Monday, the University of Wisconsin chancellor directed students to restrict movement for the next 14 days following an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus. 

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent a message to all UW students and staff, calling on them to greatly limit in-person interaction and restrict their movement to only essential travel for the next two weeks. The order will go into effect Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. through Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. 

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In the message, Blank said the testing statistics over the past few days “threaten” UW’s ability to keep campus open to students this semester amid the pandemic.

The total number of student cases has climbed since classes began on Wednesday. Nearly 150 new cases were reported on Sunday, and the positive test rate has more than doubled in a five day period.

“We’ve reached the point where we need to quickly flatten the curve of infection, or we will lose the opportunity to have campus open to students this semester, which we know many students truly want,” Blank said. “While some increase was expected as testing expanded and students returned to campus, the growing number of infected individuals suggests the virus is starting to spread more rapidly.”

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According to the directive, essential in-person interactions include academic activities, in-person classes, medical care, jobs on or off-campus, individual outdoor activities, religious observations and food purchasing. 

All in-person social events are canceled and all other student meetings, with the exception of in-person classes, will be held online. Blank said UW will use disciplinary action to hold students accountable for their actions on and off campus, including emergency suspension.

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“I recognize that the actions I am requesting of our undergraduate students are significant,” Blank said. “This adds another layer of uncertainty to the stress they, and all of us have been feeling. But we must reduce infections among our students to ensure that they stay healthy, and to protect the health of faculty and staff as well as those in our Madison community.”