UW-Madison asks undergraduate students to limit in-person interactions for 14 days

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison is asking undergraduate students to limit their in-person interactions and restrict their movement for the next two weeks.

According to a letter sent out by Chancellor Rebecca Blank on Monday afternoon, the directive’s goal is to limit the recent rise in coronavirus cases. UW-Madison reported 148 more students tested positive on Sunday, bringing the total to 872 students testing positive since testing started on Aug. 6.

The directive goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21.

“I want to thank the many students who we know are following the public health guidelines and upholding the Badger Pledge by taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: monitoring for symptoms, using face coverings and physical distancing, and limiting gatherings,” Blank writes in the letter.

The letter said students should only leave their residence for “essential activities,” including receiving a COVID-19 test or medical care; participating in academic activities including classes, studying or research; purchasing food; going to a job; running or walking; or attending a religious observance.

According to the letter, all in-person social events are to be canceled for the next two weeks, and student meetings should be held online only.

“I recognize that the actions I am requesting of our undergraduate students are significant,” Blank writes. “This adds another layer of uncertainty to the stress they, and all of us have been feeling.  But we must reduce infections among our students to ensure that they stay healthy, and to protect the health of faculty and staff as well as those in our Madison community.”

In a statement, UW System President Tommy Thompson said Blank is taking the right steps to slow the spread of the virus on campus.

“Like other universities throughout the nation, UW-Madison is taking aggressive actions to adapt to the circumstances informed by its testing strategies,” Thompson said. “We knew there would most likely be an increase in early cases and today’s decision, while inconvenient to students, is necessary. UW System will continue to work with all its campuses to address specific circumstances as they arise.”