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Roadmap for Students

How to Prepare

Lincoln Statue in front of Bascom Hall

In-Person Courses

A face covering is required for in-person courses, for interior campus spaces and for outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible. Some late evening and/or Saturday morning classes may be necessary to help reduce density on campus.

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Campus & Community Living

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Health & Safety

Preserving the health of the campus community is a broadly shared responsibility. UW–Madison’s strategy will rely on a rigorous approach to testing, cleaning, face covering and symptom monitoring. Strong safety protocols will be in place for fall.

paddleboarder doing yoga on a calm Lake Mendota with Picnic Point in background


School of Education Building with red doors
  • Undergraduate students will have access to a mixture of in-person and remote classes.
  • Learning support programs will be widely available through remote options.
  • Lectures with 50 or more students will be delivered remotely; smaller discussions sections and classes may be offered in-person, remotely, or a combination.
  • Office hours with professors, instructors, as well as individual and group academic advising opportunities, will largely be held remotely.

The Wisconsin Experience

Two extraordinary classes will be offered this fall for first-year students, addressing social issues of the day: Forward: Pandemic, Resilience, and the Wisconsin Idea; and Purposeful Action: Parkland, Protest and You, offering both in-person and remote discussions. Learn more.

Recognizing that small-group experiences are crucial to new students, the university will offer a robust array of its popular First-Year Interest Groups (FIGS), both in person and virtually.

a student gathering on library mall at night time with the Wisconsin State Capitol in the background

Frequently Asked Questions

Our students and families have posed more questions than we’ve had time to address in recent townhall meetings. Here are answers to the top 10 questions you’ve asked about health and safety, as well as advising, instruction, and tuition. If your question is not answered here, we encourage to email us at, and we will do our best to find the answers you need.

Health and Safety

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Will COVID-19 testing be mandatory? For students living off-campus, too? Should students get tested before they come to campus? What if a student has previously tested positive? What about self-tests? How are positive tests being tracked?

  • Students living in the residence halls are required to get tested upon arriving on campus. For students living off-campus, we strongly encourage, but are not requiring, immediate testing.
  • Bi-weekly testing is required for students who live in University Housing (residence halls). For students who live off-campus, unlimited, no-cost testing is available. It is not required but it is recommended.
  • Students who have previously tested positive can report this information in their MyUHS account at Once logged in, click “Messages,” “New Message,” “COVID outside reporting” to share lab results. Students can also report by calling 608-890-0000. Follow the prompts to report. Additional questions? E-mail
  • In cases where a student has previously had COVID and continues to test positive, that student may be required to isolate until they can provide UHS with records from their healthcare provider.
  • Every day a student (or faculty/staff/visitor) plans to be on campus, that person is requested to first access our online Health Screen tool to check for possible COVID symptoms. This takes most people less than 1 minute.
  • Self-testing is an option that campus is looking into; however, we will not be requiring this at the start of the fall semester. If self-testing becomes available to students, we will communicate specific guidance to students and provide support.
  • Data on the numbers of positive and negative tests is available on our COVID-19 dashboard. These data include all students tested on campus, whether they live in the residence halls or off-campus, as well as those tested at off-campus sites in Dane County.  Students tested outside of Dane County are requested to report their results.  UW contact tracers will follow up with those who have a positive result.
Last updated 10:13 PM, August 31, 2020

How will public health rules be enforced?

  • The City of Madison, Dane County, and UW-Madison all have public safety rules in place that students are required to follow. Violation of Dane County rules prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors can result in large fines. Violation of campus rules can result in suspension or dismissal from the university.
  • We are in regular communication with the students to ensure that they know these rules and understand the consequences for violating them, and we are requiring students to sign a Badger Pledge indicating that they understand their important role in controlling the spread of COVID and ensuring that the campus can remain open, and pledging to wear a face covering and adhere to public safety rules.
  • All bars in Madison are closed to indoor patrons and fraternities/sororities have prohibited events that involve alcohol and pledged to follow all city, county, and campus rules for public safety.
  • Concerns about possible violations by individuals/groups can be reported to UW-Madison.
Last updated 10:14 PM, August 31, 2020

What should a student do if they develop symptoms? Whom do they notify? What if it’s at night or on a weekend, will testing sites still be open?

  • We encourage students to use the UW-Madison online health screening tool every day that they plan to be on campus. It will provide further guidance from UHS for anyone whose responses indicate possible COVID symptoms. The screen takes most people less than 1 minute to complete.
  • If a student is in Madison and develops symptoms, they should contact University Health Services at 608-265-5600 before coming to the clinic. They should try to self-quarantine, practice good hygiene, sanitize high-touch or commonly used surfaces, and continue to monitor their symptoms until they can be evaluated by a provider for specific guidance.
  • If a student contacts UHS outside of normal business hours, they will be connected to the 24/7 nurse advice line.
  • Locations and hours for our campus-based testing sites.
  • The Madison and Dane County public health office is also offering free testing. Locations and hours.


Last updated 10:16 PM, August 31, 2020

What is the process if a student in the residence halls tests positive?

  • Spaces will be set aside for isolation of residents if a student tests positive for COVID-19 or has come in close contact with someone who has tested positive
    • During isolation, students must stay in their relocated room for at least 10 days
    • Students may be encouraged to return home for the isolation period if they are able to do so
  • UW-Madison will employ contact tracers trained in conjunction with Public Health Madison & Dane County to help identify those who may have come into contact with anyone testing positive on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Individuals determined to have been exposed may be asked to quarantine for 14 days. Students in this situation who live in the residence halls will be provided with a safe and comfortable space to quarantine.
Last updated 10:17 PM, August 31, 2020

When a student has to be isolated or quarantined, how are they provided with medical care and food?

  • Care for these students in University Housing will happen in collaboration with University Health Services. UHS will have a health check-in for students daily (most likely through a virtual visit). If their health or needs change, students should contact UHS immediately. Residence Life staff will check in periodically (virtually) with these students to see if any additional support is needed.
  • Dining services run by University Housing will deliver three meals a day and snacks to Housing students in isolation spaces. Students in isolation will receive an online order form that will allow them to order meals and snacks. The student will be able to note any food allergies or dietary restrictions, and Dining will be able to accommodate any noted need.
  • Students in quarantine will receive meals from the location where they are staying (for example Union South is providing meals to students quarantined at that location). Those facilities will provide menus for students to order from and are also able to accommodate any food allergies or dietary needs
  • For students who live off campus, contact tracing staff will be in touch with resources and guidance for self-quarantine. We encourage students who live off campus to create and share a plan with their roommates, friends, and family members in the event that they test positive for COVID-19.
Last updated 3:22 PM, September 1, 2020

What about isolation/quarantine for students living off-campus?

  • Neither the campus nor Public Health Madison Dane County (PHMDC) has the capacity to provide quarantine/isolation spaces for students who are not living in University Housing.
  • We recommend that these students speak with their roommates to develop, and agree on, how they will handle the situation if a roommate develops symptoms and/or has a positive COVID test. We recommend starting with guidance from PHMDC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offers information for people living in close quarters and recommendations for cleaning shared spaces.
  • For graduate students living in University Apartments and who already have a lease, campus can work with residents if they need space.
  • Our off-campus students will have full access to University Health Services, and we will work with them, in cooperation with the local public health department, to conduct contact tracing.
Last updated 10:18 PM, August 31, 2020

How do students get medical care after hours or on a weekend?

  • UHS is open during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.
  • We have a 24/7 nurse advice line and mental health crisis line for concerns that arise after hours. Call 608-265-5600.
  • If a student has an urgent health concern in the evening or on a weekend, they can call the nurse advice line or, if they are dealing with an emergency, they should go to a local emergency room. There are three Madison hospitals within a 10-minute drive of the UW-Madison campus. Students are responsible for their own transportation.
Last updated 10:19 PM, August 31, 2020

How should a student handle their classes if they become ill?

  • Students should be in regular contact with their professors, as always, and should notify them in the event that they are unable to complete their course work as planned. The instructor will work with the student to provide alternative ways to complete the work.
  • At the same time, the university will employ contact tracers and notify any person who might have been in contact with the student so that they can self-quarantine.
Last updated 10:20 PM, August 31, 2020

If I decide not to live on-campus for the fall semester, can I apply for housing for spring?

  • Yes, but we cannot guarantee availability.
  • The application for spring housing in the residence halls will be available in MyUWHousing after the start of the fall semester.
Last updated 4:21 PM, July 28, 2020

How will campus decide whether to pivot and close the campus again?

  • If our testing and monitoring data indicate a rising level of infection that creates a public health threat, we will take steps to close all or parts of campus, returning to virtual work and instruction as needed. This will be in consultation with UW System Administration, which is monitoring the situation at all campuses in the UW System.
  • There is no single criterion that will push us to make a decision about reversing or scaling down our plans. We are monitoring several quantitative and qualitative factors – these include the percentage of people testing positive and capacity in our on-campus isolation and quarantine spaces, and broader community measures such as the county’s percentage of people testing positive and the capacity of our health care system. We will also continue to receive advice from infectious disease experts here on campus as they help us monitor what is happening.
Last updated 1:44 AM, September 4, 2020

Advising, instruction and tuition

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What percent of classes are online versus in person?

45% of classes have an in-person component. Of those, 37% are fully in-person, and 8% are a hybrid of online and in-person. Update: The university has paused all in-person instruction from Sept. 10-25 and made other changes to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Last updated 9:48 AM, September 11, 2020

Why is my small class only being offered online?

  • First, because of the limitations of our facilities. In many cases, a smaller class is online because we do not have a workable space in which to teach it.  Our smaller classrooms typically seat 25; with physical distancing in place, they will seat 8.
  • They may also be online because smaller classes are frequently requirements for capstones and for seniors to complete their majors, and knowing that some of these students will need, or want, to have a fully remote schedule, we want to offer the class in the modality that is most accessible for students who need it in order to graduate in December or May.
Posted on 7:15 PM, July 27, 2020

What safety measures will be in place for in-person classes?

  • All students moving into campus residence halls received free safety kits with reusable Badger face coverings (designed by a team of experts right here on campus), hand sanitizer, and information on safety. Students living off-campus can pick up their free kits at University Bookstore. More information is available here:
  • We have cleaning supplies for people to use in the classroom and will require all students to wear face coverings and to maintain 6 feet of space between them.
  • In addition, classes will be moved into classrooms that can accommodate appropriate physical distancing. This will mean that we will run some classes in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Last updated 10:22 PM, August 31, 2020

How do I change from in-person to remote (or vice versa)?

  • Students can find available options using the Course Search and Enrollment app where they find their course schedule. For each class they will be able to see the modality (classroom instruction, online with some in-person, or online only), along with meeting times and class notes.
  • If a student is not able to find the courses they need in the modality they want after going through the steps found at,
  • they should contact their advisor. Advisors are likely receiving many requests for help right now, so there might be a delay in their response and longer wait times for an appointment.
Last updated 3:37 PM, August 31, 2020

What campus services will be running? Libraries, unions, computer labs, recreation facilities?

  • We are reopening as many of these spaces as we are safely able to.
  • We developed a directory of campus spaces – and their respective resources – available this fall to support students participating in remote courses and related course activities such as remote quizzes, exams and other assessments, including proctored exams. The rooms will provide students with dedicated spaces and reliable internet access to complete coursework. Rooms will be distributed across campus, with a mix of drop-in and reservation-based spaces. Students will also be able to request private and semi-private spaces, rooms with computers and long-term access to rooms to support their remote learning throughout the semester. Access will be prioritized based on student needs.
  • Libraries will be open for appointment-based access to collections, study space and computer lab services. In order to improve safety (block off time for cleaning, for example), there will be a reduction in library locations and hours, and increased support through online services. We remain committed to providing library support for learning and research, but in general students should expect limited capacity in the library buildings and should plan to do studying in their residences as much as possible.
  • Most computer labs (InfoLabs) will be open but some will require reservations, and all will have reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. For information on which computer labs are open, and services available at each (including equipment check-out), visit the InfoLab locations page.
  • The student unions (Union South and Memorial Union, along with the Union Terrace) will be open only to UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff this fall. To enter, each person must show a valid Wiscard.
    • The spaces in our unions will be largely converted into quiet places for study (available on a first come, first served basis) as well as space for classes.
    • Limited meeting spaces for student organizations will be available by reservation. Contact
    • For a list of dining options in the unions and available purchase methods, visit
    • The Wiscard office at Union South will be open in person.
  • Recreation/wellness facilities will be open as follows:
    • The Shell is open for students, faculty, and staff for cardio equipment, track, weight lifting, circuit work, and stretching. Other in-person programs and activities will become available when deemed safe. Reservations (70-minute maximum) are required and can be booked by logging in.
      • Occupancy will initially be limited to 25% and masks will be required at all times.
    • Nielsen Tennis Stadium is open for students, faculty, and staff (singles tennis only). Reservations are required.
      • Occupancy will initially be limited to 25% and masks will be required at all times.
    • The Nicholas Recreation Center is expected to open in a limited capacity on Monday, September 14, with fitness and weightlifting spaces available. The pool will not be available.
    • The opening of the Soderholm Family Aquatic Center is expected to be delayed until early to mid-October.
  • Visit for a list of virtual programs, including group fitness classes, intramural sports, at-home workouts, personal training, e-sports leagues, and well-being resources.
  • We’ve compiled some additional resources for navigating campus this fall.
Last updated 3:21 PM, September 3, 2020

What opportunities will there be for practicums/internships for students?

  • These opportunities are being determined at the discretion of the deans of each school and college, in consultation with departments. A team of campus experts in field courses – including clinical, education, agricultural, and community-based courses – developed guidance and resources for schools and colleges on how to delivery these types of courses.
Last updated 10:32 PM, August 31, 2020

What happens if a student sits out for 1–2 semesters? Can they re-enroll?

  • Students who are new to UW–Madison need to consult with The Office of Admissions and Recruitment.
  • Continuing students should consult with their academic advisor. There are many factors to consider before making the decision.
Last updated 1:44 PM, August 6, 2020

What do I do if there is a course I need to graduate, that is not offered in the modality (online or in-person) that I need?

Students in this situation should contact their advisor directly to discuss options. Students can find their advisor using this tool

Last updated 10:33 PM, August 31, 2020

Why is tuition not being lowered when all my classes are remote? Can I switch to in-person classes?

  • While many aspects of the fall semester look different than in the past, students at UW-Madison are still receiving a top-tier education with some of the most highly regarded instructors in their fields. Our faculty and instructors spent the summer working to create courses that are engaging and will meet learning objectives, regardless of the course delivery mode.
  • The cost of educating our students has actually increased as a result of COVID-19. We are employing the same outstanding faculty and instructional staff and working hard to put in place testing and other campus-safety measures while also making large investments in technology.
  • Remember that the value of a UW-Madison degree has not changed. We are proud to be one of the top public universities in the country, and the degrees we confer are a signal of excellence, whether or not the student completed a portion their coursework remotely.
Last updated 10:33 PM, August 31, 2020

How has remote learning improved from last spring?

  • In spring, the quick pivot to remote learning made it difficult to invest the time and resources needed to create ideal learning environments.  To meet the challenge of enhancing the quality of instruction, we have made major investments to improve course design and remote learning experiences.
  • Our faculty and instructors spent the summer working on curriculum design and consulting with technology experts to create courses that are engaging and will meet learning objectives, regardless of the course delivery mode.
Last updated 10:35 PM, August 31, 2020

Emergency funds are available for all students

Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid for financial assistance with food, housing, health insurance, academic or mental health support, and more — regardless of citizenship, status, or residency for tuition purposes. There are also many basic needs resources here in Madison and beyond. UW–Madison received federal CARES Act funds to support students.

Respect Statement

All members of the UW–Madison community deserve to feel welcome, valued and safe. We do not tolerate harassment and discrimination, and racist behaviors and stereotyping are inconsistent with the values of UW–Madison. The Office of Compliance and Dean of Students Office provide resources and reporting options for students, faculty and staff.