UW–Madison to start fall semester with hybrid of in-person, online classes

MADISON, Wis. — University of Wisconsin–Madison officials announced Wednesday the university’s plan for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic during the fall semester will include a hybrid of in-person and online classes in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

As part of the university’s “Smart Restart” plan, students will be allowed to come back to campus for academic instruction on Sept. 2, according to a statement from the university. Classes will be held with a mix of in-person and online classes until Thanksgiving break. After the break, all classes will switch to virtual for the last nine days of instruction in addition to exams.

While in-person classes will be an option, university leaders said no student will be required to attend in-person. All classes will be available online for students who opt out of in-person options. Tuition costs will be the same regardless of the mode of instruction a student chooses.

“COVID-19 remains an acute global threat, one we will continue to take extremely seriously to protect our students, faculty and staff. The health and safety steps we are announcing today are rigorous, thorough and backed by science,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement. “We believe they will go far in minimizing the risk to our campus community while allowing our students to return to many of the traditions and experiences that make a Badger education so valued.”

UW–Madison’s overall safety plan includes making COVID-19 tests available to everyone, surveillance testing to track the virus’ presence on campus, campus contact tracing, physical distancing wherever possible and improved cleaning practices, according to the statement.

Students attending in-person classes will be required to wear face masks. Each class room will reportedly be supplied with cleaning supplies for students and faculty to use.

University Housing is reportedly working on a plan to allow students to live in the residence halls. Part of the plan reportedly involves regularly testing housing residents for COVID-19.

While most rooms will have two residents like normal, lounge and shared spaces will be closed to limit interactions in the residence halls. Dining halls will be open, but only University Housing residents will have access.

UW–Madison’s announcement comes three days after UW System President Ray Cross announced that UW System schools, which included UW–Madison, will be allowed to host in-person classes in the fall.

Cross said campuses throughout the UW System are “preparing an environment that reduces risk” for a safe return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

UW–Milwaukee announced Wednesday it will be using a combination of in-person and online classes in the fall semester.

A more detailed version of UW–Madison’s reopening plan is available here.