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 the full list of campus policies regarding testing and masking. The chancellor’s June 24 message includes a rundown of changes expected for fall 2021.

We’ll be updating this page as more information becomes available.

Virtual Events

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.

How Do I Video Series

How do I navigate situations with people who have different risk tolerance from me?

How do I begin to feel safe in public again?

How do I make the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

FAQS

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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 4:25 PM, November 10, 2021

How is contact tracing operating this fall? Will I know if I have been near someone who tested positive?

UW–Madison University Health Services (UHS) manages contact tracing for those individuals who test positive for COVID-19 at on-campus testing locations.

There are several ways you may learn you are a close contact, depending on where and when your contact took place. If you are a close contact on campus, you are likely to hear from a contact tracer via a phone call or an email from UHS noting that you have an important message waiting in your MyUHS account. To check your secure messages, log on to your account via the MyUHS app or web portal and navigate to “Messages” to see if you have a message related to this contact.

You may not always hear from a contact tracer so you should err on the side of caution. If someone tells you you’re a close contact, you should believe them and take the following action:

  • If you are unvaccinated, quarantine yourself immediately for at least 10 days and continue your required campus testing as scheduled; if you develop symptoms, you should get tested right away.
  • If you are vaccinated, monitor yourself for symptoms and get tested 3-5 days after you had contact with the person who tested positive. You should also get tested at any point if you develop symptoms and isolate until you receive your results.
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 90 days, you do not need to test or quarantine following a close contact. However, if you develop symptoms, you should isolate yourself and get tested.

Read more here: https://covidresponse.wisc.edu/faq/ive-been-exposed-to-someone-with-covid-19-do-i-need-to-quarantine-and-for-how-long/

 

Last updated 3:31 PM, September 15, 2021

Can an instructor require face masks in the classroom?

Yes, masks are required in indoor instructional settings. Students who can wear a face covering but refuse to do so should be asked to leave the building. Any absence from class due to refusal to wear a mask should be treated by the instructor as an unexcused absence, with consequences as indicated on individual class syllabi. Students who repeatedly fail to comply may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards using this form and may be subject to disciplinary action under the non-academic misconduct policy.

Last updated 4:07 PM, September 14, 2021

What will happen to students and employees who refuse to wear face coverings or otherwise follow public health measures?

Masks are a remarkably simple and effective tool to help control the spread of COVID-19. We expect everyone on campus – students, faculty, staff and visitors – to follow the reasonable and research-based measures we have in place to protect our community. Those who can wear a face covering but refuse to do so will be asked to leave the building.

Students
Any absence from class due to refusal to wear a mask will be treated by the instructor as an unexcused absence, with consequences as indicated on individual class syllabi. Students who repeatedly fail to comply will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (use this form) and may be subject to disciplinary action under the non-academic misconduct policy. 

Students who have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to wear a face covering should request a reasonable accommodation.

Employees
An absence from work due to refusal to wear a mask will be considered an unexcused absence with the typical consequences. Employees who repeatedly refuse to wear a mask may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.  

Employees who have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to wear a face covering may request an accommodation; contact your Divisional Disability Representative 

View more detailed guidance for supervisors. 

Last updated 9:26 AM, September 9, 2021

What is the current requirement for mask wearing on campus?

All students, employees and visitors to campus are required to wear masks when inside campus buildings, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

  • Residence halls: Residents and visitors are expected to wear a face-covering at all times while outside of a resident’s room. Face coverings must be worn while in hallways and common areas such as dens and kitchens, restrooms, and in the lobby. Face coverings are not required when it is not conducive to performing a task (i.e. brushing your teeth, showering, eating, drinking, etc.)
  • Work spaces: Masks may be removed if you are working alone inside an office or lab
  • Meals: Masks may be removed while actively eating and drinking but should be promptly put back on when finished
  • Outdoor spaces: Masks are not required, but may be worn if you wish, on the Terrace and other outdoor spaces adjacent to buildings
  • Vehicles: Masks should continue to be worn on Madison Metro buses and should be worn in campus vehicles when two or more people are present
  • Medical accommodations: Students who have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to wear a face covering should request a reasonable accommodation. Employees who have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to wear a face covering may request an accommodation; contact your Divisional Disability Representative.

Please note that, as required by federal law, Madison Metro Transit continues to require all bus passengers to wear face coverings at bus transfer points, shelters and throughout boarding, riding and leaving the bus.

Per CDC guidance, multi-layer cloth or disposable masks that have a nose wire and fit properly over your nose and mouth to prevent leaks provide the best protection against the spread of COVID-19.

We will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission rates on campus and in the community and will revisit our mask policies as the public health situation warrants. This does not impact our policies or plans regarding return to work on campus, events and physical spacing.

Last updated 2:02 PM, November 18, 2021

How should I respond if I see someone not wearing a mask where one is required?

Remind.
Remind them about the face covering requirement. Using language such as, “I notice you aren’t wearing a mask” is a good place to start. Remember that not everyone is able to wear a face covering, and it is not your responsibility to evaluate their accommodation needs. Students with documented accommodations work with the McBurney Center and are expected to share their accommodation with you at the start of the semester. As appropriate, remind the class that not everyone is able to wear a face covering.

Offer.
Offer them a face covering if you have extras and if they need one. Speak with your supervisor if you have questions about where to find extra supplies.

Respond.
Respond using your best judgment. If you are dealing with a visitor to your space who refuses to put on a face covering, you may ask them to leave. If they continue to refuse to comply, do what you can to de-escalate the situation, including walking away. You are not expected to jeopardize your personal health and safety to enforce the campus health protocols.

Students who repeatedly fail to comply may be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards using this form and may be subject to disciplinary action under the non-academic misconduct policy.

Please note that only supervisors, managers, and HR representatives can direct employees to leave the workplace.

Download a PDF of this guidance.

Last updated 5:28 PM, September 2, 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.

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.

Last updated 10:49 PM, August 11, 2021

Can an employee wear a clear face shield instead of a mask?

No. Current campus guidance states that “all students, employees and visitors to campus are required to wear either a reusable, well-fitting cloth mask or a single-use disposable mask when inside campus buildings.” Students, employees and visitors may choose to wear a face shield in addition to but not as a replacement for a reusable or cloth mask. Instructors concerned about speaking in the classroom while wearing a mask can find information about classroom microphones on the Fall 2021 Instruction Page.

Employees who have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to wear a face covering may request an accommodation; contact your Divisional Disability Representative.

Posted on 8:50 PM, August 31, 2021

Will cleaning and disinfecting supplies and hand sanitizer still be available?

Procurement and distribution of cleaning/disinfecting consumables and PPE has returned to our normal (pre-pandemic) process with two exceptions:

  • Physical Plant has placed 500 one-gallon bottles of hand sanitizer in building entrances and high-traffic areas across campus. These bottles are checked nightly and refilled as needed.
  • Physical Plant will place two one-gallon containers of disinfectant wipes in the main entrance of classroom buildings before the start of the fall semester. These containers will be checked and restocked nightly.

Please note that Physical Plant will no longer stock wipes, spray disinfectant, and paper towels in classrooms.

Any cleaning/disinfecting supplies or PPE needed for regular, ongoing day-to-day operations (such as masks, mask fitters, gloves, face shields, and gowns) will continue to be available at no cost to campus units through ShopUW+ until current inventories are exhausted. Once that occurs, these items should be procured by the base unit/lab/school/college from other ShopUW+ vendors using normal practices.

Building managers and department contacts have been asked to identify a space in each building where disinfecting supplies and PPE will be kept and made available to building occupants. These locations will vary from building to building; contact your building manager for more information.

Last updated 3:47 PM, September 14, 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 is based on current public health guidance, strong vaccination rates on campus and in the broader community, and implementing indoor masking requirements.

Last updated 2:07 PM, November 18, 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?

As of Sept. 1, 92 percent of employees and 88 percent of students are vaccinated. This high level of vaccination, combined with the requirement for masks to be worn indoors, means that we have a robust level of protection on campus and fewer members of our population will experience severe infections caused by COVID-19, compared to areas with lower vaccination rates.

In addition to wearing a mask indoors, as currently required, you may also continue to wear a mask outdoors 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 representative 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 under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for a family member’s underlying medical condition.

Last updated 8:07 AM, September 2, 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?

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 3:14 PM, November 10, 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 (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for vaccines with an Emergency Use Authorization or Emergency Use Listing. See the WHO’s COVID-19 Vaccine updates for more information on Emergency Use Listings.

Beginning November 8, 2021, F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant student visa holders are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated in accordance with CDC guidance before flying to the United States. Learn more.

Last updated 12:06 PM, November 11, 2021

Will in-person youth activities resume this fall and if so, what are the public health requirements for these programs?

Single day in-person youth activities and programs on the UW-Madison campus have resumed. Multi-day programs occurring on consecutive days and overnight programs are prohibited through the fall 2021 semester. All programs must follow campus public health guidelines, keeping in mind that vaccines are currently not available for youth under the age of 12.

Face Masks
In alignment with current campus policy, all youth participating in on-campus programs as well as staff serving them must wear a mask indoors, while on the UW-Madison campus or in any of its facilities, regardless of vaccination status. All youth under age 12 and staff, regardless of vaccination status, must also wear a mask outdoors in alignment with CDC guidance.

Vaccination
Staff of programs offered on campus who do not have a vaccination record on file with UHS are required to be tested weekly for Covid-19 according to campus requirements. Vaccinations are the greatest defense against the spread of Covid-19 and we encourage all guests who are 12 and over visiting our campuses to get vaccinated.

All activities involving youth must be registered with the UW-Madison Office of Youth Protection and Compliance (OYPC) to ensure compliance and oversight with Covid-19 mitigation protocols. There are additional screening, testing, and reporting requirements for symptoms and confirmed cases. Reach out to OYPC for more information.

Last updated 12:57 PM, October 7, 2021

Contact

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