Thompson wants 75% of fall UW classes in-person

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 11:31 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 10:22 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson says he wants 75% of classes to be taught in-person this fall.

Thompson wrote in a column released to the public Thursday that he’s directed system campuses to ensure students will have what he called “as classic a UW campus experience as possible.”

In this March 18, 2016 photo, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson addresses the crowd at a...
In this March 18, 2016 photo, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson addresses the crowd at a town hall meeting at the River Steel plant in West Salem, Wis. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)(Charles Rex Arbogast | AP)

“We’ve got to up our game. We’ve got to improve it for the students,” he told reporters.

“I think it’s risky,” Mary Bundalo, a student at UW-Madison, said. “But I think it’s a good decision for mental health and getting us back on track, only if it’s safe, of course. With vaccines maybe it’s viable.”

At the current rate of vaccination, Thompson believes campuses will reach the level required for herd immunity before September. Currently, the system reports COVID-19 infection rates are below 1 percent.

Thompson says the system’s aggressive testing protocols, social distancing and masks have kept COVID-19 infection rates low.

Students at UW-Madison have to prove they’re COVID-negative before entering buildings and must get tested every three days. University officials even wrote to students this week, in part, “If you miss multiple tests, or if there is a pattern of missing tests, sanctions could be applied.”

Thompson explained, “You agreed to be tested. You also agreed that if you’re not tested, you’re not eligible to go to class. That’s the sanction.”

Students have called these measures everything from “necessary” to “frustrating,” but they agree it’s part of the path forward.

“If that’s what it takes to have all in-person classes, I’d totally be okay with that,” Morgan Baeten, a UW-Madison student, said.

A university spokesperson told NBC15 officials haven’t made any decisions about COVID protocols for the fall, but they do anticipate there will be some on-campus testing. Further details would depend on public health guidance.

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