Chancellor’s Update: Fall 2020 Reopening Decisions

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Dear UWM Faculty, Staff and Students,

I am pleased to announce that after months of planning, UW-Milwaukee will reopen for fall of 2020. Today I share the highlights of our decisions to date, which were guided by our goal to provide a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty and staff.

There are many factors involved in resuming operations, and we do not know everything at this point. More details will develop as we prepare for the fall semester, and we will continue to share updates, including at a town hall meeting for faculty and staff on Thursday, June 25, from 9-10 a.m. We will send an invitation for the employee meeting shortly, and we will offer town hall meetings for students as we get closer to the start of the academic year.

How We Got Here

Our decisions align with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities. We will continue to work closely with state and local public health officials on prevention, planning and response to COVID-19, and will modify our guidelines and decisions as needed to protect the health and safety of our students and employees. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate this new and evolving environment.

Our announcements today are possible due to the significant efforts of 140 faculty, staff and students within 14 planning teams that have addressed issues related to instruction, building preparations, student services, housing, human resources, IT, research, travel, purchasing, supplies and more. Our teams have put in countless hours to study and offer solutions to many complicated and challenging issues. I extend my thanks to all the team members for their dedication and commitment to this critical work and our future.


There are too many planning details to capture entirely here, and thus, I encourage you to examine the specific information in the resources cited below. As an overview, our main decisions include:

Personal Health and Safety

  • Face coverings and six feet of social distancing will be required, with exceptions such as in private offices or residence hall rooms.
  • Buildings are being modified to direct traffic flow and include plexiglass in high-traffic areas.
  • Prioritized cleaning will occur for high-touch areas (e.g., door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, bathrooms, etc.).
  • Classrooms will be cleaned once or twice each day.
  • Staggered entry and exit protocols will be used in classrooms.
  • Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies will be provided in classrooms for instructors and students to clean at their discretion the individual space they occupy.
  • Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies will be provided for office spaces.
  • Environmental Services cleaning staff and other Facility Services staff will be scheduled appropriately to prioritize the outlined safety standards.
  • Students and employees are expected to monitor their health, watch for symptoms and stay home if they are sick.

Classroom and Remote Learning

UWM will allow face to face instruction within the constraints of social distancing and other public health guidelines, balanced with a wide array of online options, as follows:

  • Classes with capacities of up to 100 will use a hybrid model of both face to face and online instruction with no more than half the class meeting in person at a given time.
  • The maximum number of students who simultaneously attend an in-person class will be 50.
  • As usual, UWM will offer hundreds of courses entirely online, including all classes with more than 100 students.
  • The academic calendar will remain the same.
  • Some lab, studio, and other experiential courses will be conducted entirely or almost entirely face to face with social distancing unless there is a need to convert to online instruction.
  • Students who request online course content will be accommodated to the extent possible.


Buildings remain closed through July 31. However, about 1,000 people are currently approved to be on our campuses at different times to perform essential functions. To allow even more people to return, we will use a phased approach to resume operations in this order:

  • Research operations will move to Stage 2 of the Office of Research’s process;
  • Academic and student services as needed for essential summer activities to support current and prospective students;
  • Employees who will prepare our facilities and operations for the return of students, faculty and staff in the fall; and
  • Employees from all other functions, in an order to be determined by campus leadership in consultation with our Emergency Operations Center and University Safety and Assurances.

We do not expect all employees to work on site during the fall semester.


  • Student housing assignments will be made largely as they have in the past, with single and double rooms. Room assignments will be made in phases as we address student demand and work to assign students with their preferred roommates.
  • Some housing units will be reserved for isolation space for exposed or infected residential students who do not have alternative housing options.
  • Testing for students will be available on-site, focused primarily on students with COVID-19 symptoms.


Details on all these topics are available in two reports:

In addition, we have launched a  Fall 2020 Reopening website with updates, FAQs organized by topic and a feature to submit questions. This site contains a wealth of resources, and I encourage you to use it to access the latest information.

We look forward to safely welcoming students, faculty and staff to our campuses this fall. While classes and operations will look different, we will remain a caring and supportive environment for our students and employees. We will continue to prioritize health and safety and continuity of academics, research and engagement. I thank everyone in advance for your efforts to make us successful this fall, which will include monitoring our own individual health and following guidelines aimed at keeping our fellow Panthers safe and healthy.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee