This message covers:

• Plans for fall campus operations

• Guidance for vaccination, masking, spaces/access, and testing

• Resources

Dear students,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. We are excited to welcome you soon to campus. I know students and their families have many questions, especially about health and safety issues. I’m writing today with an update about how the university plans to operate during the fall semester.

We continue to see encouraging progress in the fight against COVID-19 both on campus and in the broader community. Cases in Dane County have dropped to their lowest level since May 2020, driven by exceptionally strong participation in vaccination. Of those eligible to be vaccinated in Dane County, 78.5% have received at least one dose.

We know that at least 74% of UW-Madison employees have received at least one dose of vaccine. This is an under-estimate since we know that more were likely vaccinated by UW Health or another off-campus provider and have not yet shared their status.

We do not have a good estimate of student vaccinations, since many students are being vaccinated over the summer and have not yet reported those results. As of the end of the semester, our evidence suggests about 50% of the students were vaccinated. We are increasingly confident we will have a very high share of vaccinated students on campus as well – we are aiming for at least 80% -- and will be taking multiple steps to encourage vaccination among those who arrive unvaccinated.

If you are vaccinated for COVID-19, please let us know – having the most accurate information possible about our community’s vaccination rate is important as we reunite on campus. This information is used for statistical and planning purposes only and we will protect the privacy of your information.

All of the medical evidence shows that vaccinated individuals are unlikely to become infected with COVID-19 and if they do, for the vast majority the illness is mild. With a surrounding community that is highly vaccinated and a local campus community that is highly vaccinated, we should expect few infections. Those that do become infected have a low risk of transmission. While we continue to monitor the situation closely, the growing medical evidence on the effectiveness of vaccination and the high share of vaccinated individuals in our community give us confidence that we can move ahead with plans to resume more typical campus operations.

Here’s what we expect the fall will look like:

Vaccination: We will continue to offer no-cost vaccination for students, employees and the public. Vaccination is strongly encouraged; however, it is not required. As campus returns to typical operations, vaccinated individuals are protected, but unvaccinated individuals are not, so it is particularly important for those who have not gotten the vaccination to continue to wear face coverings.

We know many of our international students have been vaccinated while home this summer and they should also upload their vaccine information. Information on testing and quarantine after international travel, as well as vaccination options, will soon be available to students that will be arriving in Madison from outside the U.S.

We recognize that some people have medical conditions that prevent them from receiving full protection from vaccination. Students that have specific concerns related to health conditions should contact their Access Consultant in the McBurney Disability Resource Center. Student employees should contact their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR).

The university will not disclose an individual’s vaccination status to others. It is up to individuals to decide whether to share their vaccination status with faculty, colleagues, supervisors, and employees. Although many of us have a natural inclination to want to know that others around us are vaccinated, it is important to remember that the single best action we can take to protect ourselves is to get vaccinated. Once a person is vaccinated, they have the highest level of protection. Even if they are sitting immediately next to someone who tests positive, this is no longer considered a close contact and quarantine is not required. The vaccine offers such high protection that the risk of transmission is very low.

Masking: Consistent with local and national public health guidance, face masks are no longer required, but are still recommended for unvaccinated individuals.

Unvaccinated individuals should continue to protect themselves by wearing masks indoors and outdoors where physical distancing isn’t possible. Anyone, regardless of vaccination status, may choose to wear a mask. Choosing to wear a mask does not indicate vaccination status.

Spaces and access: Effective August 9, we will return to pre-pandemic guidelines for configuring campus spaces. Additional spacing to promote physical distancing will no longer be required; classrooms and other spaces will operate at full capacity. Also effective August 9, the Badger Badge will no longer be available as a tool to control access to spaces.

Testing: Students in residence halls who are not vaccinated must test weekly for COVID-19 and will soon receive information from University Housing. Students who live off campus and employees will not be required to test regularly. We will continue to offer no-cost, drop-in testing to employees and students.

As we retire the Safer Badgers app (including the Badger Badge), campus will transition to a new app in early August: MyUHS. Designed for students to interact with UHS regarding their healthcare, employees will also be able to use the app to schedule vaccination and COVID testing appointments as well as access test results. It also has a web version (the MyUHS portal) that students and employees already use.

If your program involves learning or research activities that occur in health care settings, check with your program director or advisor about any requirements specific to that setting.

We recognize that these changes may raise questions and concerns and we are offering a number of resources for students and employees to help navigate this transition:

Information for international students: We recognize that students traveling to Madison from outside the U.S. face several challenges this year. For the latest information and resources, please visit International Student Services. ISS will be holding a virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, June 30 at 7 p.m. CDT. Information will be provided on travel, health and safety and academic issues.

Virtual events: Students and their families are encouraged to join the Parent and Family Program for our Incoming Families Town Hall beginning at noon CDT on Tuesday, June 29. A panel of campus experts will answer questions ranging from housing, orientation, health services, advising and financial aid. The session will be recorded for viewing afterwards.

In our first event, campus health experts discussed how to prepare for these changes and reunite safely. The next sessions will take place July 22 and August 12.

What to expect webpage: This includes a new FAQ and links to policies and resources.

If you’re having trouble finding what you need, please email

I remain proud of and grateful to all UW-Madison students - those who have been with us and those who are just beginning their Badger journey. I know it has been difficult at times navigating the challenges of the past 18 months. I look forward to seeing you this fall.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank

Newsletter sent by the University of Wisconsin–Madison
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