UVU moves to orange: What that means for fall semester

Illustration by: Ysabel Berger

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UVU moved back to the orange (moderate restriction) level in both Provo and Orem beginning Sept. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Governor Gary Herbert, who made the announcement early Tuesday, urged residents and businesses in these areas to “practice proper precaution” in regards to the change. 

Shortly following Herbert’s decision, UVU President Astrid Tuminez and Brigham Young University President Kevin J. Worthen addressed concerned student bodies in a joint letter. Both concluded the surge in positive COVID-19 cases to be “alarming and unacceptable,” and implored students to follow local health and safety guidelines. 

In an announcement posted on the UVU website, Wayne Vaught, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs and Val Peterson, vice president of Finance and Administration, discussed the importance of these guidelines both on and off-campus. 

“We are at a critical point in time when the behavior exhibited while off-campus will impact what we can offer on campus,” the announcement said, “Wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and if you become ill, stay home.” 

For now, classes will continue as scheduled as UVU has been functioning at orange level compliance since the beginning of the fall semester. This includes mandatory mask-wearing, reduced class sizes, contact tracing and enhanced regular cleaning. 

As mentioned by both Tuminez and Worthen, “student behavior must change” in order to stop dramatic future action. The rise in COVID-19 cases in Utah has been connected to college students throughout Utah County. Tuminez and Worthen stress the impact of student choices at this time. They both urge students to only leave home when essential and to “limit interactions to only those within their households.” 

“If circumstances do not improve within the next two weeks, more dramatic action will be necessary,” the letter to students stated, “This may include a two-week quarantine, closing campuses to the public, or a complete retreat to all-remote instruction for the rest of the semester.” 

The hope is that the university can move swiftly through the orange phase and into yellow followed by green. As for the future of the fall semester, that is up to students to decide what will happen.

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