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COVID-19 Update: Campus policies for summer

May 11, 2021

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The following message applies to students, faculty and staff planning to access the UW–Madison campus after May 10. Revisions to this information may be made in response to evolving public health conditions. An update can be expected prior to August 1, when campus density is expected to increase. 

This message covers

  • Summer building access
  • Ongoing health protocols
  • Testing and vaccination
  • Events policy
  • Travel policy

We’ve successfully completed the 2020-21 academic year, and we again send our heartfelt thanks for your attention to and support of COVID-19 health protocols on campus!

During the spring semester, we completed more than 700,000 tests, more than 32,000 members of our community are fully vaccinated and, most importantly, we experienced an extremely low level of positive COVID-19 cases on campus. Your efforts allowed us to have a successful spring semester and in-person Commencement events this past weekend.

As we transition into summer on campus, we are modifying some of our COVID-19 protocols and UW–Madison is reopening to visitors. Below, we’re again sharing the most important changes:

Building/Facility Access

  • As of May 10, campus is again open to visitors and a green /building access granted Badger Badge will no longer be needed to access most campus buildings. Badger Wellness Ambassadors are no longer checking badges at the entrances to campus facilities.
  • Some spaces on campus, as well as specific events or activities, may require a green Badger Badge/building access granted status to enter or participate. Those designated spaces should be marked and badges may be checked by staff and event organizers. Visitors and guests, who are unable to use the Safer Badgers app, will not have access to these spaces.
  • To require a Badger Badge as a condition of access or participation, staff must first complete a training and registration form. Complete details on this process were shared on April 19.
  • Certain campus spaces, such as UW Libraries and the Chazen Museum of Art, will continue to require an appointment or reservation for in-person visits. In addition, UW Libraries requires a Wiscard for entry.

Campus Health Protocols

  • Masks continue be required while indoors, when riding a campus bus, or when two or more people are present in a university vehicle. Masks are no longer required in outdoor settings; however, they continue to be encouraged when physical distancing is not possible.
  • As campus tours resume operations later this month, participants will be required to wear masks, even when outdoors.
  • Physical distancing requirements have not been modified and remain at least 6 feet.
  • Individuals should continue to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and refrain from coming to campus if they feel ill.


  • Free COVID-19 testing will continue to be offered to students and employees on campus. This includes students who were enrolled in 2021 spring semester but are not enrolled during the summer semester, including new graduates.
  • Testing will be conducted using a PCR-based nasal swab test. No PCR-based saliva tests will be conducted this summer.
  • Hours and locations are available in the Safer Badgers app or on the COVID-19 Testing website. Results are expected to take about 24 hours.
  • Students and employees who are not fully vaccinated but need a green Badger Badge to access a particular facility or event should test every eight days. Fully vaccinated individuals are exempt from testing and their badge will remain green unless they report symptoms in the app or test positive.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals are expected to get tested if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

COVID Vaccination

  • The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
  • UHS continues to offer Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, based on availability, to all members of the campus community and the general public.
  • Appointments are recommended, but not required, at the vaccine clinic at UHS. For hours and more information, visit
  • If you require a specific vaccine type, such as Pfizer, UHS recommends you make an appointment, since you can’t be guaranteed specific vaccines at drop-in.
  • Two weeks after receiving your one-dose vaccine, or the second dose shot of a two-dose vaccine on campus, your Badger Badge will automatically turn green.
  • Students and employees vaccinated off campus should upload vaccine records to MyUHS:

Events and campus activities 

The campus events policy has been updated to reflect the new gathering/event size guidelines issued in the Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) Emergency Order, currently PHMDC Order #16.

  • The new campus events policy will allow up to 350 people to gather indoors with food and drink and up to 500 people without food and drink, both requiring physical distancing of 6 feet.
  • All food and beverage provided at events must be either commercially pre-packaged/individually packaged or served by university catering staff. If food is provided by a restaurant or catering company not affiliated with the university, it must be provided in single serve packaging.
  • Face coverings will be required for all indoor gatherings, except when eating or drinking. Face coverings will not be required for outdoor gatherings, if physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Guests and visitors will be allowed to attend UW–Madison sponsored events, on- or off- campus, unless the event sponsor determines attendance is limited to those with a green/building access granted Badger Badge status.
  • Third-party events (events not sponsored by the university) are not allowed.

Current policies for Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) and schools/colleges/divisions are posted. 

Travel Policy

Currently all university-sponsored travel by air and/or which include an overnight stay remains cancelled. In limited cases, academic deans or vice chancellors may approve an exemption. Employees seeking an exception to the travel order will need to download and complete the Essential Travel Exemption Form.

Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) may travel inside Dane County without prior approval assuming they are following current health protocols such as limiting to 50% of vehicle capacity. RSOs traveling outside Dane County or staying overnight regardless of location are required to obtain approval from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (or designee). Requests will be facilitated by the Center for Leadership & Involvement and should be submitted at least 14 calendar days in advance via this form. See the March 24, 2021 announcement for more details.

This is the final planned weekly update. Specific information for Fall Semester 2021 is still being finalized and will be shared as it becomes available.

Additional details and an FAQ on these policies will be updated as needed at

For more information email