UW- Madison directs undergrad students to restrict in-person interactions, movements

UW-Madison students are being asked to quarantine for two weeks following a spike in new COVID-19 cases linked to campus.
Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 3:17 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The chancellor of University of Wisconsin- Madison is directing students to restrict in-person interactions and limit movement for only essential activities for two weeks.

The directive is in effect through 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, according to a news release. The restrictions do not apply to graduate students, faculty or staff members.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank said testing statistics from the past few days have “not been good” and threaten the ability for the university to continue the semester in-person. Blank continued saying a growing number of the COVID-19 cases detected have been particularly among students living off-campus and can be linked to situations where people did not wear face coverings or practice physical distancing.

“We see this reflected in the data, but it’s also apparent in social media posts and in conversations with students who have tested positive,” said Blank.

The following activities were seen as essential by the university:

  • Participating in academic activities such as class, studying or research. In-person classes will continue and study spaces will stay open, the chancellor said.
  • Getting a COVID-19 test or other medical appointment.
  • Buying food.
  • Going to an on- or off- campus job
  • Doing an individual, outdoor activity such as walking or running.
  • Attending a religious observance.

The chancellor noted that the university needs to flatten the curve of infection, or they could lose the opportunity to have an in-person semester.

The university continued saying all in-person social events are cancelled, union dining facilities will be carry-out only and no visitors will be allowed in the dining hall. The university also noted that all student meetings, with the exception of in-person and hybrid classes, are to be canceled and all RecWell facilities will also be closed for the next two weeks.

UW- System President Tommy Thompson issued a statement Monday, saying Chancellor Blank is taking prudent steps to try to mitigate outbreaks.

“Like other universities throughout the nation, UW-Madison is taking aggressive actions to adapt to the circumstances informed by its testing strategies,” Thompson said. “We knew there would most likely be an increase in early cases and today’s decision, while inconvenient to students, is necessary.”

NBC15 spoke to students reacting to the new order. “It was a little disappointing but I think it’s a lot better than having to go home, pack up all our stuff and not coming back to campus so I think its a good plan,” said Carly Kenyon, incoming freshman.

Another incoming freshman, Kara Conrad says she isn’t surprised that the virus is being linked to campus.

“I’ve definitely seen people walking around our building without mask...I wont even see it in their hand,” said Conrad.

Other students wonder how the quarantine order could be enforced but say they hope things get better and that campus doesn’t end up having to shut down.

Chancellor Blank thanked the students who have been following public health guidelines by monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms, using face coverings and socially distancing.

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