UWM moving classes online after coronavirus test

University extends spring break by a week to make switch

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Last updated on March 12th, 2020 at 01:00 pm

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is preparing to move its classes online for the remainder of the semester to contain the spread of coronavirus after an employee of its foundation was tested Monday for the virus.

The employee became ill after contact with someone who had been to a country with a Level 3 travel warning, chancellor Mark Mone said Tuesday. The employee was tested Monday evening at a local hospital. The test results won’t be released until Friday, Mone said.

UWM has closed its UWM Foundation office at 1440 E. North Ave. and adjoining convenience store RESTOR to undergo disinfecting. The adjacent residence hall, Cambridge Commons, remains open.

Classes will continue as usual for the remainder of the week but UWM’s scheduled spring break has been extended by an additional week, and will now run from March 15 to 29. During that time, it will prepare to move the majority of its classes for all three campuses, Milwaukee, Waukesha and Washington County, online following the spring break.

The UWM campus has about 26,000 students, including 4,000 who live in student on-campus housing.

“We’re taking quick and decisive steps as a safeguard,” Mone said.

Mone said administrators have been preparing for such a move as campuses nationwide take similar steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Recent developments simply moved that timeline a little quicker,” he said.

All university-sponsored travel for students is canceled for the remainder of the semester, including university-sponsored spring break trips. Students who are already overseas with study abroad programs in countries that do not have Level 3 warnings are asked to consult with UWM study abroad administrators on whether to stay or return home.

University employees will not be allowed to engage in university-sponsored travel to areas severely impacted by coronavirus, including China, France, Germany, Iran and Italy. Employees who independently travel to those areas must self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to UWM.

The university is also discouraging students, faculty and staff from non-essential travel outside of Wisconsin through the end of the semester.

Mone said administrators will evaluate following spring break whether to keep student housing open. Students who live in student housing will receive additional guidance by the end of the week, he said.

Administrators are working to find alternatives for classes that aren’t conducive to moving online, such as those that require practicum experiences or performances.

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Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism. In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking, kayaking, and seeing live music.

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