UW-Madison to reopen with in-person, online classes

University of Wisconsin-Madison officials announced Wednesday that the state’s flagship school will reopen as scheduled this fall but in-person classes will end at Thanksgiving, lecture courses will be offered online only and students will have to wear face masks.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank outlined the new parameters, dubbed the Smart Restart plan, in an email to students. She acknowledged campus life will look very different than in years past.

"The upheaval caused by COVID-19 has been hard on everyone, from students and their families to our faculty and staff," Blank said. "We want everything to return to normal, but as this memo indicates, things will be different in this coming year."

The semester will begin as scheduled on Sept. 2. Many classes will be conducted in-person but will take place in larger classrooms to facilitate social distancing. Due to a lack of large classrooms, some courses may have to take place in the evening or on Saturdays, Blank said.

Classes with more than 100 students will be held online only, as will many with between 50 to 100 students.

In-person instruction will end at the Thanksgiving break. Students will finish the last nine days of the semester and take final exams online.

Blank said university officials made that change to reduce the risk of students who become infected during the break returning to campus. Students who can’t easily go home or work remotely from home will be able to complete the semester on campus, however.

Dorms will be open when the semester begins with a reduction in student density and a no-guest policy. All students and staff in the dorm will be tested regularly for the coronavirus. Campus dining halls will serve only university housing residents and staff, with an emphasis on takeout meals.

Drop-in testing for the coronavirus will be available and special rooms will be made available for infected students to quarantine. Face masks will be required in all indoor spaces and outdoors where social distancing isn’t possible.

UW-Milwaukee officials announced Wednesday they will open for the fall semester as scheduled on Sept. 2 as well.

Dorms will be open and student services will be provided both in-person and online. Face masks will be mandatory.

Many classes will be offered with a mix of in-person and online instruction. For example, half of the students in a Tuesday-Thursday class would meet in-person on Tuesday and have online instruction on Thursday. The other half of the class would have online instruction on Tuesdays and meet physically on Tuesdays.

Classes with more than 100 students will be offered online only. Labs and studios will meet almost entirely in-person unless health conditions warrant going online. Unlike UW-Madison’s plan, in-person instruction will not end at Thanksgiving.

UW System schools sent students home in March as the pandemic was seizing the country.