UWM employee COVID-19 update

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

We understand the challenges and sacrifices you are facing during these extraordinary and unprecedented times. The spread of COVID-19 has compelled us to make difficult choices that put the safety of our faculty, staff, students and their families first. This was not the semester anyone expected. 

Each day, and nearly by the hour, we are addressing new issues and making difficult decisions. Today, I am sharing much of the same information that we are sending to students so that you can see a more complete picture of developments on campus and can help empathize with students.  

In-Person Commencement and Honors Ceremonies Canceled
Given the circumstances facing our university, our communities, the nation and the world, we have decided we cannot hold our in-person graduation ceremonies on May 17 nor Honors Commencement on May 11. These decisions are consistent with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order barring mass gatherings.

We know how profoundly disappointing this is for those graduating, as well as families, supporters and friends. These decisions are not made lightly, but with the best interests of our campus communities and our students’ families and loved ones in mind, especially since many people would make travel plans to attend. We appreciate your understanding of this difficult decision. 

For your background, below is some additional information we are sharing with students.  

Refunds of Housing Fees and Updates on Tuition and Other Fees
In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and its impacts to UWM students and families, UWM will refund the prorated charges for housing and dining for the remainder of the spring semester for students who vacate their on-campus student housing (and do not receive a COVID Accommodation to remain on-campus).

Prorated reimbursements will exclude the period of the originally scheduled spring break and shall be issued by the close of the spring academic semester, though efforts are being made to expedite the refund process. Crediting these funds toward future semesters in lieu of a refund is not an option because of rules related to the awarding of federal financial aid. There is a team working on other fee issues, and we will share updates as they become available. 

We also have extended the Spring 2020 payment deadline. UWM will not assess late payment fees or interest charges from March 20 to June 2. We are committed to working with our students and families to the best of our ability through these challenging times. Students who cannot make payments on time are encouraged to contact the Bursar’s office at bursar@uwm.edu 

University Housing to Close
We are closing University Housing with the exception of those individuals who do not have other options.  All residents will receive a separate email from University Housing with details later today explaining how and when they can retrieve their belongings. 

We know what a disruption has been placed on your lives during this crisis. Your continued patience and understanding are most appreciated. 

Additional important updates on campus operations and services are found below. 

Best regards, 

Mark A. Mone, PhD
Chancellor 

Libraries

Libraries at all three UWM campuses were closed yesterday, and interlibrary loan service has been placed on hold because of the pandemic. Faculty who need interlibrary loans can request digital delivery of portions of books, rather than complete, physical editions of books.  

Online databases, articles and e-books continues uninterrupted, and reference support is available online. Note that many publishers are also providing expanded, free, online access to their content during the pandemic. 

Go to the UWM Libraries’ Coronavirus Update page for the latest information. 

Access to campus buildings

Only individuals with keys or access cards can enter academic buildings, which are locked until further notice. Faculty and staff who don’t have a key or access card, but who still need to get into research labs, music studios or other spaces on a regular basis for work should contact their supervisor to arrange access.  

Employees should contact UWM Police at 414-229-4627 for other special requests to unlock a building. Those individuals will need to have appropriate employment permissions and a UWM ID to enter the building.  

Campus practices regarding COVID-19 infections

The City of Milwaukee Health Department notified the University of one case of COVID-19 in a UWM employee early this week. Local health departments are following state and federal public health guidelines related to contact investigations. With the majority of students and employees not on campus individuals should follow the information related to COVID-19 of their local community and local health department.

Student and employee health matters are confidential, and while UWM may have a count of employees taking COVID-19 leave, they may be doing so for reasons other than illness, such as child care. 

UWM food pantry

The UWM Food Center and Pantry on Thursday handed out about 200 bags of food totaling more than 2,000 pounds, emptying once-stocked pantry shelves and underscoring the impact that the pandemic has already had on UWM students. The overwhelming demand meant the cancellation of a distribution scheduled for Monday. The food pantry hopes to receive a delivery from their food bank partner, Feeding America, in time for the next scheduled distribution of food on Thursday, March 26.  

If you are able to help, please visit the food pantry’s website for more information. The options include donating to an Amazon wish list. 

Online or alternative delivery of classes

Online and alternative delivery of instruction begins on Monday, March 30 following the extended spring break period. If you haven’t accessed them already, here are some helpful resources to prepare for the transition: 

Community news

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Latest coronavirus updates

WUWM:  Coronavirus: How Wisconsin Hospitals Are Handling The Outbreak

Spectrum News: TipMKE launched to provide “tips” for out of work service industry employees

Urban Milwaukee: Florentine Presents Its ‘Carmen’ Digitally

News links

UWM Report: UWM works to help instructors move courses online 

UWM Report: UW-Milwaukee, UT-Arlington partner on free online course to support faculty during pandemic

Milwaukee Record: UWM historian building digital archive of what life is like in Milwaukee during pandemic