In a press briefing today, University of Wisconsin spokesperson Meredith McGlone said UW’s current focus in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic is to get students to make as many COVID-19 vaccine appointments as possible.

According to McGlone, UW received a large vaccination supply and will be opening about 3,500 appointments next week at University Health Services for students. Students will get vaccinated at the Nicholas Recreation Center, or the Nick, and can sign up for an appointment here. This weekend, starting April 24, UHS is offering special weekend hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Seniors who are graduating this semester can get the second dose at UHS even after they graduate. McGlone said UW is “confident” that seniors who get their first dose at UHS before they leave Madison will easily be able to get a second dose.

“This is particularly for those who may be leaving Madison in the summer — don’t wait to get your vaccine,” McGlone said.

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McGlone also said this year’s in-person commencement ceremony was planned keeping safety as the primary factor in mind. While it was a “big disappointment” parents and family would not be able to attend the ceremony, McGlone said this was a necessary decision as anyone who enters Camp Randall would need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. By limiting the attendance to graduates only, UW will be able to space people out further apart.

Two weeks after being fully vaccinated, a student’s Badger Badger will remain green and they will no longer need to participate in the required campus testing. 

According to McGlone, Public Health Madison and Dane County provided UW with additional doses they were unable to use. In case of a surplus, McGlone said UW has community partners to reach out to and share doses with.

“As of this point, at least 27,000 members of our campus community have at least one dose of the vaccine,” McGlone said. “That’s close to 40% of our total campus population. That’s a great start, but we know we need to keep the momentum going.”

McGlone said UW has not yet announced a COVID-19 plan for the upcoming fall semester. While UW “strongly” encourages students to get vaccinated, it is not required.

According to Pfizer, a third booster shot might be needed and people may need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 annually.

“This situation continues to evolve,” McGlone said. “The science, medical knowledge continue to change, so we’re committed to continuing to watch that and learn new information as it emerges and put into place policies that are most appropriate for the health of our community.”

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Despite warnings from the Madison Police Department, several organizers are promoting the Mifflin Block Party across social media. UW is aware of the messaging across social media about the Mifflin Block Party and UW is partnering “closely” with the City of Madison to support their messaging to residents of Mifflin St. and to hold students accountable if they violate public health guidelines.

Because this gathering is off-campus, UW is only discouraging students from attending and partnering with the city, according to McGlone who added UW cannot intervene on-site if the party were to happen.

“If you look at the timing of the event in particular and how it relates to graduation … how horrible would it be to miss your chance to be at your graduation because of a few hours at an event like that,” McGlone said.

UW has policies in place to hold students accountable for attending the gathering, but the consequences differ on a case-to-case basis — including suspension and expulsion in serious cases.