COVID-19 Updates on Classes and Campus Operations

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

First, I want to reinforce that the health and well-being of our campus communities are paramount. Since my message to you yesterday, we have additional information regarding our campus’ response to the COVID-19 virus, along with important news on how classes will be taught after spring break.

Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Today’s WHO announcement underscores why UWM is moving quickly and decisively to prepare our students, faculty and staff for this unfolding worldwide crisis.

I want to emphasize that there currently is NOT a confirmed case of the virus on any of our campuses.

The reason classes and other scheduled events and activities will continue this week through Saturday, as originally scheduled, is because there is no immediate threat due to COVID-19 to the health of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. All three of our campuses remain open: Milwaukee, UWM at Waukesha and UWM at Washington County.

While the situation on our campuses is stable now, public health officials believe there is a possibility of COVID-19 spreading in coming weeks. For those reasons, we extended spring break, which will now run from March 15-29 (this means all classes – including online – will not be taught during this time). The longer break provides UWM faculty and instructors with additional time to prepare for alternative course delivery, including online classes.

Plan for Classes After Spring Break

To reduce risks to our students, faculty and staff, we are suspending in-person instruction beginning on Monday, March 30 (after the extended spring break), when we will initiate alternate forms of delivering our classes (including online). This will continue until at least Friday, April 10. It is our hope that we will return to our normal instruction and operations the following week, beginning Monday, April 13. However, due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, we will be re-evaluating the timeline and will keep you informed on when in-person instruction will resume, with one week’s notice. More specific information on your courses will be forthcoming from your instructors.

Residence Halls

Because in-person classes are suspended after this Saturday, students who live in University Housing are encouraged to return home or to an off-campus residence during the extended spring break and the additional two weeks while classes are being delivered alternatively (March 15-April 10). The residence halls are not closing. We will accommodate and care for students who do not have alternative housing and need to remain on campus. Please notify University Housing staff if you plan to stay in a residence hall. A follow-up communication will be sent by University Housing to all affected residents, including information about housing fees.

Students Living Off Campus

Students who live off-campus can continue with their studies from their off-campus residences.

Student Employees

Student employees should work with their supervisors on their planned work schedules over the extended break period and beyond. Student employees are not prohibited or discouraged from working at their UWM jobs under our current COVID-19 guidelines. However, UWM will respect students’ decisions not to work during the extended break and beyond. Additional information will be shared if the situation changes.

UWM Employees

All three UWM campuses are open and all employees should continue working as they normally would unless advised differently by their supervisor, director or dean. Additional information for our permanent employees is available at https://uwm.edu/hr/coronavirus-faq/.

Travel

All upcoming University-sponsored travel for students is being canceled through the end of the semester. This includes university-sponsored spring break trips, but does not include NCAA athletics, which will be subject to guidelines established by the Horizon League and the NCAA.

All upcoming university-sponsored travel for employees is being canceled through the end of the semester for areas severely impacted by COVID-19. This currently includes China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea and Spain. This list may change as additional areas are impacted by COVID-19. Anyone returning from these severely impacted areas must self-quarantine for 14 days, whether or not symptoms are present, before returning to UWM campuses.

We also strongly discourage employees and students from any non-essential travel outside of Wisconsin until the end of the semester. If you do opt to travel, please know that there are health risks involved. If you travel outside of Wisconsin, we ask you to self-monitor for 14 days for fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Students who are already overseas with study abroad programs in countries that do not have Level 3 warnings should consult with UWM study abroad administrators on whether to stay or return.

Campus Events and Gatherings

University-sponsored events and gatherings of more than 50 people should be canceled from March 15 through April 10. Exceptions may be granted by Provost Johannes Britz and Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen.

What To Do If You Develop Symptoms

Please stay at home if you are sick. The CDC guidelines are here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-prevent-spread.html. Contact your health care provider if you develop COVID-19-like symptoms, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

UWM faculty and staff should not come to work if they are sick. Please use sick leave or discuss alternative arrangements with your supervisor or human resources.

Your Questions and Concerns

We know that there are additional questions and concerns that arise as the COVID-19 situation continues to quickly change. Please see our FAQ page that answers the most commonly asked questions. You can also refer to our COVID-19 website for updates. You can submit questions that are not already included in the FAQs or on the website to: https://uwm.edu/coronavirus/ask-a-question/.

Our Panther family is strong, resilient and innovative. We will continue to monitor the global COVID-19 outbreak, assess its impact on UWM and adapt our actions and plans. Our goal is to keep everyone safe with minimal disruption as students continue their studies.

Mark A. Mone, PhD
Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee