A Smart Return to Campus for Fall 2020

We all have a role in protecting the health and safety of our Badger community.

Smart Restart logoThe University of Wisconsin-Madison will welcome students back to campus as scheduled for the start of fall classes on September 2. To ensure a “Smart Restart” amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we are developing a comprehensive plan for resuming campus activities.

Our approach:

  • The health and safety of everyone in our campus community will continue to be our top priority as we bring more people back to campus. New health measures are being put in place for everyone on campus.
  • Academic instruction will return to campus with a mix of in-person and remote courses until the Thanksgiving recess. After Thanksgiving, we’ll switch to a virtual format for all courses for the final nine days of instruction plus exams.
  • Students will live on campus this fall. University Housing is developing new safety measures and policies for residents and staff.
  • To be successful, we’ll need all our students and employees to share the responsibility of keeping our campus community healthy and safe. More information will be added to this site in the weeks to come as our plan continues to evolve. While this fall will be different than anything we’ve seen before, we look forward to the special moments that only a Wisconsin Experience can deliver.

“The health and safety steps we are announcing today are rigorous, thorough and backed by science. We believe they will go far in minimizing the risk to our campus community while allowing our students to return to many of the traditions and experiences that make a Badger education so valued.”

— Chancellor Rebecca Blank (Read her full message)

Plan Overview

Health and Safety

The university’s top priority is the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. Our strategy will include:

  • Testing available to everyone
  • Surveillance testing to track the prevalence of the virus on campus
  • Regular testing of key groups for whom we have a special duty of care
  • Campus contact tracing
  • Face coverings required in indoor spaces and outdoors where physical distancing is not possible
  • Physical distancing wherever possible
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms
  • Enhanced cleaning by custodial staff and individuals of personal workspaces
  • Handwashing and personal hygiene

More details

Academic Instruction

The university will be offering many courses in person this fall. Our strategy will include:

  • Fall semester will begin as scheduled on September 2. In-person instruction will continue until the Thanksgiving recess begins on November 26. After the holiday recessbeginning November 30, UW–Madison will switch to a virtual format for all undergraduate courses for the final nine days of instruction plus exams. Graduate and professional degree students will receive information from their program directors about instructional format during this time.
  • A full curriculum will be offered through a mix of in-person and remote courses to provide options for undergraduate students who are able to come to campus and those who are not. 
  • In-person instruction will occur in courses with fewer than 50 students (until Thanksgiving). Large classes with more than 100 students  and most with 50 to 100 students  will be delivered via remote instruction. Not all courses will be offered remotely. 
  • Schedules will be expanded to include more evening and Saturday in-person classes to achieve physical distancing requirements. 
  • The majority of updates to the modality (in-person or remote), day, time and location of classes will be completed and provided to students in late July. Students can then view their academic schedules and make changes as needed, pending course availability. 
  • Firstyear students will have many opportunities to participate in small-group experiences through First-Year Interest Groups, as well as two Wisconsin Experience seminars centered on the pandemic and social justice. 

More details

Housing and Dining

The university will operate all of its residence halls in the fall, though with enhanced safety protocols for shared spaces.

  • All dining halls operated by University Housing will be limited to housing residents and staff. While limited in-person dining will be available, grab-and-go meal options will be emphasized.
  • All students and staff in the residence halls will be tested for the virus regularly.
  • To facilitate physical distancing, lounge areas will be rearranged and some common spaces closed.
  • Residents will be limited to one visitor at a time; only other University Housing residents will be permitted (exceptions for move-in.)

More details

Workplace Plans

  • Those employees who can continue to effectively telecommute will continue to do so for the foreseeable future until otherwise instructed by their supervisor.
  • There will be more use of telework and staggered hours to reduce the number of employees in shared workspaces.
  • All employees will be expected to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces.
  • Workspaces will be rearranged to ensure better physical distancing (sample room layouts for those in shared offices are available here).
  • The university will work with staff who are at heightened risk of infection. If at all possible, the university will make reasonable accommodations that allow these employees to work in a lower-risk environment.

More details

Respect Statement

COVID-19 is not specific to an ethnicity or race—disease does not discriminate. Racist behaviors or stereotyping are not tolerated at UW–Madison. If you experience harassment or discrimination, students are encouraged to file a bias incident report. Employees may file a complaint with the Office of Compliance.