Testing And Quarantine/Isolation: Key Questions And Answers

Testing And Quarantine/Isolation: Key Questions And Answers

UWM continues to provides answers to questions posed by families and students as regularly as possible. A variety of topics surrounding testing and quarantine or isolation have emerged as ones consistently of interest as the University navigates through the fall 2020 semester.

While most people posing questions receive direct answers whenever possible, the answers and other information shared is important to all of our families and community. Below is a summary of answers to some commonly asked questions and topics discussed among members of the Panther Family Association.

Background Information

The safety of students and staff is a top priority. To that end, UWM has done copious planning for reopening campus for the fall 2020 semester, and as a result were the first higher education institution to have received approval from Milwaukee Health Department to reopen.

Our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) includes more than 100 staff members on 14 teams that include

The Incident Commanders for this team are the UWM chief of police and the campus health officer, both of whom work extensively with other EOCs and groups from the City, County, State and UW System.  Those teams involved expert members from the health, medical and academic fields. The final reopen plan was vetted by the City of Milwaukee Health Department. UWM follows current CDC, local and city health guidelines.

During the planning process, there was an understanding that when students returned to campus, the planned operations would need to be updated or changed, and new accommodations made for unknown factors as they appeared. That is the stage the University is in now.

The Fall 2020 Reopening webpage and FAQs provide information on a range of subjects, but specific areas of note are detailed below.


UWM is currently testing all students in the residence halls every two weeks. Depending on the type of COVID test that is needed, the test can usually be done the same day or within 24 hours, with the exception of weekends. Results can take an additional 24 hours for antigen tests, or an additional 48-72 hours for PCR tests. Contact tracing is done by the Milwaukee Health Department with assistance from UWM staff.

Students at UWM’s Waukesha and Washington County campuses who have COVID-19 symptoms can get take-home PCR tests from the campuses’ Solutions Centers. Waukesha students should call 262-521-5040, and Washington County students should call 262-335-5201.

Positive or Exposed Students

Students who are relocated to isolation or quarantine housing are placed in a designated isolation/quarantine suite or apartment, not a separate building. Students are provided the option of isolating/quarantining on-campus or at an off-campus location. University Housing provides students with a set of expectations to follow while in isolation/quarantine. Staff do not monitor or supervise these adults in their on-campus homes, but encourage them to make good decisions to support their own health, as well as the health of the greater community. There is a level of personal responsibility required of young adult students to ensure they are following the established expectations. If they are found to not comply with the expectations, this would be documented, and students are held accountable by the Dean of Students Office.

To reduce spread of COVID-19, it is recommended that students living in UWM residence halls use UWM’s designated isolation and quarantine housing rather than return to their home communities. However, students may return to their permanent homes to isolate there if they can do so safely in light of their family circumstances.

All UWM students are informed regularly that if they are symptomatic, or have been exposed to someone who is, they are to contact the Norris Health Center immediately.

Students in quarantine or isolation are provided the following information:

  • Duration of their time in isolation/quarantine
  • Expectations about their behavior for being in isolation/quarantine
  • List of items they should take with them (“Go Bag”)
  • Coordination of transportation to their isolation/quarantine location
  • Information on what is provided in the rooms (linens, care box of cleaning supplies, paper towels, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, toilet paper, soap, gloves, and disposable masks)
  • Information on meal/overnight box ordering process
  • Reassurance that the Dean of Students will be following up with students in isolation/quarantine

Health Resources

A welfare check is performed by nursing for students in isolation; the frequency of the check is dependent on the request from the student. General questions can be answered by phone or email to the Norris Health Center. The Center’s website has information about options for after-hours care. There are several local urgent cares and emergency rooms close to campus. Calling 9-1-1 is not recommended except in the event of life-threatening emergency.

Food Service

Food is delivered by Restaurant Operations staff to students in isolation in residence halls. These staff are provided PPE, as are all UWM staff. Contactless deliveries include a knock on the door and students instructed to wait one minute to allow time for the delivery staff to leave the area. The deliverers wear gloves, masks, and face-shields. The food containers are disposable and require no return or pick up.

Some services and operations have had to be adjusted to meet campus or City of Milwaukee Health Department guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, as well as the reduced demand for food due to a lower on-campus population.

Cambridge Restor includes brunch selections for their weekend service. Freshly-prepared menu selections for lunch and dinner, including salads, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, as well as prepared ready-to-eat lunches and heat-and-eat nutritional entrees can be found in the Restor locations at both Cambridge and Sandburg Halls. Palm Garden Café in Sandburg Hall is also available for all residents of Cambridge Hall.

For convenience of all students living in UWM residence halls, the GET food mobile app for ordering food was launched. Students can order and buy meals using their cellphones or other mobile devices and pick them up with contactless service. Students with a PantherCard ID can get the app through this link. The mobile app allows students to plan ahead for meals. Again, for students in isolation, their order will be delivered. As with any new system, or changes in operations like those we have made in compliance with health officials, there will be bugs that need to be worked out. The patience of our students is appreciated.

Detailed information about residence hall dining can be found at: What dining options are available for students living in residence halls?

Additional FAQs of interest:

Story posted Sept. 21, 2020