Brittney Williams / Clarion
The University of Wisconsin – Madison faced some backlash when students returned to campus in late August. A week prior, some students, professors, and staff asked for Chancellor Rebecca Blank to move classes fully online before freshmen moved into residence halls.
As of Sept. 9, all classes (excluding clinical training) have moved online until Sept. 25. This follows the positive test rate amongst students reaching 20 percent or greater for two days, reflecting a rise in COVID-19 cases both on and off campus. This is despite contact tracing having not shown cases to have been increased by in-person instruction. Undergraduate research that cannot be completed remotely and all graduate and post-doctoral research will be allowed to continue.
Additionally, the Witte and Sellery Residence Halls are quarantined until at least Sept. 23. While students were allowed to quarantine at home after being tested, those who have chosen to stay have received regular testing on-site with positive students being transferred to an isolation space to prevent further spread. If positive cases are discovered during the two-week period, the quarantine is likely to be extended, the University of Wisconsin – Madison announced.
Those in the residence halls receive predetermined food options. However, this food is free, and dietary accommodations are able to be made. House Fellows check in with students virtually on a regular basis, and mental health resources are provided for those struggling with isolation. The University of Wisconsin – Madison is also carefully watching security cameras in both halls in an effort to deter students from violating the health policies in place.
On Sept. 4, nine fraternities and sororities were quarantined due to 38 of 420 members testing positive for COVID-19 after returning to campus and having parties or gatherings. While the students originally had to remain in their homes for two weeks, each time someone in a house tests positive, the timer restarts; this remains the case even if everyone else in the house tests negative.
Despite these issues early in the school year, the University of Wisconsin – Madison says it is closely monitoring the pandemic and will continue to take precautions as the data dictates.