What to expect this fall

Thanks to encouraging progress in the fight against COVID-19 driven by strong participation in vaccination on campus and in the broader community, we are looking ahead to reuniting this fall.

Vaccination rates are high and case rates are low, giving us confidence we can move ahead with plans to resume more typical campus operations. Most classes will be back in person and most activities will resume. We know vaccination is the best way we can protect ourselves and others and will continue to offer no-cost vaccination for employees, students and the public.

Read more about some of the changes for fall 2021 in the chancellor’s June 24 message. We’ll be updating this page as more information becomes available.

Virtual Events

In our first event, campus health experts discussed how to prepare for these changes and reunite safely. The next sessions will take place July 22 and August 12.

More information

Housing & International Students

To help students prepare for the upcoming academic year at UW–Madison, review general information for international students. In addition, University Housing and International Student Services (ISS) have developed FAQs for the fall semester. Visit the Fall 2021 Housing FAQs and the ISS COVID-19 Updates for more details.

Courses, toolkits and more

The Office of Human Resources offers a variety of tools and resources to support supervisors and employees during this time. The Learning and Talent Development team has created a collection of free 60- to 90-minute courses that focus on topics such as navigating change, having tough conversations with colleagues and supervisors, managing and working with a hybrid team, practicing mind and body wellness, and more. Professional Development has created new resources and will be adding more as we get closer to fall.

FAQS

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Will I need a booster shot to maintain protection against COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continue to study and collect information regarding the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines over time, and in the context of new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. As of late June 2021, there was no recommendation for boosters. Campus will continue to follow public health guidance and will be prepared to offer boosters if they are recommended at a future date.

Last updated 11:24 AM, July 1, 2021

I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?

Even people who recovered from COVID-19 should get vaccinated. Evidence suggests that antibodies from natural infection may not be as robust or long-lasting as those from vaccination. Studies also suggest vaccination may offer better protection against new variants than those from a natural infection. Undergraduate students living in campus residence halls are required to test for COVID-19 if UHS does not have proof of vaccination. Previous infection does not meet this requirement. Students should ensure they submit proof of vaccination to UHS or authorize UHS to access their immunization record.

Posted on 11:22 AM, July 1, 2021

I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With variants like Delta, do I need to get a booster with an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer)?

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services do not recommend additional vaccination for people who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine provides strong protection from Covid-19, and in individuals who do experience breakthrough infection, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine helps protect against severe disease and hospitalization, rendering it similar to other types of respiratory illness. Evidence also suggests vaccinated people are unlikely to transmit the virus to others. UHS, along with other vaccine providers in the state, are not offering second doses of any vaccine to individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Please do not show up to the vaccine clinic to receive a second dose if you have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as staff will not be able to provide you with another dose. The university will continue to monitor related national and state guidance.

Posted on 8:49 AM, July 8, 2021

Why aren’t unvaccinated students living off campus, or unvaccinated employees, required to test regularly?

Unvaccinated students who live off campus and unvaccinated employees pose a very low risk to those in the community who are vaccinated. Because our vaccination rates are very high as well as the rates in Dane County, the unvaccinated population will benefit in many ways from the protection of a highly vaccinated community.

Though unvaccinated students who live off campus and unvaccinated employees are not required to test, they are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Vaccination against COVID-19 has contributed to reduced virus transmission, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths in the United States. As of June 2021, data suggests the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are now occurring among unvaccinated people. While the vaccinated population has the highest level of protection and are not at any increased risk while functioning in a society or in close proximity to unvaccinated people, those that are unvaccinated are still at risk when they are around other unvaccinated people.

UW–Madison is offering convenient, no-cost vaccination for all employees and students, including students living off campus. Again, vaccination rates in Dane County and on campus are high, but since unvaccinated people remain at elevated risk of coming down with and transmitting COVID-19 while around others who are unvaccinated, UW–Madison encourages all unvaccinated people to continue following best public health guidance, which includes wearing a mask, physical distancing where possible and testing for COVID-19 when they have symptoms or concerns until they are fully vaccinated (two weeks following a one-shot, or the second of a two-shot vaccine).

Unvaccinated students living in congregate settings on campus are required to test as a condition of their contracts, given the increased risks associated with being unvaccinated in congregate living settings. This allows UW–Madison to isolate students who test positive and help limit the spread of COVID-19 in on-campus housing among unvaccinated students. If you are vaccinated off campus, please share your vaccination status through the secure MyUHS portal, or grant UHS access to their vaccination record, to help do your part to create a safe and welcoming environment. Learn how to share your vaccine record with UHS.

Last updated 11:01 AM, July 13, 2021

I have a disability or underlying medical condition as identified by the CDC that puts me at greater risk of serious illness and I am not comfortable being on campus. What can I do?

Please be aware that a majority of employees and students have already received at least one dose and many are fully vaccinated. You may continue to wear a mask if you wish.

For employees: If you have specific concerns related to a medical condition/disability that you have, please talk to your Divisional Disability Representative) (DDR) about an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees who do not wish to disclose disability or medical information may seek to work remotely through the Remote Work Policy and the employee’s request will be evaluated in the same manner as other remote work requests, and not as an accommodation request under the ADA.

For students: UW–Madison will offer primarily in-person classes in the 2021-22 academic year. Many of the University’s academic programs have essential in-person components. If you have a disability that impacts your ability to attend in person activities, you may work with the McBurney Disability Resource Center to explore possible accommodations. Requests for remote participation will require a letter from your health care provider and approval will be contingent upon determining feasibility for each course with the course instructor.

Posted on 11:31 AM, July 13, 2021

Will the Badger Badge be used this fall to control access to spaces?

No. Effective August 9, the Safer Badgers app will sunset and the Badger Badge will no longer be in use.

Last updated 1:47 PM, June 24, 2021

Will physical distancing be required in campus indoor spaces?

No. Effective August 9, instructional and other spaces will return to full capacity, without physical distancing. This decision was made based on current public health guidance, strong vaccination rates on campus and in the broader community, and the decreased prevalence of COVID-19 in Dane County.

Last updated 1:47 PM, June 24, 2021

Although I am fully vaccinated, I (or a household member) have a health condition that puts me (them) at greater risk of serious illness if I (they) contract COVID-19. I am not comfortable being around unmasked people unless I know they are fully vaccinated. What can I do?

Please be aware that a majority of employees and students have already received at least one shot and many more are fully vaccinated. You may continue to wear a mask if you wish. If you have specific concerns related to a medical condition that someone in your household has, please speak with your Human Resources contact if you are an employee or check in with the Dean of Students Office for support if you are a student.

Please note that employees are not entitled to accommodations for a family member’s underlying medical condition under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Last updated 11:28 AM, July 13, 2021

What app will be used for testing?

As we retire the the Safer Badgers app (including the Badger Badge), campus will transition to a new app in early August: MyUHS. Designed for students to interact with UHS regarding their healthcare, employees will also be able to use the app to schedule vaccination and COVID testing appointments as well as access test results. It also has a web version (the MyUHS portal) that students and employees already use.

Last updated 4:16 PM, July 19, 2021

I am fully vaccinated and will be living off campus. What should I do once I arrive in Madison after arriving from a location outside of the United States?

Testing/vaccination guide for international students living off campus during the fall 2021 semester

After you arrive in the United States, you should self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. It is recommended you get tested three to five days after travel. You may be tested at no cost at a UHS testing location.

Family members who are not UW employees/students can get tested at locations offered by Public Health Madison & Dane County or Urgent Care and other medical facilities. It is advised to go to their websites or call in advance for testing locations and other information. If you have children, check with your child’s pediatrician about testing recommendations.

Last updated 2:44 PM, July 16, 2021

I am not fully vaccinated and will be living off campus. What should I do once I arrive in Madison from a location outside the United States?

Testing/vaccination guide for international students living off campus during the fall 2021 semester

When you arrive in the U.S., it is recommended you self-quarantine for 7 days and be tested three to five days after travel.  UW–Madison employees and students are eligible to be tested at a UHS testing location.

Family members who are not UW employees/students can be tested at locations offered by Public Health Madison & Dane County or Urgent Care and other medical facilities. It is advised to check websites or call in advance for testing locations and other information. If you have children, check with your child’s pediatrician about testing recommendations.

After quarantining for 7 days, testing negative for COVID-19 and if you are not experiencing any symptoms, you are eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19.  Students, employees and family members can get vaccinated thru UHS at no cost. UHS has Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines available.  If you choose to be vaccinated at an off campus provider – please be sure and upload your vaccination information to UHS.

Last updated 2:44 PM, July 16, 2021

Can employees/students be required to wear masks?

Mask wearing can be encouraged but not required (except in clinical or health care, food preparation or child care settings, where masks may be required).

This is based on national and local public health guidance, which states that mask wearing in response to COVID-19 is no longer necessary for people who are fully vaccinated. UW–Madison expects that people who are not fully vaccinated will continue to wear face coverings indoors.

In addition, anyone, regardless of vaccination status, can continue to wear a mask indoors or outdoors.

Last updated 1:52 PM, June 24, 2021

Where can I find more details about my test results, including official documentation of my results for travel or other purposes?

To find more details about your test, including information to help you interpret results, log into your MyUHS account and find “UHS Health Record” on the left-hand side of the web page, or in the drop-down menu on mobile. Navigate to “Laboratory results” to find your COVID-19 test with more details, including test date and a full interpretation of the results. Or, on the MyUHS homepage,

after logging in, scroll down to “View lab results” to find a list of your COVID-19 test results and click on the result to get more information.

Last updated 1:53 PM, June 24, 2021

I was vaccinated outside the U.S. Does this mean I am fully vaccinated after 14 days?

An individual is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The 14 days is the standard used by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccines with an Emergency Use Authorization or Emergency Use Listing. This currently includes vaccines manufactured by Oxford–AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm-BBIBP, Moderna, Sinovac, and Johnson & Johnson.

Last updated 2:44 PM, July 16, 2021

If spaces are at full capacity, how will unvaccinated people be able to physically distance?

Physical distancing will not be possible in all campus spaces. This is one of the reasons we strongly encourage all employees and students to choose vaccination.

Last updated 1:52 PM, June 24, 2021

Why is UW–Madison making vaccination against COVID-19 optional rather than required?

It is the policy of UW System that campuses should encourage, but not require, vaccination for COVID-19. Those living in residence halls are required to test weekly unless they are fully vaccinated. A number of factors went into this decision. We continue to see encouraging progress in the fight against COVID-19 driven by strong participation in vaccination on campus and in the broader community. Cases in Dane County have also dropped to their lowest level since May 2020 and vaccination rates are high. We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated and will continue to offer no-cost vaccination for employees, students and the public. We will continue to offer pop-up vaccination clinics across campus to make it convenient to get vaccinated.

Once a person is vaccinated, they have the highest level of protection. Vaccinated people are unlikely to become infected with COVID-19, even if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive. Among those who do contract COVID-19 after vaccination, the vast majority have mild illness and are unlikely to pass the virus to others. With a surrounding community that is highly vaccinated and a local campus community that is highly vaccinated, we should expect few infections.

We recognize that some people have medical conditions that prevent them from receiving full protection from vaccination. Employees (including student employees) with a specific medical concern should contact their Divisional Disability Representative. All other students with specific concerns related to health conditions should contact their Access Consultant in the McBurney Disability Resource Center. If you were vaccinated at UW Health or elsewhere off campus, please let us know. Having the most accurate information possible about our community’s vaccination rate is important as we reunite on campus. The university will not disclose an individual’s vaccination status to others.

Last updated 9:02 AM, June 28, 2021

With more infectious variants such as Delta, do vaccinated people need to wear masks?

Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Evidence from real-world studies shows that fully vaccinated people in the United States still have strong protection against COVID-19 and current variants. However, vaccinated people may still choose to wear a mask. As of May 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say that fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks in most indoor or outdoor settings. Due to the rise of more infectious variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, such as the delta variant, the World Health Organization recommended in June 2021 that vaccinated individuals wear masks. However, CDC has not changed its guidance. WHO’s recommendations are applied in a global context, where many countries have vaccination rates lower than in the U.S. and/or may not have access to vaccines that are as effective. In many countries, the unvaccinated population outnumbers the vaccinated population and they are seeing a surge of the delta variant in unvaccinated people. The CDC and others continue to study the effectiveness of vaccines against emerging variants and UW–Madison will continue to monitor public health guidance. Vaccination rates are high on campus and in Dane County. Communities or populations with lower vaccination rates may choose to enact new mask measures to better protect unvaccinated people and limit spread of COVID-19.

Posted on 11:16 AM, July 1, 2021

I already had COVID-19 and I have proof I have antibodies. Do I still need to get vaccinated?

Antibodies can be a result of a recent infection or vaccine. Even people who recovered from COVID-19 should get vaccinated. Evidence suggests that antibodies from natural infection may not be as robust or long-lasting as those from vaccination and antibodies from a natural infection are not an adequate substitute for vaccination. A recent study in Wisconsin showed that 4 in 10 people who tested positive for COVID-19 last fall no longer had antibodies by spring. Studies also suggest the antibodies produced by vaccination may offer better protection against new variants than those from a natural infection.

Undergraduate students living in campus residence halls are required to test for COVID-19 if UHS does not have proof of vaccination on file. An antibody (or serology) test does not qualify as proof. Students should ensure they submit proof of vaccination to UHS or authorize UHS to access their immunization record.

Posted on 11:17 AM, July 1, 2021

I am an international student traveling to Madison from outside the United States – do I need to test for COVID-19 before leaving?

Per the CDC International Travel guidelines, all passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they board a flight bound for the United States. After your test, you should reduce interactions with others until you travel to reduce risk of transmission after your test but prior to travel.

If you have children under the age of 5, you should contact your pediatrician to see if they should also be tested for COVID-19.

Last updated 2:43 PM, July 16, 2021

Will in-person youth activities resume this fall and if so, will there be any public health requirements in response to COVID-19 applicable to these programs?

In-person youth activities and programs on the UW-Madison campus are currently expected to resume at the start of the fall 2021 academic semester (September 8, 2021). Note that some public health requirements may be applicable for activities in which youth who are 11 years and younger participate, given a vaccine is not yet available for this population. These may include, but are not limited to, social distancing and masking. We will continue to take guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. In addition, all current UW-Madison policies regarding pre-college programming remain in effect until September 8, 2021.

Last updated 4:11 PM, June 28, 2021

Contact

If you’re having trouble finding what you need, please email covidresponse@vc.wisc.edu.