UWM employee COVID-19 update

Dear Faculty and Staff,

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly, your health and safety, as well as that of our students, are paramount. To help control the spread of the virus, we will be strictly limiting all onsite, non-essential operations and moving most operations to virtual or remote methods no later than noon tomorrow. This includes closing all operations and services that are open to walk-in traffic and having all employees who are able to work remotely do so.

There may be limited circumstances in which some employees need to continue working on campus and can do so in secure, private areas, such as research labs. Deans and division heads will grant permission to these employees to continue their work on a case-by-case basis. Those decisions are subject to change in light of the rapidly evolving situation.

Please note that campus is not closed, but we are closing and limiting access for many areas to limit exposure to COVID-19. Indeed, some employees will need to provide critical services, such as caring for students living in our residence halls, providing core IT and networking services to campus, continuing payroll operations and providing security for those accessing campus. But, all who can work remotely must do so, and we ask all supervisors to make those determinations as quickly as possible.

We also realize there are some employees who are not required to work onsite and who cannot work remotely. Those employees may be eligible for special COVID-19 leave, which was announced today by UW System. This provides up to 80 hours of paid leave for employees who can’t perform their assigned duties during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency due to the following:

  • inability to work remotely
  • self-quarantine
  • self-isolation
  • illness
  • care of an immediate family member
  • child/elder care due to school and day care closures

Delivery of instruction to students, which is work that can be performed remotely, does not qualify for COVID-19 leave without extraordinary circumstances and the availability of course coverage.

Faculty, academic staff, university staff, limited appointees, employees-in-training, graduate assistants and temporary employees are eligible for COVID-19 leave, with the approval of campus administration. The leave may be used prior to using any other type of accrued leave and will be available until the president of UW System determines the pandemic emergency has concluded.

I also want to let you know that the City of Milwaukee Health Department has confirmed one case of COVID-19 in a UWM employee. Like all large institutions in Milwaukee, we expect to have more cases confirmed in the coming days. We want to respect the privacy of these employees and will not be identifying them. This is not a time to panic, but a time to stay committed to our core values of treating everyone with respect and maintaining an environment free from discrimination. It’s also a time to support and care for each other. In the balance of this employee update, you will find more details on testing, access to campus facilities, updates to our travel guidelines and other information to help you through this time.

Mark A. Mone
Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Where do I get tested?

If you recently traveled to an area with community spread or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and has symptoms, the Milwaukee Health Department urges you to call your primary care provider. Do not seek care without calling ahead because doctor’s offices and hospitals are overwhelmed. More information on testing can be found here.

Monitoring your health

Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure: fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, call your health care provider for medical advice before going to a health care facility.

How to Protect Yourself
The CDC and White House are urging measures to protect yourself including:
Clean your hands often
Avoid close contact
Stay home if you’re sick
Cover coughs and sneezes
If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people
Avoid social gatherings in groups of 10 people or more
Avoid unnecessary travel

Important resources
Besides the CDC, updated information on the coronavirus crisis and response can be found at the following websites:
Milwaukee Health Department
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Campus access changes

The UWM campus is not closed. However, by tomorrow at noon, we will be closing and limiting access to many areas to limit exposure to COVID-19. Those areas include the Klotsche Center, a facility for which we’ve received many inquiries.

Access to academic buildings
Starting around noon on Wednesday, buildings will be locked and accessible only to individuals with keys or other access to unlock the building. If there are special needs for unlocking a building after that time, individuals should contact UWM Police at 414-229-4627. UWM Police will continue to patrol the campus and provide dispatch services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Parking
The following changes will go into effect by noon Wednesday:

The Union, Lubar, NWQ and Pavilion garages will be closed because staffing is needed to keep them open.

All outdoor lots will be open, in addition to the Sandburg and EMS garages. Open parking areas will be free for any UWM employees who need to come to campus.
Individuals may not park vehicles in UWM parking facilities overnight without express permission.

Change in travel policy

Effective today, UWM is prohibiting any employee from booking university-sponsored and paid travel until better information is known about when travel may resume.

As a reminder, UWM announced on Monday that all employees who have traveled to states with sustained community transmission must stay out of the workplace for 14 days. States with verified sustained community transmission now include Illinois, California, New York and Washington. This means UWM employees who live in Illinois must make arrangements with their supervisor, such as working remotely, to follow this guideline.

Who needs to self-quarantine?
Anyone who has traveled internationally to countries with widespread transmission, according to the CDC, and/or traveled in the United States to states with sustained community transmission. The CDC is updating this list regularly. Visit this page, and after the U.S. map, click the States + bar to reveal the state list. Look under the Community Transmission column for states marked yes.

Should I travel for a personal trip?
Should you decide to travel, be aware of the risks to your health. If you are returning from countries with widespread transmission according to the CDC and/or U.S. states with sustained community transmission, you are prohibited from returning to the workplace and must self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you do not exhibit symptoms.

Correction: Deadline for voting absentee by mail in the April 7 election

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, voters are strongly urged to act now to vote absentee for the April 7 spring election and presidential preference primary. Wednesday, March 18, is the deadline to register to vote by mail or online for the presidential preference primary and spring election. After this date, voters must register in person in the municipal clerk’s office or at the polling place.

The deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you is the Thursday before the election, April 2. However, the Wisconsin Elections Commission urges voters not to wait due to possible delays in mail delivery.
You can request a ballot be mailed to you. For more information, visit the Wisconsin Elections Commission website.

Community news

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Latest coronavirus updates
TMJ4: Froedtert South opens drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Kenosha County
Fox 6: 11 Milwaukee County leaders issue order closing bars, restaurants except for carryout, delivery

News links

Insider: UWM professor talks about challenges of online teaching
Newsweek: UWM epidemiologist says Europe travel ban will have limited effect