RIVER FALLS — After nearly a year of pandemic-related disruptions and campus closures, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Thursday, Feb. 18, pledged a return to “a traditional full college experience” in the fall.

That would mean in-person classes and a full suite of co-curricular and extracurricular activities, according to a joint news release by chancellors of campuses in River Falls, Eau Claire and Stout.

“UW-River Falls is feeling very hopeful about our intended return to a more traditional fall semester,” interim Chancellor Connie Foster said. “We know that this is what we do best: supporting our Falcons’ success by interacting with them in person in a multitude of ways, inside the classroom and beyond.”

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The announcement followed an op-ed penned by UW System President Tommy Thompson in which he said campuses were directed to plan for rolling back COVID-19 changes such as the shift toward hybrid in-person/virtual classes. He said the goal is to have at least 75% of classes offered in-person this fall.

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“We know the pandemic still hovers over all of our lives,” Thompson wrote. “Yet, we also have hope that the vaccine supply will increase and know that our efforts to maintain a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty and staff will persist.”

What’s the situation on campus?

UW-River Falls reports on-campus COVID-19 numbers on its pandemic website, Falcons Forward. According to the most recent data posted Feb. 18:

One positive rapid-results antigen test result was added to the ongoing total on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

There have been 40 positive antigen tests since the start of the year.

The university is teaming with the city of River Falls to hold a community "surge testing" site for COVID-19, now at Hoffman Park.

What’s next?

A host of factors will be considered as planning for the fall semester continues, chancellors said.

Meanwhile, for students currently enrolled in classes, Foster announced previously that the university is “cautiously optimistic” about a return to normalcy this spring — including the possibility for in-person graduation in May.

Though spring break is officially off for this year.