Wisconsin Public Radio

UWM Employee Tested for Coronavirus

University extending spring break a week, transitioning to online courses.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Mar 11th, 2020 10:15 am
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University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Provost and Vice Chancellor Johannes Britz, left, and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone, right, speak to the media Tuesday, March 10, 2020, about a UW-Milwaukee Foundation employee who has been tested for the coronavirus and the university's decision to extend spring break by a week and move the majority of classes to online. Photo by Alana Watson/WPR.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Provost and Vice Chancellor Johannes Britz, left, and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone, right, speak to the media Tuesday, March 10, 2020, about a UW-Milwaukee Foundation employee who has been tested for the coronavirus and the university’s decision to extend spring break by a week and move the majority of classes to online. Photo by Alana Watson/WPR.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced Tuesday afternoon they are preparing to protect the campus from an outbreak of COVID-19 after a UW-Milwaukee Foundation employee was tested for the coronavirus.

The employee was tested Monday after being in contact with someone who had been to an area with a level three travel advisory and showing symptoms. The test results won’t be back until later this week. Additional staff who worked alongside the tested employee were sent home so the university could deeply clean the foundation’s office space.

To safeguard student’s health, the university has decided to extend its spring break a week to give professors enough time to move the majority of classes to an online format.

UW-Milwaukee Provost and Vice Chancellor Johannes Britz said the university has been planning before their employee fell ill.

“We have more than 11,000 students already online,” Britz said. “So if you go online, it is actually a smart move because you minimize social mobility of students.”

UW-Milwaukee’s spring break will now be Sunday, March 15 to Sunday, March 29. Those online classes could start as early Monday, March 30.

UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone said during the Tuesday press conference that they are airing on the side of precaution.

“This particular case really makes us act with even further precaution to provide the safest environment for all our students which is paramount for us,” Mone said.

UW-Milwaukee will be surveying students to see if they would have the ability to access online courses and are encouraging faculty to be flexible as the university plans next steps.

The university is also canceling all large events and possibly it’s commencement ceremony depending on the impact toward the end of the semester. Mone also said all university-sponsored travel for students will be canceled and students who are already overseas will talk to their advisor to see when they should return home. Any students who are returning from overseas should self-monitor themselves for 14 days before returning to campus.

Roughly 4,000 students live on UW-Milwaukee’s campus. Mone said they will monitor activity and determine if they want to keep the dorm rooms open for the rest of the semester.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed the state’s third case of coronavirus and the second in Dane County on Tuesday. The patient contracted the virus while traveling to an area in the United States with community spread. There are no confirmed cases in Milwaukee, but city officials said last week they are preparing for an outbreak but it was unclear when it could arrive in the city.

UW-Madison’s Chancellor Rebecca Blank sent out an announcement Monday encouraging students and faculty to reconsider traveling outside of Dane County during spring break.

UW-Milwaukee students will continue classes regularly through the remainder of the week.

Listen to the WPR report here.

UW-Milwaukee Takes Precautions After Employee Tested For Coronavirus was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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