Will Fall 2020 classes be online or in person?

July 20, 2020

UWM will be open this fall with both in-person and online classes. The university will follow its original academic calendar, with classes beginning Sept. 2.

Many classes will be offered with a hybrid approach that involves a mix of face-to-face and online instruction. For example, in a Tuesday/Thursday class, half of students would attend in person on Tuesday and have online instruction on Thursday, while the other half would have the opposite schedule. This approach reduces the number of students present at one time to 50 or fewer and allows for more efficient implementation of social distancing in classrooms. In most cases, face-to-face sessions will involve fewer than 25 students.

Other notable information about classes:

  • Face masks will be required.
  • Students with health concerns may request accommodations to complete their coursework online.
  • Some classes, such as labs and studios, are being structured to meet entirely or almost entirely in person while maintaining social distancing standards.
  • Efforts are being made to maximize face-to-face instruction for freshmen so they can get to know their professors.
  • Instructors will be prepared to move the classes online should public health conditions require it.

And, as usual, UWM will offer hundreds of courses entirely online, including all classes with more than 100 students.

As of July 20, UWM made the necessary adjustments to the schedule of classes to determine which courses would be entirely or partially online. Students should review their schedules carefully on PAWS. Please note that the courses themselves have not changed. Updates have only been made to the way in which students will experience them.

Buildings and classrooms

Preparations for the fall have already begun with modifications to university buildings that include the installation of signage and floor markings that indicate where to line up and enter and exit in order to maintain social distance. High-traffic areas, such as the Bursar’s and Registrar’s offices, will have plexiglass installed at service counters.


Classrooms will be professionally cleaned at least once per day and stocked with hand sanitizer and disinfectants that students and instructors can use.

University housing and dining

Single and double rooms will be available in UWM residence halls, which are suite-style, with two or three bedrooms connected to a bathroom. UWM does not have group showers or large communal restrooms like some other universities.

Dining services in the residence halls and the UWM Student Union are being adapted so meals can be ordered and paid for using a cellphone or other mobile device. Service will be contactless.

Use of masks

Employees and students will be required to wear masks unless they are in a private office or their own residence hall room. Masks also must be worn outside when six feet of distance can’t be maintained.

COVID testing

COVID-19 testing will be available for students with COVID-19 symptoms at UWM’s Norris Health Center, but widespread on-campus testing of people without symptoms is not planned at this time. Students and employees are expected to monitor their health, watch for possible symptoms and stay home if they are sick.

UWM continues to work with local, state and national public health authorities monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and will adjust its plans in accordance with public health guidance.

These plans for fall classes and campus operations are the result of months of work by 14 teams that included more than 140 faculty, staff members and students. Careful consideration was given to what is best for students academically while addressing the health needs of students, faculty, staff and the community.