Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced on Friday UW-Madison’s new testing initiatives and the unveiling of the Safer Badgers app, as the university plans for some in-person instruction during the spring 2021 semester.
Just over two weeks before instruction starts on Jan. 25, Blank updated the UW-Madison community with the university’s plans for students’ return to campus in an email.
To combat an early spike in cases, as occurred in the early weeks of the fall 2020 semester, Blank urged students to minimize activities outside of their homes for 10 days before traveling back to Madison.
Upon students’ arrival back to campus, they are encouraged to limit their interactions to only essential activities until they receive two negative COVID-19 on-campus test results.
Students who live in residence halls will be required to complete a COVID-19 test on campus on their arrival day. Off-campus students living in Madison are required to complete one on-campus test before classes start on Jan. 25 and two tests before Jan 31.
All students will be required to get tested twice weekly throughout the semester.
Students can schedule tests using the Safer Badgers app or the website, a free program aimed to help students access COVID-19 test scheduling, COVID-19 test results and health information.
The app’s Badger Badge will be students’ key to campus facilities, as it will display the user’s building access status, including if the student has a negative test within four days, is not required to be in quarantine or isolation and does not report experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Safer Badgers will also notify users if they have been in proximity of another individual who uses the app who tested positive for COVID-19. Notifications regarding COVID-19 positive individuals are anonymous, and the email noted how Safer Badgers does not track users’ locations on or off-campus.
In terms of how students will be tested, many of the nasal swab testing that occurred during the fall semester will be replaced with new saliva-based tests, which will be available starting the week of Jan. 11 at on-campus sites. As more students return to campus more testing sites will open and testing will be available seven days a week.
Saliva-based testing is free for students and faculty and results are available within 24 hours.
Members of the UW-Madison community can tune in to the virtual forum on Wed. Jan. 13 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST where university administrators will discuss these new initiatives.