Staying safe over Thanksiving break

A student studies on campus.
November 17, 2020

Today’s focus is on the importance of safety as we prepare for the upcoming break.

As you are aware, last week UW-Stout, along with UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls, made the difficult decision to shift to virtual instruction after the upcoming fall break. This was not due to a spike in cases at the university, as our number of positive cases have remained relatively stable throughout the semester. Rather, we are making the shift for the following reasons: 

  1. The critically high level and growing number of COVID-19 cases in western Wisconsin and the state of Wisconsin;
  2. the ICU bed capacity in the region, both in the Twin Cities metro area and Eau Claire area, which are both at, or near, full capacity;
  3. The governor's November 10th press conference, as well as his Executive Order 94, in which he strongly urged everyone in our state to limit travel and gatherings, particularly over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, which presents a significant risk for cases to spike even further.

Our move to virtual instruction after the November break will contribute to the health and safety of our campus and surrounding community.  In addition, we urge all students, staff, and faculty to reduce their risk by following these safety protocols based on state and CDC guidelines:

  1. Travel: We strongly discourage travel and ask that, if you make the decision to travel, you do so with an abundance of caution for mitigating potential risk to yourself and others.
  1. Gatherings: We strongly discourage gatherings with people outside of your current household during this time.  A resource site has been developed to help make these decisions and encourage safe practices during the break.
     
  2. Testing/Quarantine: We ask that all off-campus students and employees consider taking advantage of our free surge testing.  Residence hall students will also participate in an increased testing regimen, which includes the following:
  • One test before leaving campus that must take place between November 16-20
  • Two tests during the week after they return, between November 29-December 4
  • Weekly testing through Wednesday, Dec. 22
  • Residence hall students, who plan to stay on campus during Fall (Thanksgiving) Break (November 25-29), must take an additional test on either Monday, Nov. 23, or Tuesday, Nov. 24.

I also want to emphasize that this decision does not affect our plans for Winterm or the spring 2021 semester.

The UW-Stout community has done an incredible job keeping our campus safe this semester. I cannot tell you how proud it makes me feel to hear from so many Menomonie community members and campus visitors about how impressed they are with how we are following safety protocols. Your dedication to these practices is what has allowed us to continue operating as we have done so far. I cannot overstate how grateful I am for everyone’s efforts. 

Now, I am asking our entire community to not only continue this good work, but also to increase our safety efforts. Doing so will help protect ourselves, our loved ones, and support the health of our local and university community. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the region, state, and country, it is imperative that the UW-Stout community continues to do all we can to help keep everyone safe during this challenging time.

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