The school has had a slow and steady increase in cases in recent weeks, though most of the positives have been off campus and there has yet to be a singular, large outbreak. The initial spike in cases was driven by off-campus parties, UW officials have said, which have prompted an internal investigation to determine if students broke university rules amid the pandemic.
In the release announcing the pause, Seidel said that campus was “relatively safe.” But he was critical of students off campus who hadn’t taken proper precautions.
“Unfortunately, it appears that some of our students off campus are not doing the same, based upon community observations and the relatively high number of cases among those students,” he said. “If that situation doesn’t change, it seriously jeopardizes the opportunity to implement our full phased return plan for the fall semester.”
The news Wednesday is the latest change in course for UW as its leaders seek to keep students on campus and in class. Initially, the school extensively vetted and published a reopening plan that would allow for in-person classes from the jump, albeit with intensive testing, masking, social distancing and other tweaks to daily campus life.
That plan was then dropped in August for a phased reopening plan, which would see first-year UW students move onto campus and begin classes in early September, while the rest of the student body would return later in the month.