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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

UW's Reopening Plans Get Mixed Reactions From Faculty

Allan Henderson

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has approved a plan to reopen campus this fall, but some classes will still be taught online.

Associate Professor and Assistant Chair of the Department of English Julia Obert and Associate Professor Arielle Zibrak are some of the faculty opting to teach online. Obert said UW professors have a wide spread of opinions about the plan to reopen. Some professors, especially those in high-risk categories, are much more worried.

Obert said the plan to reopen is well thought out. However, "the one decision that makes me a little bit anxious is the decision to allow students to have roommates," said Obert. "The kind of proximity that students have to a roommate in the dorms will make it pretty difficult to avoid spread if indeed someone is affected."

Obert is assuming some students will not be able to return to campus. She is experienced with teaching online, so she says using Zoom is the best option for including all of her students.

Arielle Zibrak said teaching her English classes online will be more consistent for her students.

"I think that going into the semester with the knowledge that I'll be teaching on Zoom the entirety of the semester will allow me to deliver course content more seamlessly to my students instead of having to constantly reconfigure the way the course is going to be set up in response to changing circumstances," said Zibrak.

Zibrak said her classes can still have valuable discussions over Zoom, but that classes with labs and other hands-on aspects will be much more difficult. Blanket solutions won't work, said Zibrak, and the decision to teach online or in-person will depend on each individual professor and their student's needs.

UW students should expect a combination of online and in-person classes, even with an open campus this fall.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!

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