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Building access limits to take effect Feb. 8; updates on testing

January 27, 2021

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This message covers

  • New effective date for building access restrictions: Monday, Feb. 8
  • Updates on testing
  • Reminders
  • How to get help

Welcome to the 2021 spring semester. Each week, we’re updating the campus community on expanded COVID-19 testing requirements. With the start of instruction this week, these measures are now fully underway.

In the past week alone, more than 20,000 tests have been completed through the new program, setting a record for campus. We thank you for everything you are doing to respond so quickly to these new measures. Because of the robust response, we are making further changes to the process to ensure that you get the information and support you need.

The changes are: 

  • Enforcement of Badger Badge restrictions related to building access will be delayed from Monday, Feb. 1, to Monday, Feb. 8. You should continue to participate in testing during this time, but the extension provides you flexibility to access campus facilities provided you have not tested positive and are not isolating or quarantining.
  • We are working with the laboratory that is processing saliva tests to add additional staffing so that results come back to you faster. Our goal is for results to come back within 24 hours and we want to achieve that goal as quickly as possible.

Those of you coming to campus this week will find Badger Wellness Ambassadors at many building entrances. These trained employees have begun asking to see Badger Badges during this soft-launch period. However, enforcement of the building access restrictions based on your Badger Badge will not begin until Feb. 8.  Also new this week, the campus has switched to a drop-in system at its COVID-19 testing sites. We believe this will reduce wait times and we encourage you to visit the testing site with the shortest available wait as indicated in the Safer Badgers app.

These are significant changes, and we recognize they have come with challenges. We continue to ask for people’s patience as we listen to feedback and improve the process, and we appreciate everyone’s commitment to safety for the spring semester.

We are especially grateful to all of the employees, including the many student workers, who are working incredibly hard at our testing sites, on our customer service helplines, at our residence halls, and behind the scenes to help launch these new health and safety protocols. We thank them for their dedication and diligence, and we ask members of the campus community to please be patient and kind as they assist you.

Building access

  • Beginning Feb. 8, your Badger Badge on your Safer Badgers device will need to be in green “building access granted” status to enter any campus buildings with trained employees stationed at entrances.
  • Your badge will remain in green as long as you: have a negative test on file in the past eight days; have not had a positive test on file within the last 10 days; are not required to be in isolation or quarantine; and have not self-reported symptoms of COVID-19.
  • To avoid lines forming, we encourage you to have your Badger Badge screen ready to show at the door as you approach.
  • Trained employees are monitoring entrances at the buildings on the main campus with the highest traffic and the most in-person classes and activities. In addition, other UW–Madison buildings and units, including those located off campus and in the Madison area, may choose to limit access to their facilities based on compliance with testing requirements. In these cases, you should look for communication from your school, college or unit about monitoring provisions.
  • Contractors and vendors are not able to participate in our on-campus testing program. In monitored buildings, visitors with clearly identified uniforms who have business on campus—such as US Postal Service employees, FedEx employees, vendors and contractors, as well as law enforcement and emergency responders—will be able to enter without using the Badger Badge. They must follow all campus health protocols, including wearing a face covering and physically distancing. Invited visitors without uniforms who have business on campus must be escorted into the building by the person with whom they have business (or a designee). The person hosting the visitor is responsible for ensuring the visitor follows all campus health protocols.


  • In response to feedback from our campus community and our COVID-19 test site staff, we have converted our campus testing locations to drop-in testing only. This means you no longer need an appointment to get your test. (At this time, nasal swab testing sites are open only to residence hall students and individuals with medical accommodations.)
  • Rather than use the Safer Badgers app to make an appointment at a specific time, you will now use it on the day you wish to test to identify sites with little to no wait times. You will see color-coded estimated wait times on your app. This provides more flexibility in choosing the time and place that best suit your needs.
  • Beginning Thursday, Jan. 28, we will be temporarily closing the Health Science Learning Center (HSLC) site in order to modify the site’s configuration.  Those who would normally choose the HSLC site can access the nearby Nielsen Tennis Stadium site as well as any other site.  We apologize in advance for this inconvenience. The HSLC site is scheduled to reopen Feb. 15.
  • Watch this short video on how to provide a successful saliva sample or view this photo gallery of the step-by-step process at a testing site.


  • The university’s COVID-19 dashboard provides information to the campus community and the public about the results of COVID-19 tests among current UW–Madison faculty, staff and students. You can follow the dashboard for daily snapshots or weekly briefings. 
  • Keep your Safer Badgers app updated and remember that a stable Internet connection is important. You may wish to pull up your Badger Badge or other screens when you have a strong connection for use later.

How to get help

  • Watch a COVID-19 information session this Thursday from 5-6 p.m. Central Time. This session is intended for the entire campus community, including employees, students, parents and families. Join the forum on YouTube. 
  • Answers to dozens of commonly asked questions can be found on our FAQ website. You can filter the questions by audience and/or topic or use the search function.
  • If you have a question not addressed by the FAQs, you can email or call the UW–Madison COVID-19 Assistance Line at (608) 262-7777. The line is staffed Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Please continue to check the COVID-19 Response website for updates. Thank you and have a great start to the 2021 spring semester!

Tags: covid-19, health