UW-Madison will expand their COVID-19 testing initiatives during the Spring semester to require all campus employees, as well as all students who live on campus, attend in-person classes or visit campus spaces to be tested twice per week.
Testing will continue to be made available for students throughout the Fall 2020 semester by appointment or through participation in surveillance testing. Previously, testing was only required this semester for students living in residence halls and housing and food service employees.
“I am pleased that we will be able to expand our testing in January,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a release. “This will help us identify any students or staff who are ill much more quickly.”
With the new testing efforts in place, Spring 2020 courses will entail a hybrid mix of in-person and online instruction. While classes with 50 or more students will be completely virtual, less populated courses will have the opportunity to be in-person and will meet in large lecture spaces to accommodate social distancing.
"I continue to feel strongly that face-to-face instruction, with stringent safety protocols, provides an invaluable learning opportunity for students and instructors who choose that option," Provost Karl Scholz said in a release. "Many students prefer and many programs rely on aspects of instruction that are most effectively provided in-person and sometimes cannot be replicated remotely. As we have noted, the university tracks every positive virus case among our employees."
Classes will commence for the Spring 2021 semester on Jan. 25, almost a week later than the second semester usually starts, as Spring break has been eliminated this year to reduce the spread of COVID-19 caused by potential travel during the hiatus.
Residence halls will also be open for the spring semester starting on Jan. 23, with separate isolation spaces for students who test positive for COVID-19 and quarantine facilities for students who came in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual available.
In this announcement, the university also declared enrollment for the Spring 2021 semester will occur after final exams in late December through early January with a break from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.