Updates To Campus Operations – 3.11.20

Dear parents and families,

I’m reaching out today to share additional action the university is taking to ensure the health of your student and support them in the successful completion of the spring semester.

COVID-19 continues to spread and affect many parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world. UW–Madison is working to mitigate the effects of the disease on our campus population, in consultation with local, state and federal partners.

The health of our community is our most important priority.

While there are relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dane County, the number of cases nationally continues to grow. Our health partners tell us that now is the best time to act in ways that slow the spread.

Let me share several major decisions about the rest of the semester. We appreciate your flexibility and understanding in advance. At this moment, we can’t account for every possibility and scenario, but we will continue to communicate about this situation and answer your individual questions as best we are able via chancellor@wisc.edu.

Instruction: To lessen the risk to our community as much as possible, UW–Madison will suspend Spring Semester face-to-face instruction effective Monday, March 23, the date that classes would typically resume after next week’s spring break.

Alternate (online) delivery of classes will begin on March 23 and continue at least through Friday, April 10. A decision on when and whether in-person instruction will resume will be shared in early April. Students will receive additional information about this transition in the next few days.

Undergraduate Residence Halls: We are particularly concerned about the safety of students in our residence halls who share bathrooms and eating facilities and live very closely together.

Residents are being asked to take essential belongings, academic materials, laptops and medications with them for spring break and not return to residence halls following spring break through at least April 10. We hope that students will return to their permanent residence and complete their coursework remotely. A follow-up communication will be sent by University Housing to all affected residents shortly.

We recognize that some students may be unable to return to their permanent residence for various reasons and will need to stay in their residence halls. For instance, some international students will not be able to return home at this time; some students may be unable to access online classes in their home location; some may need to stay in Madison for other reasons.

University Housing will provide additional guidance to students. Residence halls will remain available to these students where necessary, but we expect the majority of residents to return home, leaving the residence halls much emptier and making it easier for remaining students to maintain social distance.

Students who stay in residence halls should be prepared for a reduced campus experience with limited opportunities for interaction and reduced campus services.

Off Campus residents: We expect that most off campus residents will remain in Madison and continue their studies remotely, although some may choose to remain in their permanent location past the end of spring break.

If your student develops symptoms:
If your student develops symptoms, they should stay at home – they should not come to work or class if they are ill. If symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing are present, they should contact University Health Services or their local health care provider for advice.

Respect for one another:
We have heard of instances of slurs and profiling directed toward individuals wearing masks or those of Asian descent. Some students have told us that they feel self-conscious coughing in public, they encounter racist comments and jokes, or they experience social distancing on public transportation, in classes, and in groups.

Racist behaviors or stereotyping in or outside of the classroom are not acceptable at UW–Madison. We encourage students who experienced harassment or discrimination to file a bias incident report. We need everyone’s support during this challenging time and to treat each other with respect and kindness.

While students may not feel like COVID-19 will affect them if they are young or healthy, please remind them that they are members of a larger community and could carry it to those with compromised immune systems or to older or higher risk people. There is no vaccine or protection at this time. We ask everyone to consider the safety and health of our entire community.

During this time, the university remains open. All faculty and staff are expected to report to work. We continue to have important research and education to do, but we want to keep our campus community as safe as possible. We are cancelling any events with over 50 people present through at least April 10. We are also cancelling any university-sponsored travel for students or employees.

During this challenging time, you are an important source of guidance and support to your student and we want to continue working in partnership with you. I’m proud of the resilience and determination our students demonstrate and I’m confident they will meet this challenge successfully. Going forward, we will share additional information with you through the Parent and Family Program and http://covid19.wisc.edu. We encourage you to reach out if you have questions or concerns via chancellor@wisc.edu or Campus and Visitor Relations, (608) 263-2400.

Rebecca Blank