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Reesor: Planning for Thanksgiving and beyond

October 12, 2020

The following message was sent to UW–Madison undergraduate students by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor. Separate guidance will be shared with graduate students.

Thanksgiving break has traditionally been a time to spend with family and friends and to prepare for finals and the end of fall semester. This year will be different due to COVID-19.

Beginning on Monday, November 30 (following the Thanksgiving recess) in-person group instruction, including final exams, will be fully remote. (You will receive additional information from your instructor.)

We will continue to allow clinical training, and, with school/college approval, facilitate in-person undergraduate research experiences and undergraduate access to laboratories, studios, practice rooms, and fabrication facilities. We will also keep open some in-person spaces to facilitate learning, such as libraries, computer labs and study spaces, as well as virtual learning spaces.

If you need to complete your studies, coursework or semester here in Madison, we strongly recommend you choose to not travel for the Thanksgiving recess.  This is the safest option for students in this situation, based on the current levels of virus spread elsewhere in the state and country.  Students can continue in their on-site student research and non-research hourly positions if approved by their supervisor, provided work can’t be done virtually and is needed.

For undergraduates who choose to travel over the Thanksgiving recess, we recommend you return to your permanent home to complete your semester. This action is to help prevent spread and a potential outbreak of the virus that may occur when students travel home for Thanksgiving and then return to campus afterwards. Currently, infection rates at UW–Madison and in Dane County remain lower than most of Wisconsin, where infection rates are among the highest in the United States.

The UW–Madison campus will remain open for students who are not able to leave for the break.  Residence halls, libraries, RecWell facilities, as well as study and dining spaces will be available; however some services will be more limited after the Thanksgiving break. We’ll share more details about the availability of campus services, along with travel safety information, in November.

Finally, if your circumstance requires you to travel for the Thanksgiving recess and then return to Madison, we will ask you to:

  • Strictly limit your interactions with others for 14 days upon your return. Monitor for symptoms and schedule a COVID-19 test if they develop, or if a close contact tests positive for COVID-19.
  • If you live in residence halls, you will return to your weekly testing schedule. If you are returning from out of town, you may be asked to take a test before your usual scheduled time. Please self-isolate post-Thanksgiving until you have a confirmed negative test.
  • If you experience COVID-19 symptoms before your scheduled test, get tested as soon as possible at one of the on-campus testing locations.

We’re asking everyone to follow this guidance to limit risk to your family, friends and home community, as well as Madison and Dane County.