Continue to protect yourselves and your community

Dear University community,

Thank you for your caution, care and courage as we continue this semester’s journey.

Classes are well underway. Our campuses are active, and safely so. Students and faculty and staff members are making outstanding efforts to remain masked, to practice physical distancing and to keep hands and spaces sanitized. That mantra may sound tiresome, but it’s essential to keep us going.

We all have seen the COVID-19 testing numbers for students rising. We anticipated that, and we take it seriously. As we move forward, we follow our plan but also adapt as we go. The flexibilities we built into our Titans Return framework prescribe this balance and degree of improvisation.

One of the biggest reasons you have seen rising positive numbers is because of our vigorous testing efforts, particularly on the Oshkosh Campus, which is home to our highest concentration of student-residents. Our daily testing volume given UWO’s size is unparalleled in the UW System. We are investigating hotspots and analyzing emerging infection patterns. This involves targeting some testing to identify people we suspect may have been exposed to the virus. It’s working. So far, a combination of real-time intelligence, responsive strategies and reliable results are helping us quickly find and care for UWO community members who need our help.

This brings us to another Friday and an important inflection point given our testing and COVID-19 positive rates. We are asking students to think even more critically about decisions they make this weekend that could affect our ability to continue face-to-face teaching and learning in the days to come.

We recognize the hardships you are all enduring. We are listening. When we learn of problems or shortcomings in our efforts, we push ourselves to correct them as fast as possible.

We see students in quarantine and isolation counting the days until they can return to residence halls, classrooms and something closer to this new normal. We are determined to consistently do better in supporting students as we nurture them back to health and clear them for campus life and learning. Students: thank you for your patience, understanding and strength.

We see faculty and staff members who are doing their very best to manage classrooms as students contracting the virus or worried about exposure wisely disclose and selflessly ask to shift to online learning. Faculty and staff members: thank you for everything you are giving to UWO. Let chairs, deans and administrators know what you need as we proactively reach out. Share obstacles you are facing and adjustments you are making. We will offer guidance and solutions.

We have never faced a test like this. It can feel overwhelming, so our state of mind is paramount. Practice calm, exude patience, ask for help and offer care. It is the recipe for resilience.

I have confidence in this community. Please continue to protect yourselves and each other.

Chancellor Andy Leavitt

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