Monitoring COVID-19 on campus and in our community

Dear University community,

UW Oshkosh has long had in place a system of alerts that notify us of the level of danger we face as a community from natural disasters, violence or other threats to our campuses.

COVID-19 poses its own set of challenges and our work this summer included developing a new system of alert levels to guide decisions as we determine when and if we need to take additional measures to protect safety and reduce our operations.

The bulk of this email will be spent on the alert levels, but first a few reminders as we near our return to campus. Our safe return and maintaining open campuses depends on all of us working together.

Alert Levels 

Four alert levels mark the degree of risk on our campuses: low, moderate, high and very high. When we open in less than two weeks, we will be operating at a moderate level. The parameters that make up the levels follow:


  • Full operations with some protective measures in place.
  • In-person instruction at full capacity with some protective measures in place.
  • Events at full capacity with some modifications.
  • Resident halls open and at full capacity.
  • Dining at full capacity with some protective measures.
  • Schools and businesses can operate at high density.
  • Vaccines and treatment approved and widely available.
  • Lower circulation of the virus, prevention practices gradually lifted.


  • UWO is open and protective measures are in place.
  • Instruction is a mix of in-person and remote instruction with online options for in-person classes.
  • Some students and employees will not be able to return to campus. Physical distancing, face covering and hand washing are important. Rigorous cleaning and PPE protocols are in place.
  • Events are limited to 50 people or less.
  • In-person housing is available.
  • Dining is offered with restricted capacity and alternative options.
  • Schools and businesses can operate at moderate density.
  • Virus prevalence is lower and testing/contact tracing capacity allows relaxing of some policies.
  • Treatments may be available that lower risk of severe outcomes.


  • Instruction and events are primarily remote.
  • In-person offerings are limited to operations that are difficult to conduct remotely.
  • In-person groups require special permission.
  • Prevention policies are in place for those who must meet in-person, including: limits on group size, PPE, health screening, distancing, face coverings, hand washing and disinfection plans.
  • In-person housing is available.
  • Dining is offered with preventative measures and dining options.
  • Schools and businesses can operate at low-density.
  • Significant prevention is in place and may include limits on meeting sizes, enforced use of PPE, elevated precautions for high-risk people.


Very High

  • Campus and building access are restricted.
  • Telework is preferred; essential employees may work on campus.
  • Instruction is remote; no in-person programs.
  • On campus housing is only available to those who need special accommodations.
  • Dining service is not available. [Update, September 2020: Dining is offered with preventative measures and dining options for students on a meal plan.]
  • Stay at home orders are in place.
  • Schools and non-essential businesses are closed.

Moving through the levels 

The Emergency Operations Committee will analyze county and campus data daily and consult with local health officials to determine the alert level on our campuses. Recommendations to move to a new level made by the EOC will proceed to the Chancellor’s cabinet for a final decision.

Information the EOC will consider includes:

  1. UWO must be able to continue operations while managing COVID-19 cases on our campuses. This includes looking at the number of active cases and the seven-day average daily increase.
  2. UWO must be able to minimize COVID-19 exposure between our campuses and the local communities.
  3. We will monitor campus compliance with PPE use and distancing measures.
  4. Testing capacity must meet need.
  5. Access to local healthcare facilities is available.
  6. The University has adequate facilities for quarantine and isolation of resident UWO students.
  7. PPE supplies are available to meet need.
  8. The existence of local, state and federal mandates.

Data guidelines 

UWO will evaluate county-level data that includes both the number of new cases per day and the positive test rate. The number of new cases per day is determined by a seven-day average of cases per 100,000 residents.

The positive test rate is the percentage of total tests that were positive in the county within the past seven days. Taking both criteria into consideration will give us a comprehensive picture of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the communities where our campuses reside.

We have carefully and in consultation with public health developed a comprehensive system to guide our decisions. Many people will be involved in collecting and evaluating the data and then making recommendations when necessary. We also will continue to communicate this information to our campuses, so if you are required to make adjustments in your courses or your work, you will have time to do so.

We understand the stress COVID-19 is creating in your lives. Most difficult is not knowing from day to day what tomorrow will bring and how tomorrow will impact the decisions and best practices we are putting in place today. We will continue to support you and the goals you have set for a successful fall semester.

We are only a short time away from welcoming you back to our campuses. There is still much work to be done, but most important is the work we all must do to practice safe behaviors and protect our health. Please continue to visit the Titans Return website for the latest information.

Until next week, stay healthy and Titan strong.

UWO Police Chief Kurt Leibold 

Implementation Team Chair