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Monday, March 20, 2023
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Chancellor Mnookin responds to open COVID letter

Chancellor Mnookin responded to an open letter from University of Wisconsin-Madison students, faculty and staff seeking improvements to COVID-19 protocols and policies at the university.

In the letter, COVID protocols at UW-Madison were compared to those at the University of California, Los Angeles, where Mnookin was the former Law School Dean.

"We urge UW-Madison to implement an expanded, comprehensive mitigation approach that builds on successful UW-Madison policies and implements additional protective measures like those currently in place at UCLA and outlined in the UCLA Table of Mitigation Recommendations and Requirements and UCLA COVID 19 Prevention Program for Workplaces,” the letter reads. 

The letter was given to Mnookin at the ice cream social welcome event in early August. Dan Fitch, who works at UW-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds, gave the letter. He also helped write the letter with the campus labor union United Faculty and Academic Staff.

“I just was given the letter here today, so I haven't had a chance to take a look at it,” Mnookin told the Cap Times at the event. “What I will say is that I will be listening very carefully to public health professionals, just as Becky Blank did, to try to find the balance between keeping our community safe, but also protecting the education and the strength of the experience of being here as best as we possibly can.”

On August 6, Mnookin released an official statement in response to the open letter. She explained her plans for the COVID protocols from here moving forward.

“We have lived with this virus for more than two years, adapting to ever-changing circumstances, sometimes at great sacrifice. We also operate, here at UW — as at every university — in the context of broader local, state, and national responses to the virus, and of course those, too, continue to change and evolve,” the statement reads. “I also note that not every protocol written on the page ends up working entirely as expected in practice.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dane County is at a low community transmission level as of September 7. The CDC recommends staying up to date on vaccinations, along with getting tested if symptoms arise. 

“UW-Madison is monitoring COVID-19 in our community and working closely with state and local public health officials,” the UW-Madison COVID response team said. “There are no changes to campus policy at this time, though public health officials recommend everyone stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination.”

Campus policy recommends that students get tested when they notice symptoms, along with staying up to date on vaccinations and wearing masks in indoor spaces. 

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