UW-Madison to shift to remote learning for two weeks following spike in COVID-19 cases

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – UW-Madison will shift to remote learning for two weeks following a dramatic spike in positive COVID-19 cases on campuses barely a week into the start of the fall semester.

The decision was announced by Chancellor Rebecca Blank late Wednesday night.

“Unfortunately, our positive test rate among students continues to rise far too rapidly,” Blank said. “It has been 20 percent or greater for the past two days.”

Classes will be canceled from Sept. 10 through Sept. 12 and then resume online only starting Monday, Sept. 14 for two weeks, at least.

Blank said that contact tracing has shown that in-person instruction has not been a source of transmission but the decision, “comes out of an abundance of caution.”

Additionally, two residence halls — Sellery and Witte — on the UW-Madison campus will begin a two-week quarantine effective Wednesday night. Those residence halls are being singled out because of a, “high number of positive test results,” according to the university.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson released a statement saying that he is in support of the mitigation steps announced by Chancellor Blank.

“Our substantial testing has generated positive tests,” Thompson said. “This is not a surprise.”

The decision to shift to remote learning for two-weeks comes barely a week into the start of the academic year for UW-Madison. In its first week of classes, the university ordered nine fraternities to quarantine because of cases tied to those houses.

Then the Associated Students of Madison sent a letter to administrators calling on the university to shift to online classes only (with few exceptions) because of safety concerns. Chancellor Blank then asked all undergraduates to limit in-person activities to bare essentials.

On Wednesday afternoon, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi called on the university to send undergraduates back to their homes because of the high number of cases associated with the campus. Finally, Wednesday night, Blank made the announcement regarding the shift to online classes.

County Executive Parisi's letter can be read in full, below:

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