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What Utah students should expect for next college semester

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 08, 2021

Universities across Utah are getting ready to bring students back on campus for spring semester, some starting as soon as Monday.

Most universities are planning on one entry level test when students come back to campus. Few will have students tested weekly.

Administrators wanted to give students an extra week or so of Christmas vacation as a precaution -- just in case students developed symptoms of COVID-19 while home for the holidays.

For Brigham Young University, entry level testing started Friday in preparation for classes on Monday, Jan. 11.

The University of Utah and Utah State University start classes a week later, on the 19th.

Chris Nelson, a spokesman for the U, said they will have weekly COVID tests for their 3,200 students living on-campus for the spring semester.

In addition, about 15 percent of the student body will be selected randomly for a COVID-19 test, said Nelson.

“I think with this regular testing regiment, we'll be able to do a little more of those in-person experiences" said Nelson.

The U expects 10,000 of their 32,000 students to be back with on-campus classes blended with online for the semester.

For their Logan campus, USU expects 16,000 to 17,000 of their 27,000 enrolled students to be back on campus.

At BYU, they expect about 27,000 of their 34,000 students to be on-campus with a blended schedule.

"Those students may be on campus once a week or once every other week, so we will never have a full 30,000 students on campus at one time," said BYU spokeswoman Natalie Ipson.

USU spokeswoman Amanda DeRito said they will continue to collect wastewater samples weekly for their on-campus housing.

Wastewater samples helped the Aggies identify COVID-19 exposure for nearly 300 students in the fall of 2020.

READ: Students quarantined at Utah State University after COVID-19 found in dorm wastewater

"When we don't have a lot of positive cases somewhere and then we see an elevated wastewater, that's where we really know that we need to do additional testing," said DeRito.

Many of the internship programs for all three universities are hoping to start back up for the spring semester.

Colleges are deferring to the state for rolling out any vaccine plans.