The situation regarding COVID-19 or coronavirus is rapidly changing. Several UW System campuses are extending their Spring Break by a week, and may move to alternative course delivery. UW-Whitewater leadership is assessing the situation and will communicate regarding our campus Spring Break (March 23-27) and what follows as soon as possible.
I strongly encourage everyone to reconsider their travel plans during Spring Break. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has grown significantly and continues to change daily. Cases internationally are also expanding. We need to be aware of the potential risks to health and safety, and canceling travel may be the most prudent step.
I am asking all students to take home with them all of their instructional materials, medications, laptops and other necessary personal items when they leave for Spring Break. This is a quickly changing situation and we need students to have necessary materials with them if campus moves to alternative instruction.
Students who live on campus and are unable to return home will receive support from University Housing staff and Student Affairs staff.
Again, no decisions have been made as of yet, but we need you all to be prepared.
For faculty and staff, regardless of the mode of course delivery, UW-Whitewater will remain open and employees will continue to report to work as scheduled, unless ill.
These steps are about preparedness and not panic. This is important. We don’t want our community to feel additional stress at an already stressful time of the year. Yet, we must be prepared. The risk rate in Wisconsin remains low at this time.
Please rest assured that the leadership at UW-Whitewater is not only watching the situation closely, but also working to make sure that our emergency plans are in place. Campus leaders have been meeting regularly since mid-January regarding COVID-19. Here is the link to the campus’s COVID-19 website: https://www.uww.edu/uhcs/covid19. There are links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other helpful sites.
A UW-Whitewater COVID-19 call-in line will also be launched on Thursday, March 12. We will send out the number once the line is live.
We will hold a COVID-19 listening session from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 19, in the Old Main Ballroom of the University Center. University Health and Counseling Services and emergency response team members will be available to discuss questions and concerns. I encourage you to attend. The listening session will also be live streamed on the campus Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uwwhitewater/.
What can you do to help?
- The best thing that you can do to keep yourself and others healthy is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- If water isn’t available, then use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60 percent alcohol to be effective.
- Refrain from shaking hands.
- If you cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or a tissue.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- If you have a fever, please stay home.
Again, I encourage all to be mindful of the risks associated with travel during the Spring Break period and seriously think about canceling those plans. I have canceled my Spring Break trip to Florida as a precautionary measure and so that I can be on campus during this critical time. We will continue to keep our campus community updated as necessary.
Dr. Dwight C. Watson