University of Wisconsin–Madison

COVID-19 Clarifications And Reminders – 9.20.20

Dear Badger Parents and Families,

We are writing to share a message that was sent to your students on Friday from Dean of Students Christina Olstad.

Thank you for discussing this information and let us know if you have any questions.

Kind regards,
Stephanie and Monica
UW-Madison Parent and Family Program


Dear students,

I know you’ve had a lot of communications sent your way the past couple of weeks, and we’ve heard some confusion among students. So ahead of the weekend, I wanted to clarify a few things:

  • Positive COVID-19 cases among students appear to be trending down, but the risk remains high. Dane County has recently seen a dramatic increase in positive cases. The University continues to evaluate the data and will make more decisions about campus operations next week. A lot will depend on how things go these next several days. The most important thing you can do to keep our positive numbers down is to physically distance from people other than your roommates or immediate family and to always wear a face covering.
  • Undergraduate students are directed to limit their in-person interactions to only essential activities at least through Sept. 25. Essential activities include the following if not possible virtually: receiving medical care (including COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines); purchasing food; going to your on- or off-campus job; engaging in an individual outdoor activity, such as running or walking; and attending religious services. (Note: The original end date was Sept. 21; it was extended to be consistent with the pause in in-person group instruction.)

I also want to address a concerning belief we’ve been hearing – intentionally contracting COVID to “get it over with” is unsafe and irresponsible. While students who test positive can be asymptomatic or experience minimal symptoms, we’ve seen otherwise healthy young people across the country, including here in Dane County be hospitalized. The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still largely unknown. Willfully spreading the virus places everyone you meet, particularly our more vulnerable family and community members, at higher risk.

As of today, the University has completed or is currently investigating nearly 450 students and 9 student organizations for public health violations. Of these, 14 students were referred for emergency suspension. If a student repeatedly or intentionally violates the University’s public health expectations, there are real consequences that could affect their academic future.

We’ve overwhelmingly heard that students want an in-person experience as much as safely possible, and we are working around the clock to make this possible for you. The best part of my work is being among students, and I’m missing that interaction as much as you are this year. We are doing all we can to give you a world-class education both inside and outside the classroom, in circumstances that are new and unsettling to all of us.

If you need help, have a question, or simply want to talk to someone, please reach out. The Dean of Students Office is here for you if you’re not sure where to start, and University Health Services is available remotely if you need to talk to someone about a medical or mental health concern.

Stay safe, Badgers!

Christina Olstad
Dean of Students

P.S. If you’re looking for some more ways to stay connected and healthy, check out UHS’s new virtual care package.