Important information before returning to Madison

To our UW undergraduate students,

COVID-19 continues to spread quickly across our nation, state and community.  Dane County is experiencing “community spread” – which means the spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.  As of today, Dane County has had more than 30 cases of COVID-19 and we anticipate that number to continue to rise.

As Spring Break comes to an end, we strongly encourage undergraduate students to return to or stay at your permanent residence rather than returning to Madison when instruction resumes via alternate delivery on Monday. (This assumes you can return to your permanent residence safely and can continue your coursework from there with strong internet service.)

The situation is serious and we urge you to treat it as such.

Adding to the complexity, we are aware that some states like California, Illinois and New York are asking residents to shelter in place or stay at home.

We know some students will opt to stay in or return to Madison, including many graduate and professional students. The residence hall move-out process continues and University Housing will send more information if that changes.

We want students to clearly understand what to expect in Madison going forward:

This week, Governor Evers ordered all restaurants and bars to be closed for in-house dining and banned events of more than 10 people. Numerous businesses and services are closed and many grocery stores are operating under limited hours. All Madison residents should plan to stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

For those returning from Spring Break or those who have remained in Madison, we ask that you self-monitor for changes in their health. This includes:

  • Actively monitor for fever (100.4 F or above), cough, and shortness of breath.
  • If your symptoms change dramatically, contact your health care provider immediately. Call ahead before going to any clinic, urgent care, or emergency department.
  • Students in Madison can call UHS at 608-265-5600 and describe their symptoms.
  • If you have been tested for or were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, a public health official will contact you regularly for symptom updates and instructions for next steps.
  • In addition to self-monitoring, all students are urged to practice social distancing.

For students remaining on campus, in either residence halls, University Apartments, fraternity and sorority housing or off-campus housing, University Health Services (UHS) remains open, with limited clinical operations. Drop-in appointments for medical and mental health services are not available. We are expanding telehealth appointments. Please call 608-265-5600 to schedule appointments. If you arrive at UHS, you will be screened upon entry and may be asked to wear a mask.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Campus has shifted to essential operations and services and RecWell and the Wisconsin Union have closed to avoid face-to-face interactions. The Libraries are supporting distance education and research, but have closed their physical footprint, other than to loan laptops and share material) in the lobby of Memorial Library.

Limited food options are still available: https://covid19.wisc.edu/faqs/#c19-faq-dining and https://union.wisc.edu/about/covid19/ “

We recognize this is a challenging time for many, especially those who have been displaced from their residences, travel and study abroad programs, and communities, or those who are awaiting answers about your student employment. If you are experiencing anxiety related to events surrounding COVID-19, SilverCloud is an online, self-guided, interactive mental health resource that provides UW-Madison students with accessible treatment options 24 hours a day. The crisis line (608-265-5600, option 9) remains available 24/7.

For up-to-date information, please review the website and FAQ’s at covid19.wisc.edu. We commit to keep you updated as best we can as the situation unfolds.

Jake Baggott
Executive Director, University Health Services
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs