It’s been 3 months since UW-Madison students left campus to slow the spread of Covid-19. Now the university has a plan to reopen.
Beginning September 5th, classes will be a mix of in-person and virtual instruction. Classes with more than 100 people will be virtual while classes under 50 will meet in person. Classes that fall between that range will vary.
For students living on campus, most dorm rooms will have two occupants and most dining halls won’t allow guests. They will focus on “grab and go” options. Chancellor Rebecca Blank says students, staff, and faculty will all receive health-safety training, and will be expected to follow certain guidelines. “Everyone is aware of what [the guidelines] are, of what they should be doing, and how they are implemented,” Blank explains. “I expect every classroom this fall, on the top of their syllabus, to say if you want to be in this class in-person, if it’s an in-person class, we expect you to be masked. And if you are not willing to wear a mask when you come to class, there will be whole variety of non-in-person classes you can participate in instead.”
Under the plan, the 9 instruction days after Thanksgiving will be completely virtual. Final exams will also be held online.
However, the university may have to change their plans in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak. Under the plan there is no set number of cases that will result in a shut down. But Blank says 5% of dorms rooms will be set aside for students who need to quarantine. If those rooms reach capacity, the college would likely move back to virtual-only classes.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor says students and staff will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing when possible. She says that they will educate students on safety and increase cleaning in residence halls, but responsibility will fall on students to self-monitor. “We use social norming a lot to encourage our students to do the right thing, to take care of each other, and to make sure other people are safe” Reesor says. “We are going to plea to our students’ good sense and to the greater community, to not just do what is right for them, but to do it for the greater good of the community.”
Testing will be available to students, staff, and faculty through the university’s health services, and the school expects to hire contact tracers through Public Health Madison. Director of University Health Services Jake Baggott says many students are experiencing increased anxiety during the pandemic. “We are going to make sure we have sufficient staff available, prepared, and schedules to address those needs,” Baggott explains.
The UW-Madison plan can be found here.
Other colleges in Madison are still working on their own plans. Last week, Madison College President Jack Daniels said a plan for the fall semester will be announced by July 15th. Edgewood’s new President Andrew Manion is expected to announce plans this week.
UW-Madison estimates a loss of $150,000,000 since March, but Chancellor Blank calls that the minimum. She expects the loss to increase as the university will not be operating at full capacity in the fall.