UW-System schools set expectations for residence halls, COVID-19 enforcement

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 5:51 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - NBC15 Investigates learned there are some major changes for University of Wisconsin-Madison college students when it comes to residential housing in fall 2020.

The Expectations

There are a few rules that every student is expected to follow.

Firstly, every resident will be tested every two weeks. UW-Madison Housing Dir. Of Communications Brendon Dybdahl said everyone living in a dormitory on campus was tested for COVID-19 on move-in day.

The guest policy is also strict, both for who can enter the building and how many people are allowed in at any time.

Anytime a student is not in his or her room, the student is expected to wear a mask.

“We are really asking our residents to be responsible and aware of following these guidelines, so they have the best chance of keeping their community safe and staying on campus the whole semester,” Dybdahl said.

University employees have also set up quarantine and isolation areas both on and off campus.

Dybdahl explained that there are several hundred quarantine spaces on campus or in Madison area hotels.

Those areas are reserved for students who may have been exposed to COVID-19. However, isolation spaces are reserved for those who have tested positive for the virus.

“We have several hundred isolation spaces in residence hall buildings that have been set aside for this purpose and students would be placed there for 10 days until they are cleared to come back to the residence halls,” Dybdahl said.

Dybdahl added that residents who break the rules consistently will be disciplined, but the consequences could differ depending on each situation.

The Enforcement

With thousand of students coming back to UW-System campuses someone must enforce the rules.

According to University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Director of Communications Marc Lovicott, neither campus, nor city police officers are responsible for checking up on COVID-19 health complaints.

During a phone conversation with NBC15 News, Lovicott said officers will only get involved if a situation related to a health complaint got violent

So, it’s up to each school and the county health departments to make sure students follow the rules.

At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the administration has been promoting a clear message to students before classes even began.

“The biggest thing we are stressing is the ‘three double-ues,’ wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. That’s a message that Chancellor [Dennis] Shields and others have given to our campus community and to the city of Platteville,” UW-Platteville Public Information Officer Paul Erickson said.

Chancellor Shields took it upon himself to check in with students to make sure students understood what was expected of them.

“Chancellor Shields went out on Saturday night at 10 o’clock, to the fraternities and sororities, went around and knocked on doors and made sure people knew this was important. If we want to keep on campus classes, it’s on all of us,” Erickson said.

Erickson also said if a UW-Platteville student is caught breaking the COVID-19 rules, each case is handled by the Dean’s office.

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