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UWEC suspends attendance policies, UW-Stout going to online-only classes amid coronavirus concerns

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Classes will continue at UW-Eau Claire despite several other UW System schools deciding to stop in-person classes.

In a memo sent to students and staff, Chancellor Jim Schmidt said face-to-face classes and labs will continue, however, attendance policies are being suspended. If you are sick you are asked not to attend class.

Schmidt is telling students and staff to be prepared to shift from face-to-face classes to online classes, but the university is not at that point yet.

In addition, spring break will still take place from March 23-27.

Over at UW-Stout, in-person classes are being canceled from March 23-April 5. All classes will continue and professors will be in contact with students to determine how that will go.

A decision will be made about classes moving forward after April 5.

Also at UW-Stout, events with attendance over 50 are canceled from Sunday, March 15 - April 5.

Other colleges that announced in-person classes are canceled include UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay.

Below is the letter sent from Schmidt to UWEC students and staff.

Over the past weeks, UW-Eau Claire has been coordinating closely with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, Barron County Health Department and other local entities regarding preparedness and response to the COVID-19 outbreak (also known as the corona virus). That includes providing our campuses with regular communication and status updates.

Undoubtedly, you also have seen media reports about the spread of the virus around the world. This includes information about what other universities in Wisconsin, the United States and other countries are doing in response to COVID-19. You can find updated information on our university COVID-19 webpage.

I am writing to you today to provide you with an update on our preparations and decisions in response to COVID-19. These decisions are being guided by the fact that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our region. Please be mindful that this is a fluid situation, and we are continuously monitoring developments and consulting with public health policy experts. Protecting faculty, staff and students is our highest priority. 

Classroom Instruction

We will continue to hold face-to-face classes and labs. However, effectively immediately, we are suspending attendance policies. If you are sick, do not attend class. We will work with students with unique medical needs to accommodate learning.

Academic Affairs is working with CETL to provide support to faculty and instructional staff for potential course disruptions. Specific guidance to faculty and instructional academic staff about ensuring continuity of instruction will be forthcoming from Provost Kleine. 

Additionally, students should be prepared, if it becomes necessary in the coming days or weeks, to shift from face-to-face classes to online instruction, including ensuring they have internet access, for the remainder of the spring semester.

Students with clinical or field practicums should monitor reports from their respective colleges or departments regarding unique precautions they may need to take, in particular related to spring break travel. 

Travel

Effective immediately we are canceling all university-sponsored travel to international areas where there are Level 3 COVID-19 outbreaks or U.S. states where there have been more than 100 reported cases of the virus. (A CDC state map is available here.) Vice chancellors, in consultation with faculty or staff, may make exceptions to this directive.

Additionally, faculty, staff or students who have concerns about traveling on a university-sponsored trip to any destination may opt out. The university will financially hold harmless those whose travel plans are canceled, including those who choose to opt out.

All other university-sponsored domestic travel may proceed as scheduled.

Spring Break

While some UW System campuses have made the decision to extend spring break, we are NOT changing our break from March 23-27. We are not asking faculty, staff or students to alter their spring break travel plans; however, travel to areas where there are Level 3 COVID-19 outbreaks or more than 100 cases reported is strongly discouraged. Should you travel to those areas, you will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days upon return. Again, we ask that faculty, staff and students follow all CDC guidelines regarding travel, hand washing, sneezing and coughing suppression techniques, and social distancing.

Those who choose to travel should have essential items they may need should they not be able to return immediately, such as laptops, coursework-related items, work-related items and medications.

Large Events and Gatherings

In accordance with guidance from our local public health officials, UW-Eau Claire is not canceling large events or gatherings at this time. This includes all of our admitted students and Admissions events, the upcoming NCAA men’s and women’s hockey games, theatrical and musical performances, and other public events including the Viennese Ball in April. We will monitor the situation in our region closely.

Guest Lecturers and Performers

These will be decided on a case-by-case basis. We ask those who have invited guest lecturers and performers to campus to determine whether those individuals live in a high-incidence state or have recently traveled to or from such an area and to make decisions to rescind invitations accordingly.

Employee Guidance

The university remains open and all employees are expected to perform their duties. However, if you are sick, do not report to work. UW System administration is currently working on specific employee recommendations and that information will be shared when it becomes available.

It is vital that we remain vigilant about the COVID-19 outbreak and take appropriate precautions and actions to ensure faculty, staff and student safety.

Precautionary measures include:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cough/sneeze into your elbow.

Thank you for your cooperation and watch for continuing updates.

James C. Schmidt

Chancellor, UW-Eau Claire

This story is developing and will be updated. Stay with News 18 for more information.

Clint Berge

Clint Berge is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager for Eau Claire’s Own WQOW News 18.
Report any website issues to him at cberge@wqow.com

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