Masks, testing, quarantine/isolation and other important COVID-19 matters

UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andy Leavitt | August 20, 2021

Dear University community, 

Today we answer questions you have posed since the University announced it would require masks indoors for all students, staff, faculty and guests effective Aug. 10. We will try to break down this information and explain new fall testing requirements so you can easily find the details that are of interest to you. You also will find updates on the Titans Return website

Mask Up! 

The mask requirement is, at this time, just that, a requirement for all students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear a face covering indoors on our campuses – unless working alone in a private office or lab. 

It may feel similar to last summer, when we announced a number of restrictions on activities and behavior and altered course structure due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases and the lack of a vaccine. That is not the case. Wearing masks – and continuing to get vaccinated − will allow us to safely and fully open our residence halls, our common areas, our food areas and our classrooms on Day 1.  

I know the mask requirement may have come as a surprise to many of you. None of us thought we would rescind masks June 1 (for the fully vaccinated) only to re-instate the order less than three months later. But at this moment it is the right thing to do. Even if you are vaccinated, you can carry COVID-19, particularly the highly infectious Delta variant, and unwittingly pass it on to others. 

You can read the mask order on the Titans Return website. The mask order is set to expire Oct. 1 unless an extension based on COVID-19 conditions is advisable. 

Vax Up Titans!  

The University is not mandating vaccinations. We are putting this ball firmly in your court and asking you to do the right thing: get the shots to protect yourself and others – even if you have had COVID. If we all get vaccinated, we may eliminate the need for these emails – and we know you are tired of us writing to you about COVID. We will be able to beat this virus and its variants. We will save lives. Get the vaccine, if not for yourself, but to save the life of someone you don’t even know.  

Breakthrough cases 

Young people ages 18 to 34 are contracting the virus at increasing numbers and getting sicker with this variant. While breakthrough cases – contracting COVID-19 after vaccination – have occurred, they are less common and symptoms generally are less severe. Vaccines are developed to prevent severe illness, not to prevent infection.  

Health officials warn we can expect more breakthrough cases if we continue to allow the virus to mutate. At some point it may take on a form not addressed by the vaccines. We can put a stop to this now through vaccination. Data is being gathered and analyzed constantly, but available information shows the vast majority of those who are hospitalized or who die are unvaccinated. 

Do the right thing: earn a shot at big money 

Fully vaccinated students who fill out the vaccine report form by Oct. 15 are automatically entered to receive one of 10 $1,000 scholarships from UWO. AND if 70 percent of our students are vaccinated by Oct. 15, students who have filled out the form are entered to receive one of eight $10,000 scholarships from UW System Vax Up! 70 for 70. 

Testing 

Effective Sept. 1, all faculty, staff and students on the Oshkosh campus – this includes students who live on and off our campuses – who are not vaccinated must be tested weekly for COVID-19. Faculty, staff and students on the Fox Cities and Fond du Lac campuses who are not vaccinated must test biweekly. Anyone experiencing symptoms, vaccinated or not, also must be tested. There are no exceptions.  

Details on testing and vaccination clinic days, times and locations will be communicated in a future email.  

Students who do not show up for testing will be subject to the conduct process through the Dean of Students office. Testing will be available on the Oshkosh campus and we are working to provide testing on the Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses. Testing is free. Students seeking an exception should contact the Dean of Students Office; employees should contact Human Resources.  

You can read the testing order on the Titans Return website. It is set to expire 30 days from Sept. 1 unless an extension is advisable. 

More info, report a case 

If you have concerns about the vaccine or questions about testing, we encourage you to send your questions to covidinfo@uwosh.edu so we can provide you with accurate information about the vaccine and COVID-19. Students, staff and faculty who test positive for COVID-19 must report it here.   

Are classes moving online? 

Our plans for fall classes have not changed at this time. We are not moving classes online or altering class delivery (classes already scheduled online will remain online); we are not reducing capacity in our classrooms or residence halls. We are not requiring masks outdoors. To sum it up, we are moving forward, but we’ve added vaccinations, masks indoors and testing to the equation. Research has shown and our healthcare partners agree that wearing masks and getting vaccinated are the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.   

Athletics 

Running successful athletics programs this fall means our athletes are vaccinated. We will be arranging special vaccination clinics for our athletes – many of whom are already back on campus – so they can practice and compete without the worry of contracting COVID-19, jeopardizing their health and others, or cutting their season short. 

What if I get COVID-19? 

Contracting COVID-19 means you will be required to isolate for two weeks – under the same conditions that were in place last year. Your friends and family who are deemed close contacts also will have to quarantine. We know this is disruptive to your work, education and social activities. No one wants this, but if you contract COVID, it will impact your life and the lives of everyone you came in contact with. 

For detailed information on campus isolation and quarantine, read the Chancellor Order here. The campus order for isolation and quarantine will go into effect Sept. 1 and expire 30 days thereafter unless an extension is advisable.   

We’re handing off the baton 

We want to move forward, as individuals and as a University. But there are limits to what we can do to convince you to get vaccinated and help stop this virus.  

The information above outlines what the University will do. Now we are handing you the baton. The responsibility lies with you. We will only move out of this pandemic if everyone does their part. 

For those of you who have gotten the shot, thank you. To those of you who have not, we ask you: Put an end to this. Get vaccinated. Let me repeat: GET VACCINATED.  

 

Chancellor Andy Leavitt 

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