ply cloth masks.
  • A digital oral thermometer and instructions for proper daily temperature checks.
  • Informational cards related to all steps of the Blugold Flight Plan in full detail.
Student input for fall return

As task force groups have met at the leadership level throughout the planning of a fall return, students have been represented by Anna Ziebel, interim student body president.

"As an elected representative of the Blugold student body on this task force, I have made it a point to keep in touch with students in order to maintain that perspective in this process," Ziebell said. "The health and safety of all on campus has been the top priority in the decisions around reopening and the implementation of protocols surrounding masks, physical distancing, etc. While the university is going to do anything and everything possible to keep people safe, there are individual responsibilities that will fall onto each person — it's important that everyone do their part in keeping others safe." 

Fly Right Pledge

Because a safe return to in-person instruction at UW-Eau Claire requires the dedication of all Blugolds to follow the above steps with diligence, returning students are required to digitally sign the Fly Right Pledge as they to return to campus. This pledge will reiterate the important steps all members of the campus community must take in order to protect not only their own health and safety, but that of the community as a whole.

For more information about the Blugold Flight Plan for the return to campus and in-person classes, please visit the Blugold Flight Plan webpage