The Associated Students of Madison heard a presentation from the University of Wisconsin Dean of Students Christina Olstad on the novel COVID-19 actions taken by the University of Wisconsin today.
Olstad gave a presentation to ASM on the UW’s recent decision to move classes online starting March 23. Olstad addressed questions from ASM representatives following campuswide concerns and questions about UW’s decision.
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Olstad said the UW Emergency Operations Center wants to answer students’ questions through a Google form on the COVID-19 website, which they will post soon. Olstad said the university wants to ensure they’re disseminating accurate information, especially with recent rumors surrounding students on campus contracting the virus.
“Recently, I have been hearing a lot of rumors about an individual on our campus who was diagnosed [with COVID-19],” Olstad said. “Let me be clear — at this point, we have no confirmed cases related to UW-Madison students on our campus.”
According to Olstad, Executive Director of University Health Services Jake Baggott said the university is waiting on several tests for results, and recently the tests all came back negative.
Olstad said operations will continue and the university will conduct office “business as usual,” providing ways for students to work by examining staffing models based on students who need to work or want to work.
Libraries will stay open and cleaning operations campuswide will ramp up. Additionally, Olstad said students applying to stay on campus must “make their case” for their situation, whether it is work or for another reason. Students may be able to move into other buildings if approved.
Olstad said University Housing has yet to make a decision on a refund process for residence hall housing. Academic deans are also still working out details about the grading process during the online period and in case face-to-face instruction does not resume after April 10.
Olstad said UW understands this impacts student experiences, such as events and other student services, which UW will try to maintain. Olstad asked students to remember the circumstances of COVID-19 are unique.
“Many campuses, including many of our Big 10 peers, have made decisions impacting the student experience … to minimize the amount of exposure and spread of the COVID-19,” Olstad said. “This is the first time we’ve had a pandemic situation on campus, so this in a way is unprecedented.”
Olstad said students that travel to a U.S. state with 10 or more confirmed cases or a Level 2 COVID-19 country should self quarantine for 14 days to ensure safety of the campus community.
Assistant Director of the Bias Response in the Dean of Students office Jenna Friedman also gave a presentation on the impacts of COVID-19 in recent bias reports.
Friedman said the office has seen an uptick in reports as the prevalence of COVID-19 has increased, especially reports targeting Asian and international students. Friedman said students should be sure to report incidents and be aware of bias during this time.