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Campus COVID update: Get ready for Thanksgiving recess

November 17, 2021

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This message covers:

  • Thanksgiving recess travel guidance
  • Testing hours reminder
  • Mask policy extension to Jan. 15
  • Spring semester health policies

Dear students and employees,

As we head into the colder months in Wisconsin, our campus community is better protected from COVID-19 than it was a year ago. Currently 95 percent of UW–Madison students and employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19 – thank you for taking this important step! Many of you are also becoming eligible for COVID-19 booster shots available at University Health Services (UHS). While these are uplifting indicators of effective public health interventions, it is important that we continue to take precautions to keep COVID-19 case numbers low and our community healthy. Doing this also helps reduce the spread of the flu and other upper respiratory viruses that are common in the winter.

Travel guidance for Thanksgiving recess

If you plan to travel for the Thanksgiving recess, prepare now:

  • Get your COVID-19 vaccine if you have not yet already. The COVID-19 vaccine not only protects you, but those around you who may be more vulnerable to getting seriously sick, like young children and older adults.
  • Practice safer ways to celebrate with family and friends.
  • If you are sick or develop symptoms of COVID-19, avoid gathering with others. If you are able, separate yourself from other household members.
  • Regardless of your vaccination status, get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have a close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask when traveling to keep yourself and other travelers safe. If you are traveling internationally, follow international travel recommendations and know the COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements of your destination.

Testing hours reminder

As a reminder, UW–Madison testing sites will close at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and remain closed Thursday and Friday. They will reopen again at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 29.

If you are unvaccinated and are required to test weekly, please plan accordingly. If you will be away from campus and unable to test the week of Thanksgiving, you may request an exemption:

This exemption will temporarily excuse you from any sanctions associated with non-compliance with the testing policy during this time. When you return to Madison, you must complete a COVID-19 test within 24 hours. Requests are only valid for future dates. Submissions for tests missed in the past will not be approved.

Mask policy extension to Jan. 15

UW–Madison’s requirement that masks be worn in indoor spaces is being extended to Jan. 15, 2022. (Read the Chancellor Order.) This policy will be reviewed again in mid-January taking into consideration current public health guidance and COVID-19 prevalence on campus and in the community.

The extension to mid-January will help reduce health concerns during a time when many members of the campus community are traveling and when COVID-19 cases are rising again in other parts of our state and region. This also provides time for employees and students with children ages 5 to 11 to have their children vaccinated.

Spring semester health policies

COVID-19 is substantially more preventable and treatable than ever before and we are taking this into consideration as we plan spring semester policies and procedures related to COVID-19. The vaccination requirement for employees, which we announced last week in response to President Biden’s executive order for federal contractors, is one part of this effort, as is continued availability of COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots. We are also taking into account changing public health guidance at the local, state and national level. We will share additional information with you before the end of the semester.

Regarding the employee vaccination requirement, please be aware that a recent federal court decision halting the vaccine requirement for large private employers does NOT apply to UW–Madison. The executive order’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors like UW–Madison is still in effect, so we must move forward with the requirement.

Thank you for doing your part to keep our campus and community safe.