UWM increasing testing to help provide a successful spring semester

UWM had a successful fall semester, with a relatively low rate of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff. We are grateful to everyone who wore a mask, kept their distance and got tested. You helped maintain a safe learning environment on all our campuses.

We will be doing more testing this spring as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. All students living in residence halls will be tested weekly. Students who come to campus at least once per week, whether it’s for a class or an on-campus job, will be tested every other week. These requirements apply to students at all three UWM campuses. See below for information on testing at your campus.

We know many of you also have questions about vaccination. Gov. Tony Evers announced last week that UW System and the Wisconsin National Guard will be partnering on mobile vaccination clinics. We expect UWM to play a role in that and will share more information when it’s available.

Please keep in mind that the state of Wisconsin sets vaccination priorities based on occupation, age and medical history. That means some students may be eligible for vaccination before others. And, it may be possible for people who have been vaccinated to carry the virus without getting sick and spread it to others. For these reasons, you must continue to wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines until vaccination is available to anyone who wants it.

Testing in Milwaukee

Students who have COVID-19 symptoms or primary exposure should call Norris Health Center at 414-229-4716, and the center will schedule a free PCR test for them.

Students without symptoms are being tested in the UWM Student Union Ballroom from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They must make an appointment and complete a screening form. Health officials recommended completing the screening form no more than 48 hours before each testing appointment.

Rapid-results antigen tests will be provided in the ballroom. Once students are tested, they should remain in the waiting area, and within about 15 minutes, they will be verbally told their results. Students who test positive will be sent to Norris Health Center for a confirmatory PCR test.

Both antigen and PCR tests are done with nasal swabs. Antigen tests, which are relatively fast and inexpensive, look for proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. PCR tests, which are more accurate but may take longer to process, look for genetic material from that virus.

Testing for the first two weeks of the Spring 2021 semester will be limited to students who are required to get tested. Testing for others who wish to get tested, but are not required to, will then be phased in. Students who meet the testing requirements must get tested within the first two weeks of the semester.

Testing in Waukesha and Washington County

Rapid-results testing for students is available at the UWM at Waukesha Field House and UWM at Washington County gymnasium on a rotating schedule. All students must make an appointment at www.doineedacovid19test.com. Students who develop COVID-19 symptoms should not wait for an appointment and instead get tested as soon as possible, whether that is on campus, at a community site or with their personal health care provider.

Once registered for a test on campus, students will go to the testing site, show their UWM ID, self-administer a rapid-results antigen test under the supervision of medical professionals and wait about 15 minutes to retrieve their results by logging into the same website on their smartphone.

Confirmatory PCR tests will be provided to anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms but tests negative, and anyone who doesn’t have symptoms but tests positive.