UWO imposes restrictions, increases testing in response to COVID-19 results

Dear University community,

UW Oshkosh is implementing additional restrictions in residence halls and dining practices, and we are stepping up testing of all residence hall students to stem the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. These measures impact our Oshkosh campus only.

This follows last week’s decision to reduce the number of visitors in a dorm room to one and limit guests only to other UWO students.

Today we announce:

  • Beginning Thursday, Sept. 24, in-person seating in dining areas will be closed to all students, faculty and staff for two weeks. All food from these locations must be taken to go: Blackhawk Commons, Titan Underground, Reeve Marketplace, Reeve Coffeehouse, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Café Clow and Scotty’s. Elsewhere on campus you may only dine indoors in a common area if you are able to be 6 feet from others.
  • Beginning next week, we will test all residence hall students for coronavirus every other week. We will test half of the residence hall population one week and the other half the next week. Students will be contacted regarding their assigned week and will be expected to set up a testing appointment through the Prevea App.

You may have heard of other UW System campuses moving all instruction to online. We are not taking that step here at UWO.

Our data and contact tracing have led us to believe the spread of COVID-19 is not taking place in the classroom, where we see students, faculty and staff abiding by mask requirements, physical distancing and disinfection practices. To clarify, our plan is to continue in-person instruction after Thanksgiving. Information regarding UWO in today’s emergency order by Gov. Evers was incorrect on this point.

While we are maintaining the conditions we worked hard to create in classrooms, this relentless disease continues to spread where we fail to follow our most fundamental guidelines.

Students: Every time you have a group of people in your residence hall room, every time you host a house party and every time you patronize a crowded establishment you are putting yourself, others and UWO’s ability to continue offering in-person instruction at risk.

Our number of positive cases increased in the latter half of last week. Although the daily number of positive tests has declined a bit this week, our seven-day positive test rate is 17.9 percent.

Yes, identifying this degree of positive cases is a result of the University’s robust testing program, but we must reduce the spread on our campuses.

I know many of our students, most students actually, are taking necessary steps to protect their health and others. Titans are wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, refraining from gatherings in residence halls and staying away from house parties.

But a small segment of students are not. Some are even knowingly putting others at risk.

My message today is targeted at those of you who think you do not need to follow these safety measures. Let me assure you that you do – even if you’ve been diagnosed with and already recovered from coronavirus. Your actions are impacting not only yourself, they are threatening the health and safety of others and putting pressure on our campus to impose even further restrictions.

For those of you who are doing all you can, thank you.

For those of you who are not, whether you live on or off-campus, we have increased sanctions in our student conduct process. The Dean of Students office will levy sanctions against students who do not comply with our COVID-19 restrictions. This includes probation and suspension.

The word challenging has been used a lot since COVID-19 started its stampede last spring. We know it has curtailed your ability to be with friends and family. We know we are asking a lot of our faculty and staff, our communities, and, yes, our students.

Like most challenging periods in history, though, we know that this will pass. It is impacting your life at this moment and that impact is likely to continue for some time. But this is not forever. We will climb out of this; how quickly we are able to move forward, at this point, is largely dependent on your willingness to do everything you can right now to keep yourself and others safe.

Chancellor Andy Leavitt

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