University, county disagree on next steps for semester

MADISON, Wis. — There’s still a chance students at University of Wisconsin-Madison will get sent home this semester, but not for at least another week and a half.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said that’s too long to wait.

“Frankly, I think the UW experiment has not worked,” Parisi said. “I’m still very concerned about the number of cases.”

An experiment that’s led to online courses for two weeks and quarantining some students living in residence halls. Parisi said that’s a step in the right direction, but now it’s time for the University to take a leap.

“I think they should let parents come and pick up their young people once they test negative, and realize that we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Parisi said.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank stood by her school’s decision to keep students on campus. On Tuesday, her office referred News 3 Now back to Monday’s news conference when Blank said in-person classes are still the best way to learn.

“We’re on a two week hiatus. I hope that we might bring these numbers down, that we might see some changes,” Blank said. “We’ll be evaluating whether we open or not.”

Even if the university chooses to finish the semester online, Blank said a large number of students wouldn’t just disappear.

“We’re going to have 35,000 students in town whether we’re in-person or online,” Blank said. “It makes a lot more sense to have some in-person direction.”

Parisi continues to point to science, which he said shows having that many students on campus isn’t going to end well for our community.

“We’ve had our best success in the past when we’ve been able to get out ahead of this, but I think COVID fired a warning shot the last couple of weeks, and I think we need to listen to it and take further steps,” Parisi said.

The university will determine if students need to go home after the two week virtual shift, which runs through Sept. 24.