Fall 2020 Instruction

Health and Safety

The health and safety of everyone in the campus community will continue to be a top priority as more people return to campus. UW–Madison’s strategy will rely on a rigorous approach to testing, cleaning, face covering and symptom monitoring, all aimed at keeping the risk of disease as low as possible. To be successful, we will need all our students and employees to share the responsibility of keeping our campus community healthy and safe.

View broader campus health and safety measures, as well as the “Principles of Health and Safety in the Classroom” report developed by the Instructional Continuity Instructor Safety Guidance Team. Details of the report are also shared in the sections below.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

COVID-19 Transmission Information and Hierarchy of Controls

Coronaviruses are common viruses found in humans that can cause respiratory diseases (e.g., the common cold) and gastrointestinal disease (e.g., the stomach flu). Coronavirus disease, COVID-19 is caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)  (Wiersinga 2020). Like other respiratory viruses, COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted over multiple routes, with exposure to droplets being the most likely sources of spread (Morawska and Cao 2020). Droplet transmission occurs when the virus is connected to a larger particle such as mucus or saliva. These infected droplets fall quickly and near the infected person. Aerosol transmission occurs when the virus is connected to smaller particles of mucus or saliva, which can loiter in the air and be carried farther away from the infected person (Jayaweera 2020). Individuals spread droplets and aerosols whenever they talk, breathe, cough or sneeze. A third potential route of transmission for the virus occurs through contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g., touching a surface that has infected droplets on it). There is not yet scientific consensus on the amount of virus on a surface required to cause an individual to become infected or the amount of time a virus can live on various surfaces (Wiersinga 2020).

Transmission requires exposure to the virus from an infected person. Persons infected with COVID-19 can be symptomatic (e.g., fever, cough, short of breath) or asymptomatic. Exposure to the droplets or aerosols from an asymptomatic infected person generally occurs when individuals are at close distances (less than 6 feet) for at least 15 minutes (CDC). Transmission can occur during more brief exposures from symptomatic infected persons (e.g., coughing, sneezing). In other words, brief exposure to asymptomatic individuals does not result in higher rates of transmission, while brief exposure to symptomatic individuals does result in higher rates of transmission (Wiersinga 2020). Once the virus is transmitted and the body becomes infected, it can take several days for the infected person to feel ill, but they can still be transmitting the virus to others. This period prior to the onset of illness represents a time when wearing masks and hand hygiene are particularly important and particularly useful tools to prevent transmission.

The science around COVID-19 is dynamic, so the guidance presented here is current based on July 2020 information. Visit UW-Madison’s Smart Restart website for updates related to exposure risk mitigation for faculty, staff and students. 

Hierarchy of Controls

Given the potential routes of transmission for COVID-19, controlling exposure to this occupational hazard is the fundamental method of protecting workers. Traditionally, a hierarchy of controls has been used as a means of determining how to implement feasible and effective control solutions. The idea behind this hierarchy is that the control methods at the top of graphic are potentially more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following this hierarchy normally leads to the implementation of inherently safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury has been substantially reduced. Since elimination and substitution are not always possible, we must reduce risk with other control methods.

Diagram of an inverted piramid depicting the hierarchy of controls

Campus Testing and Contact Tracing

Testing

Testing is key to identifying infection and keeping it from spreading. UW will implement a robust, three-part testing plan:

  • Free, unlimited, on-campus testing will be available to the entire campus community beginning Aug. 6 on Henry Mall. Additional testing sites will be added.
  • Surveillance testing will track the prevalence of the virus on campus, including among those who are asymptomatic. Volunteer cohorts of 10 people will be tested on a rotating basis, with up to 2,000 people tested each week.
  • Regular, targeted testing will be required of certain groups for whom we have a special duty of care. For instance, all students and staff in the residence halls will be tested regularly. (Residents of University Apartments will not be part of this.)

Campus contact tracing

  • Contact tracers trained in conjunction with Public Health Madison & Dane County will be employed.

Testing, while essential, is effective only when combined with four other precautions: face covering, physical distancing, cleaning/hygiene, and symptom monitoring.

Find more information on testing including on-campus testing locations, getting test results and what to do if you test positive for COVID-19.

Face Coverings and PPE - Use and Access

Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Use

  • All campus employees – including instructors – and students returning to campus will be required to wear face coverings in indoor spaces, including classrooms, and outdoors where physical distancing is not possible. Face coverings must be worn correctly (i.e., covering both your mouth and nose). See campus guidance on the use of face coverings.
  • Students with disabilities or medical conditions who are unable to wear a face covering should contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center or their Access Consultant if they are already affiliated. Students who request an accommodation related to wearing a face covering unrelated to disability or medical condition, should contact the Dean of Students Office. If a student is approved for an accommodation in either of the above circumstances, their instructors will receive a notification via email. Students are also encouraged to contact their instructor and notify them of their accommodation(s).
  • Students who choose not to wear a face covering may not attend in-person classes, unless they are approved for an accommodation or exemption. All other students not wearing a face covering will be asked to put one on or leave the classroom by the instructor. Students who refuse to wear face coverings appropriately or adhere to other stated requirements will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards and will not be allowed to return to the classroom until they agree to comply with the face covering policy. An instructor may cancel or suspend a course in-person meeting if a person is in the classroom without an approved face covering in position over their nose and mouth and refuses to immediately comply.
  • Other considerations, such as for certain music courses, are being worked on and will be provided in the coming weeks.
  • These guidelines are also provided in the university’s recommended syllabus template (see the “Syllabi and Course Expectations” section below to access the template directly).

What’s Provided

  • Face coverings will be provided to all campus employees – including instructors – as well as students, free of charge. Instructors and students may also choose to wear their own face coverings.
    • Students returning to campus will be provided a kit that contains cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer and educational material that outlines expected public health protocols.
  • Face shields will also be provided to instructors, in coordination with schools and colleges. Distribution processes are still being discussed and finalized.

Additional Supplies, Procurement and Distribution

Units can also obtain additional face coverings and other PPE through the COVID-19 Smart Restart Catalog. Items are funded centrally (at no cost to units), and include:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting supplies
  • Individual-use hand sanitizer
  • Branded and non-branded face coverings
  • Disposable procedure masks, gloves and face shields

Specially designated divisional staff will be notified and responsible for ordering supplies for their designated unit. See further details on PPE procurement.

De-densification and Physical Distancing in Instructional Spaces

In general, physical distancing should be maintained wherever possible, both indoors and outdoors on campus. To help allow for physical distancing across campus, the university is offering a mix of in-person and remote courses.

All classroom capacities have been reduced to allow for physical distancing, and additional campus spaces have been repurposed for added classroom use. Seating will be separated by at least 6 feet in all classrooms, with signage indicating where students are allowed to sit (and where furniture should be placed / left).

Few rooms on campus are able to accommodate this setup for classes with more than 50 students. As such, most courses with 50 or more enrollments will be offered remotely, while associated discussion sections and other smaller classes may be offered in-person, remote or a mixture to provide options for students.

The regular class schedule has also been extended (to 9:45pm, Monday through Thursday, and Saturday mornings) to further reduce the overall density in classrooms and avoid crowding during class changes.

Background on Physically Distancing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a six-foot (2-m) separation for most interactions, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends three-foot (1-m). This six-foot distance recommendation began to evolve after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 provided indications that respiratory droplet secretions could reach persons 6 feet or more from their source. Six feet is thought to be the average distance that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough travel before they settle and are no longer likely to be inhaled by other people. Travel distance is influenced by many factors such as velocity and mechanism by which respiratory droplets are propelled from the source, the density of respiratory secretions, and environmental factors such as temperature and humidity (CDC 2007).

Droplet transmission appears to be the more common route of transmission for COVID-19 (WHO), but transmission via aerosols should also be considered. Aerosolized transmission is the most difficult to mitigate through individual behaviors or PPE. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to consider ways of further reducing the proximity and duration in which students are together in indoor spaces (e.g., holding class outdoors when possible). The most effective means of reducing aerosolized transmission is to reduce or eliminate the presence of infectious people in the classroom by self-monitoring and staying home when necessary, according to campus and public health guidance.

Cleaning and Disinfection of Campus and Instructional Spaces

In general, cleaning and modifications to campus spaces will include:

  • Enhanced cleaning by custodial staff and individuals of personal work spaces (including offices and labs)
  • Interior space modifications (including sample room layouts and guidelines for use of physical barriers)
  • Building systems review and updates, if possible (including HVAC)

See more details on general facilities guidance and protocols.

Instructional Spaces

Keeping instructional spaces clean and disinfected requires a collective effort from both custodial services, and the students and instructors that use those spaces. Working together will keep these spaces clean and safe for everyone that uses them.

Campus cleaning and disinfection procedures are operating in a proactive approach with a layered defense. The procedures help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 via surfaces and stay ahead of reports of positive cases, regardless of the space or area where the affected person may have been.

Cleaning and disinfecting are just two factors in a greater campus-wide approach to mitigating risk to employees, students and campus visitors. Taken together with other safeguards such as decreased density, required face coverings, and frequent hand washing, these protocols are aligned with local and CDC guidelines for limiting exposure to the COVID-19 virus. 

Supplies

Each instructional space, including labs, will be stocked with a supply of cleaning supplies so that students and instructors can clean their individual areas upon arrival and before departure. Facilities Planning & Management (FP&M) is providing each classroom with Oxivir Tb, an EPA-registered disinfectant, and directions for use. Gloves are not required for use with Oxivir Tb and are generally NOT recommended as a measure to protect against COVID-19. Do not wear lab gloves outside of the laboratory or other required uses. Hand hygiene is important to reduce transmission. More than 500 hand-sanitizer stations have been installed in campus buildings, including outside classrooms. Students and instructors are encouraged to use these supplies to frequently sanitize their hands.

FP&M Responsibilities

FP&M will conduct routine cleaning and also focus custodial cleaning efforts on increased cleaning frequency of high-touch common areas in buildings, including restrooms. (See daily cleaning and disinfection information). Out of an abundance of caution, in the event of a reported case or outbreak, space closure and/or additional cleaning may be performed as determined by campus health professionals. 

Instructor and Student Responsibilities

Instructors and students are responsible for cleaning their immediate area (desk, seat, lectern, lab equipment, etc.) when they arrive in a classroom or lab, using the provided cleaning and disinfection supplies. See guidance for cleaning classrooms.

Individual Symptom Monitoring and Personal Hygiene

All campus employees – including instructors – and students returning to campus should:

Educational sessions on COVID-19 and how to monitor symptoms will be offered.

COVID-19 Training for Campus Employees

All employees returning to work on campus will be required to complete a mandatory online COVID-19 training. This training will include basic information about COVID-19, physical distancing and hygiene, cleaning and disinfection, the use of personal protective equipment, and other best practices for reducing exposure risks.

General Considerations and Guidance for Common In-person Course Activities

The following are general considerations and guidance for some of the most common activities that occur before, during and prior to an in-person course. (*This list is not intended to be exhaustive.)

  • Before each face-to-face class period, use provided disinfectant to clean shared equipment or high-touch areas. These locations may include the podium, dry erase markers, and computer mouse and keyboard.
  • Explore teaching methods that support physical distance such as viewing video demonstration or video projection of a demonstration.
  • Consider active learning approaches that can be used in the physically distanced environment.
  • Consider teaching methods that reduce the duration of students remaining together in indoor spaces. Examples could include:
    • Holding some class periods outside on campus
    • Moving some class periods to a remote format
    • Blended courses in which content is delivered online and in-person classes are reserved for discussions or other activities
  • Develop instructional protocols to accommodate students who miss classes due to quarantine or isolation. Campus guidance on this is forthcoming.
  • Develop a contingency plan in the event that you require quarantine or isolation.
  • Quarantine is required when an individual has had close contact (within 6ft for 15 minutes) with an infected person. If class interactions are structured where this definition is not met, if one person tests positive, the other class members will not need to quarantine. This is also true for instructor and TA interaction. Ensure instructors maintain distance to prevent multiple instructors having to quarantine if one tests positive.
  • To avoid congestion indoors, students and instructors should stay to the right as they enter and exit classrooms and avoid close proximity.
  • If instructional materials are to be distributed for class use, place them at each student’s seat prior to them entering the classroom to avoid distribution at full occupancy.
  • Minimize the number of items that need to be handled by multiple persons. If more than one individual needs to manipulate an object in order to communicate the instruction successfully, have all individuals use a hand sanitizer before handling, or disinfect items between individuals.
  • Maintain physical spacing greater than 6-feet for all face-to-face interactions, especially where forceful exhalations will occur, such as during exercise, dancing, singing or playing of musical instruments.
    • Keep in-person breakout sessions small enough to maintain distancing.
  • Consider ending instructional activities a few minutes prior to the end of the scheduled classroom period to allow time for students to put away personal items and exit the classroom in a physically distanced manner.
  • All individuals on campus are expected to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms each day before reporting to work. Self-monitoring includes assessing coughs, sneezes, breathing difficulty, etc., and should follow the most recent Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidance.
  • Campus is working to update the campus syllabus template to provide instructors with a standard template for student expectations around proper health safety behaviors. This will include guidance on symptom monitoring, what to do if a student is not wearing a face covering, and what to do if a student needs to isolate or quarantine.

Example Scenario and Considerations for Instructors

Prior to the Start of the Semester 

  • Complete the online COVID-19 training for on-site workers
  • Students will sign a Badger Pledge indicating that they understand their shared responsibility for keeping our campus community healthy and safe, and controlling the spread of COVID-19. The pledge includes a commitment to wear a face covering and adhere to physical distancing and other public safety protocols.
  • Students unable to wear a face-covering due to disability, medical condition, or other legitimate reason have been directed to contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center or their Access Consultant, if they are already affiliated, prior to the start of classes. Students requesting an accommodation unrelated to disability or medical condition, should contact the Dean of Students Office.
  • You will be provided face coverings, face shields and information about other supplies such as microphones. A list of materials and information on how they will be distributed will also be shared with you.
  • Practice speaking in your face covering and face shield. Anti-fog spray is helpful if you experience fogging on your glasses or face shield.
  • “Have a Seat” signs will be placed in classrooms  to indicate where students should sit, as well as floor decals to indicate where furniture should be placed and remain.

Prior to the Start of an In-person Class

  • Enter the classroom with the safety items described above.
  • Ensure that your face covering / face shield is comfortable and on securely. Reduce gaps between your face and the mask to increase filtration performance.
  • Distribute any required instructional materials or handouts to seating locations before students arrive.
  • Wipe down your work area with supplied classroom cleaning wipes.
  • If in a classroom with an audio-visual system, use the microphone or one that you have been provided by your unit, if appropriate. Students may have difficulty hearing you because of the face coverings and physical distancing, although in some rooms the reduced student density may also mean a microphone is unnecessary.
  • Remind students to use provided cleaning supplies to clean their desk surface and seats, and any equipment or materials they may be touching.
  • Offer a disposable face covering to any students who may have forgotten theirs. (The process by which extra face coverings will be distributed to classrooms is currently in development.)
  • Remind students of expectations around proper health and safety behaviors including symptom monitoring, wearing face coverings and cleaning of desks/seats. Suggested language will be provided in the university’s recommended syllabus template including what to do if a student refuses to wear a face covering or follow other health and safety protocols.

During Class

  • Continue to maintain physical distancing of six feet between yourself and students. The classroom furniture will be set up to maintain this distance, so keep the furniture where it is.
  • If students are expected to work on an instructional activity as a team in the classroom, limit group size based on the available configuration to maintain the necessary six-foot distance.
  • Avoid instructional activities that necessitate sharing of common materials, such as passing around a sheet of paper, a microphone, or other items, or disinfect in between uses.

End of Class

  • Consider ending instructional activities a few minutes prior to the end of the scheduled classroom period to allow time for students to put away personal items and exit the classroom in a physically distanced manner.
  • Ask students to deposit used cleaning wipes in trash receptacles on the way out of the classroom.
  • Take steps to coordinate exiting, such as asking the last row of students to leave first, then the next row, etc.
  • Take all of your materials with you prior to leaving the classroom (e.g. whiteboard markers, chalk, hand sanitizer).
  • Wiping down the immediate instructional area (podium, keyboard, mouse) upon exit is optional, as the next occupant will clean the space prior to beginning their class.

Instructors requesting additional guidance on unusual circumstances can contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety for a consultation. For additional information on facilities, see the FP&M Facilities Start-up Guide.

Building and Classroom Signage

  • Signage will be placed throughout campus buildings including classrooms, entrances, hallways, restrooms, elevators, break rooms etc. See more details about signage.
  • “Sit Here Signs” will be placed in classrooms to indicated where students should sit, as well as floor decals to indicate where furniture should be placed and remain.

Course Design and Delivery

As part of our Instructional Continuity efforts, instructional designers from across campus are working with instructors to develop courses. Whether your courses are fully remote, blended or in-person in a physically distanced format, the Instructional Continuity Teams have put together a wide variety of resources to support your course planning, design and implementation. Additional information will continue to be added as it becomes available.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Mix of In-person and Remote Courses

Schools, Colleges and Departments

Departments, with guidance from their respective deans’ offices, are determining the curricula they will offer this fall and whether their courses will be offered remotely, in person or both.

Departments are aiming to provide remote learning options in as many undergraduate majors as possible. This, however, does not mean that all courses will be offered fully remote, and only some may be offered in dual-modality – both in-person and remote.

Notification to Instructors and Students

Updates to the modality (in-person or remote), day, time and location of classes will be ongoing until the beginning of the semester; however, the majority of updates were completed the week of July 20.

Students are able to view their current schedule and make changes, if desired, pending course availability. Undergraduate students are encouraged to follow the steps outlined on this Office of Undergraduate Advising webpage, and then contact their academic advisors for further support, if needed.

Schools and colleges, in consultation with their departments, will work with individual instructors, including TAs, who may have scheduling constraints or health limitations that require adaptation.

Course Design Resources and Support

Can’t find what you’re looking for or need additional support, contact us. Our teams are made up of individuals from units across campus including faculty and instructional staff from schools and colleges.

Syllabus Template and Communicating Course Expectations

Access the university-recommended syllabus template and guidance for using it to communicate course expectations to students.

Supporting Academic Progress When Students Isolate or Quarantine

See these guidelines and resources for how to help students continue to make academic progress in the event that they need to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19.

Office Hours and Academic Advising Appointments

It is recommended that all instructor office hours for the fall 2020 term be conducted remotely regardless of whether the course is delivered remotely or in-person. Instructors may make exceptions; however, any in-person meeting must follow current health and safety guidelines including physically distancing.

It is also recommended that individual campus advising appointments and group advising sessions for the fall 2020 term be conducted remotely. Advisors may make occasional exceptions; however, any in-person meeting must follow current health and safety guidelines including physically distancing. View more information about advising.