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March 15 update to employees from Chancellor Blank

March 15, 2020

To our UW–Madison employees,

UW-Madison was informed Sunday afternoon that Dane County K-12 schools are closing, effective immediately, through at least April 3—not later this week as had been initially planned. We understand this shift will affect our many employees with K-12 students or children in local childcare centers, which may also be affected.

Furthermore, as the number of cases increases around the country and in Dane County, health experts expect substantial growth in the number of people infected. Both of these factors lead us to take the following actions.

By way of this email, schools, colleges and units are directed to implement the campus telecommuting policy in an effort to reduce the amount of face to face contact.

  • Those employees who can perform their job responsibilities through telecommuting are strongly encouraged to move to those arrangements as soon as possible in consultation with their supervisor.
  • Those employees who cannot perform their duties remotely or have not finalized telecommuting plans with their supervisor are asked to report to work as normal tomorrow, unless otherwise directed.
  • Managers are directed to exercise the greatest amount of flexibility possible with employees affected by the recently announced closures and work toward solutions that reduce face to face interaction.
  • Information to families who are enrolled at campus childcare centers will be provided in a separate communication.

Note that UW–Madison anticipates a reduction in operations at some point in the upcoming week based on continuing guidance from public health officials as well as potential staff shortages.

In anticipation of this, managers are asked to begin identifying and informing those employees who are required to maintain operations of the need to report to work even in the event of curtailed operations. More information on this and leave policies will be provided as decisions are finalized.

I understand the challenges that the spread of COVID-19 is having on your personal and professional lives. For those employees who will continue to report to campus, please know that we take seriously your health and well-being. We are actively assessing the safety of our spaces, and we will continue to provide updates about who needs to report to campus for work.

For updates, please continue visiting the campus website at

Thank you in advance for your flexibility and service to the university—we know that the situation is changing rapidly and we are in a time of great uncertainty. We’ll do our best to keep you informed.

Please take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

—Chancellor Rebecca Blank