RIVER FALLS — Citing positivity rates and active cases of COVID-19 over a three-week span, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls announced Friday evening, Sept. 18, 2020, it will shift to online-only courses and implement a shelter-in-place policy for the campus.

The shelter-in-place policy started 7 p.m. Friday. The plan is to resume face-to-face and hybrid instruction on Oct. 3.

“Aggressive testing has enabled us to identify case increases here on campus,” Chancellor Connie Foster said in a statement. “To contain the spread, we will be moving to all online courses and implementing a shelter-in-place order within our campus community. Protecting the safety and health of our community is our priority, and we are working with our students to ensure they are vigilant.”

University leadership made the decision in collaboration with Pierce County Public Health, according to a news release. The county health department this week reported the disease activity level as "Red" — the highest risk level based on metrics in Harvard University’s Path to Zero framework for suppressing the spread of COVID-19.

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Students have been tested regularly for COVID-19 since fall semester began, with test results indicating "minimal presence" of the disease on campus but an increasing number of cases the past week in residence housing, according to a news release.

The university this week also announced an outbreak identified in connection to a Walnut Street yard party Saturday, Sept. 5. Anyone who attended the gathering is asked to get tested for COVID-19, even if not experiencing symptoms. UWRF testing information can be found at go.uwrf.edu/gettested.

UW-System President Tommy Thompson in a statement Friday said the strategy of using rapid-result antigen tests has allowed universities to identify infections and take quick action to address them.

“We continue to ask students at all of our universities to be vigilant to combat this virus — wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands,” Thompson said.

The UWRF online COVID-19 dashboard reported 133 positive cases out of 1,531 on-campus tests conducted Aug. 26-Sept. 18.