As UW-Madison gears up for an in-person fall semester, the university has modified its coronavirus response and protocol for the summer.
Beginning May 10, several aspects of the current COVID-19 response will be adjusted for the summer months.
The university still expects that the campus community maintains green badges as they encourage individuals to get tested once a week and seek out the COVID-19 vaccination; however, campus buildings and facilities will no longer be supervised by Badger Wellness Ambassadors. Furthermore, a green Badger Badge will only be required for certain spaces and events. Although guests and visitors will be allowed to attend university events — unless stated otherwise by event organizers — third-party events are not permitted on-campus for the summer.
Increased vaccination rates and warmer temperatures informed the UW’s decision, according to an email sent out to students Monday.
Additionally, on-campus testing will exclusively use PCR-based nasal swab testing on a drop-in basis at several testing sites, similar to how the protocol was for the Fall 2020 semester. This is a deviation from the spring 2021 semester, where off-campus students were required to do a spit test twice a week unless they had COVID-19 within the last three months or were fully vaccinated.
ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick is “surprised” that the university is eliminating the green Badger Badge requirement to enter campus spaces.
“I believe that less stringent testing is okay,” Mitnick said, underscoring that he is happy to see that the university will continue to offer COVID-19 tests. But Mitnick believes that having either a recent negative test on file or a record of vaccination remains critical to ensure campus safety.
University Health Services will continue to offer free vaccination appointments throughout the summer to UW-Madison students and employees. Students who were enrolled during the spring but not during summer — such as graduating students this semester — will still qualify for the university’s allotted vaccinations.
Fully vaccinated individuals who provide proof of vaccination are exempt from required COVID-19 testing two weeks after their final dose. Campus community members vaccinated on campus will be automatically exempt, but those who receive their shots off-campus must report their records to UHS.
Vaccine appointments will open to incoming students “as soon as feasible in advance of the 2021 fall semester,” according to the university.
As of Wednesday, 26,116 students and employees received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. And, as more students leave campus for the summer, the university will begin allowing visitors on campus. In-person campus tours will begin after Commencement, and visitors and members of the public will be allowed in campus buildings and facilities, such as the Memorial Union Terrace and RecWell facilities.
Throughout the pandemic, the Wisconsin Union was one of the many on-campus organizations affected by public health guidelines and university policies intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Union had to alter all aspects of their businesses and organizations in order to adhere to public health guidelines, said Communications Director Shauna Breneman.
“We modified how we provide events by providing them mostly virtually, but our student leaders and staff members’ dedication to providing events and activities never wavered,” Breneman said, underscoring that the organization will continue to prioritize health and safety as the Union begins to open up their facilities and spaces to the public.
“As always, we will go above and beyond in ensuring we can provide enjoyable, safe experiences for a lifetime at Union South, Memorial Union and the Memorial Union Terrace,” continued Breneman. “We are grateful to be able to safely and thoughtfully welcome our members and guests back to our buildings.”
Registered student organizations, as well as school, college and division gatherings will begin to follow the most current Public Health Madison & Dane County Emergency Order instead of university-specific policies regarding in-person gatherings that have been used throughout the academic year, UW-Madison said.
Face masks will be required for all indoor gatherings, but are not required for outdoor gatherings if physical distancing is possible. Food and beverages will be allowed at events and must be pre-packaged or served by university catering staff.
Sponsored activities and gatherings will not require prior approval from the university unless they fall outside of campus, PHMDC or CDC policies and guidelines.
As the end of the spring semester fast approaches, the university maintains that it is critical that the campus community continues to adhere to public health guidelines. This is crucial to complete the semester safely and to ensure that graduating students can gather in Camp Randall for in-person graduation ceremonies on May 8.