The COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread and affect people in Wisconsin, the United States and the rest of the world. Today, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency. This is a rapidly changing situation and we are working in consultation with our local, state and federal health partners to keep our community safe.
I want to emphasize that there are no confirmed cases of the virus on the Whitewater or Rock County campuses. That is why we are taking decisive action now to lessen the risk to our community as much as possible. Given the recent information that some of members of our community have traveled to high-risk locations – and out of an abundance of caution – we are taking the following actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
UW-Whitewater will begin Spring Break one week early on Saturday, March 14, and continue the break through Sunday, March 29. That means no classes (in person or online) will be held during this period, which will give our faculty and staff time to prepare for alternative delivery of classes after Spring Break.
Beginning Monday, March 30, face-to-face instruction will be suspended, and the campus will move to alternative delivery of classes through at least Friday, April 17. A decision on when and whether in-person instruction will resume will be shared in early April. Students will receive additional information about this transition during Spring Break.
As long as students successfully complete courses, this change in delivery will not impact the path to graduation. Faculty and instructional staff are advised to continue to show flexibility to students around academic assignments, exams or other requirements.
The residence halls are not closing and will remain open during Spring Break. We recognize that some students may be unable to return to their permanent residence for various reasons and will need to stay in their residence halls. Limited dining choices will be available. Check the Dining Services website for availability.
University Housing will provide additional guidance to students. Residence halls will remain available to these students where necessary, but we expect the majority of hall residents to return home, leaving the residence halls much emptier and making it easier for remaining students to maintain social distance.
Students who live on campus are asked to take essential belongings, academic materials, laptops and medications with them for Spring Break and not return to residence halls following Spring Break through at least April 17. We hope that students will return to their permanent residence and complete their coursework remotely.
Campus will remain open and all faculty and staff should continue their regular work schedules unless advised otherwise by their dean, director or supervisor. The university will continue daily operations, with some exceptions around travel and events, noted below. Faculty and instructional staff will receive information from the Provost’s Office about the transition to alternative delivery of instruction.
Student employees should consult with their supervisors regarding their hours.
All university-sponsored travel is cancelled through April 17, with limited exceptions from deans, vice chancellors and the athletic director.
We strongly advise you to reconsider non-essential personal travel, including travel over Spring Break. Documented cases are growing rapidly both domestically and internationally. You may face a higher risk of infection, significant delays returning, and/or the requirement to self-isolate or self-quarantine upon your return, all of which could significantly impact your professional and personal obligations at great individual expense.
All campus community members should be aware that if you travel, you may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days depending on where you’re traveling to and from, even if you do not exhibit symptoms.
All campus events are canceled beginning Saturday, March 14, through at least Friday, April 17, with limited exceptions from deans, vice chancellors and the athletic director.
Athletic events will be managed following current NCAA/WIAC guidance, which includes spectator-free events.
If you feel sick:
If you develop symptoms, stay at home. If symptoms like fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing are present, you are advised to contact your health care provider for advice.
Employees should not report to work if they are ill and should use sick leave or contact their supervisor or Human Resources.
Our responsibility to others:
While students may not feel like COVID-19 will affect them if they are young or healthy, please remember that you are members of a larger community and could carry it to those with compromised immune systems or to older or higher-risk people. There is no vaccine or protection at this time. We ask everyone to consider the safety and health of our entire community.
The best steps you can take to keep yourself and others healthy include:
– Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
– If water isn’t available, then use hand sanitizer.
– Hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
– Refrain from shaking hands.
– If you cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or a tissue.
– Get plenty of sleep.
– If you have a fever, please stay home.
– Social distancing: By maintaining a distance of six feet from others when possible, people may limit the spread of the virus.
Your questions and concerns:
We know that there are additional questions and concerns that arise as the COVID-19 situation continues to quickly change. Please refer to our COVID-19 website for updates. You can submit questions by calling our COVID-19 hotline at 262-472-1362 or email [email protected] The phoneline and email will be monitored during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
It is important that we act thoughtfully and responsibly during this time. Our actions will help keep everyone safe with minimal disruption to our university mission as students continue their studies.
Our Warhawk family is strong, caring and resilient. I appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we navigate this situation. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 worldwide outbreak, and we will act and adapt our plans as appropriate.
Dr. Dwight C. Watson