Chancellor’s Update: Study Abroad Programs, Travel and Campus Operations

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

As we near our extended Spring Break (March 15-29), I want to thank you for your understanding, resilience and patience as we continue to safeguard the health and well-being of our campus communities.

Today, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency for the state of Wisconsin. This announcement is another reason why UWM is responding swiftly and decisively as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve in our state and further abroad.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the virus on any of our campuses. We received the good news today that the UWM Foundation employee who was tested earlier in the week for COVID-19 received confirmation that they are not infected with the virus.

Since my last message, we have additional information about travel restrictions, steps for students to take as they depart campus, and campus operations.

Study Abroad and Travel
All study abroad programs currently underway are being suspended and all 63 students who are currently overseas are being recalled. Students returning from countries designated as severely impacted will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. This currently includes China, Iran, South Korea, Japan and 26 European countries identified by the CDC as Warning Level 3.

Due to the changed alert level for 26 European countries being elevated to a Level 3 Warning, faculty-led summer study abroad programs in the summer of 2020 will be canceled to the following countries: France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. We are evaluating the remaining faculty-led study abroad summer programs to other countries.

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, both domestic and international, is being canceled through April 10, with limited exceptions from the Office of the Provost.

We continue to strongly discourage employees and students from any non-essential travel outside of Wisconsin until the end of the semester. This does not apply to out-of-state students who are returning home for the extended Spring Break. If you do opt to travel, please know that there are health risks involved. If you travel outside of Wisconsin to a U.S. state where the CDC has determined that sustained community transmission is occurring, the Wisconsin DHS recommends that you self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Other travelers should self-monitor for 14 days for fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Preparing for a Period of Alternate Instruction
As announced yesterday, UWM is proceeding with plans for a minimum of two weeks (March 30 – April 10) of alternate delivery of instruction (including online). All in-person classes are suspended during this time.

Students who are returning home or to an off-campus residence during the extended Spring Break and the additional two weeks while classes are being delivered alternatively are being asked to take essential items such as laptops, medications, and items related to coursework. While the residence halls are not closing, we are discouraging trips back and forth to retrieve items.

Campus Operations
All three UWM campuses – Milwaukee, UWM at Waukesha and UWM at Washington County – will remain open. At the Milwaukee campus, the Golda Meir Library, Klotsche Center, UWM Children’s Center and the Student Union will remain open at this time.

UWM Commencement
At this time, UWM plans to hold its two commencement ceremonies on May 17. We will keep you informed if this changes.

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 employees should continue working as they normally would unless advised differently by their supervisor, director or dean. Please see the HR FAQs for further information.

Care and Respect
This is a challenging time and many individuals are feeling nervous or frightened. We are a campus community that cares for one another. Any forms of discrimination or racism will not be tolerated and the reporting of such actions will be handled with great concern.

The one thing all of us can do is follow recommendations on the best ways to avoid contracting the virus.

Precautionary Measures
The best ways to avoid contracting COVID-19:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cough/sneeze into your elbow
  • Practice social distancing

If You Develop Symptoms:

  • Stay home; do not go to work, class or public areas
  • Separate yourself from people and animals in your home
  • Avoid sharing personal household items
  • Wash your hands often
  • Clean “high-touch” surfaces every day
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-shares, taxis, etc.

We are carefully monitoring the COVID-19 crisis as the situation continues to change rapidly. Additional campus updates will be shared via email, the COVID-19 website, our FAQs and social media. We are striving to keep everyone safe and disruptions to studies as minimal as possible.

Best Regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee