COVID-19 updates; looking ahead to spring semester

UWOPD Chief Kurt Leibold | January 12, 2021

 

Dear University community,

I hope you are enjoying winter interim. We have a number of important updates to share with you today related to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, spring courses and travel.

UW Oshkosh has learned a great deal over the fall semester about meeting the challenges of COVID-19, and we will use what we have learned to continue to keep our campuses a safe place to learn, research, connect and grow. Daily we evaluate information to help us offer a campus experience while maintaining health and safety.

Testing 

In line with the announcement from UW System, UWO will begin spring semester with weekly testing of residence hall students on the Oshkosh campus. All faculty and staff who will be on campus for any reason will be asked to get tested biweekly. This testing will take place at Albee and students, staff and faculty should sign up through the MyPrevea app. Our testing strategy may change if the spread of the virus is under control and the vaccine becomes available to the general population.

COVID-19 testing at Albee will be available to students, faculty and staff:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday through January.
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning Monday, Feb. 1.

Beginning in February on-campus testing will be available every other week at the Fox Cities and Fond du Lac campuses according to the following schedule:

  • Week 1 (Feb. 1, Feb. 15, etc.): 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday – Fox Cities campus
  • Week 2 (Feb. 8, Feb. 22, etc.): 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday – Fond du Lac campus

Students, faculty and staff from these campuses will be able to sign up for testing on the MyPrevea app. (This is the same app used to sign up for testing at Albee, but there will be drop downs to register for testing at the Fox Cities or Fond du Lac campus.)

COVID-19 testing at the Culver site will be available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for community residents through Jan. 22. The Culver site will be closed Monday, Jan. 18, in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Persons who want to receive a rapid-results test should register at www.doineedacovid19test.com or call 1-800-635-8611.

You may have seen news reports about the CDC study of our antigen testing at the Albee site. The antigen tests have allowed us to test a large portion of our University population on a weekly basis, quickly identify cases of COVID-19 and contain the spread of the virus.

We know this test is not 100 percent accurate and that is why we also run the PCR tests when needed. But the antigen tests allow us to obtain results as quickly as 15 minutes to help stop infected individuals from spreading this disease. The low rate of infection on our Oshkosh campus is a strong indication that this testing − along with safety measures we have put in place and measures you have taken to protect yourself − is working.

Reporting, assessments, hotline 

If you tested positive for COVID-19 over break, please email covidinfo@uwosh.edu and indicate that you tested positive and the date of the positive test. A representative will contact you to discuss your exemption from testing.

Continue to take the health assessment before coming to campus each day. And if you have been gone for a few weeks over break, please minimize your activities outside your home for 10 days before traveling back to campus. We encourage you to sign up for the new COVID-19 exposure notification app. You will find information on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services site.

If you have questions about testing or COVID-19, contact the COVID hotline 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at (920) 424-2019. You will find a wealth of information on COVID-19, testing, the self-assessment and other classroom information on the Titans Return website.

Spring instruction 

Spring classes will be offered both in-person and online, with an expansion of in-person offerings in a number of classes. We have re-evaluated a number of classrooms and plan to safely open them to in-person instruction. More than half of all courses will be offered in-person.

Travel 

COVID-19 travel restrictions will remain in place for all UW Oshkosh faculty and staff until further notice. At this time non-essential University travel is not permitted. This does not apply to NCAA-regulated travel.

Students received a separate email from the Office of International Education that group study abroad/away programming scheduled for spring interim (May to June) has been canceled.

Our Emergency Operations Committee will continue to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on both domestic and international travel and recommend an ease of restrictions when there is sufficient decline in positive cases and broad distribution of the vaccine.

We encourage you to visit the CDC website for the latest in domestic and international travel guidance and alerts.

Vaccine, safety 

We don’t have details of the vaccine rollout, but our campuses are ready and willing to assist with this process.

As the vaccine becomes available, we will continue to evaluate how we can safely offer activities and events and increase in-person experiences on our campuses.

The safety measures we have been taking over the past several months will continue: wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance and don’t gather with those outside your immediate circle.

Masks 

A cloth, two-layer face mask continues to be the safest, most effective mask. New students will receive two UWO face masks in a Titans Return bag. Current students in need of a mask should stop by the Student Involvement Desk in Reeve Union, Algoma entrance, for a UWO-branded mask. Masks also are available for purchase at the bookstore in Reeve.

Gaiters and bandanas do not provide the same level of protection as a face mask and are not recommended for use on our campuses. Likewise, there is not enough evidence to indicate that face shields are an effective source of control of COVID-19. Face shields are not recommended as a substitute for masks by the CDC, the WHO and Johns Hopkins. If you need an accommodation in this area, employees should work with their supervisors. Students should contact the Accessibility Center in the Dean of Students office.

In closing 

Winter interim is half over and spring semester will be here before we know it. Keep doing what you’re doing. Now is not the time to put your safety and the safety of others on the back burner. Together we will move through the remainder of this academic year and face the challenges ahead of us.

UWO Police Chief Kurt Leibold