RIVER FALLS – This week, the University of Wisconsin- River Falls sent out a detailed plan to students, faculty and campus staff for increasing the number of people vaccinated on campus prior …
RIVER FALLS – This week, the University of Wisconsin- River Falls sent out a detailed plan to students, faculty and campus staff for increasing the number of people vaccinated on campus prior to and during the upcoming fall 2021 semester.
The “Protect the Nest” initiative will provide on-campus vaccine clinics during the week of welcome on Monday, Aug. 30 and Wednesday, Sept. 1, both from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Falcon’s Nest inside the University Center. The University also announced that any student who becomes exposed to COVID-19 will not have to quarantine, but only if they are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated students will still have to quarantine.
In a letter sent out to the UWRF campus community from Chancellor Maria Gallo, Gallo announced that masks will be mandatory for all individuals inside campus buildings no matter their vaccination status.
Gallo wrote, “As Pierce County has reached a substantial COVID-19 transmission rate, we are now expecting all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, to wear a mask in public indoor settings. This policy change, effective immediately, is in alignment with CDC guidance and has been done so in consultation with the Pierce County local health department. We look forward to a return to a full college experience this fall. We will continue to monitor and respond to data and public health guidance should the situation change.”
The Protect the Nest initiative is also partnering with the University of Wisconsin-System “70 for 70” campaign. UW System President Tommy Thompson announced this campaign in July to encourage students on all campuses in the state to help get their campus community vaccination rate to a minimum of 70 percent by Oct. 15. The only four-year institution in the UW System that is not a part of this campaign is UW-Madison. At this time, UWRF does not have data on how many people in the campus community have been vaccinated.
Dina Fassino, marketing and communications director at UW-River Falls, spoke on why prizes are being included with the campus vaccine initiative.
“Like college campuses and communities across the country, UW-River Falls is looking for ways to engage students in keeping our campus a safe place to learn, live and work,” Fassino said. “Following the lead of UW System’s 70 for 70 campaign, UWRF determined that prizes would serve as fun way to promote our Protect the Nest campaign.”
Although prizes will be given to those who are and will be getting vaccinated on campus, some students do not believe rewards for vaccinations are the best way to increase campus vaccination numbers.
One UWRF student, who wished to remain anonymous, shared their thoughts.
“Yes, I do think the university will reach the 70 percent vaccination rate but the methods of paying off students with drawings of scholarships and other high valued items seems unethical,” they said. “I think educating students on how the vaccine works and explaining the benefits of getting it would work better.”
The 70 for 70 campaign intends to reward students who attend universities in the UW System that reach the 70 percent threshold by Oct.15. It will award 70 scholarships to 70 students valued at $7,000 each. UW-River Falls is including additional prizes for students if the university reaches the 70 percent vaccination rate as well. Students will have to upload their vaccination cards to a portal to ensure their eligibility for these rewards.
Photo by Theodore Tollefson