COVID-19 FAQs

If you don’t see your question answered here, feel free to contact us.

UW-Madison also has an extensive COVID-19 FAQs page that answers many other questions about testing, the Safer Badgers app, building access, and more.

General

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Are University Residence Halls open this year?

Yes, University Housing has taken extraordinary measures to maintain a safe, supportive environment for students who choose to live on campus for the 2020-21 academic year. Through required COVID-19 testing, enhanced cleaning protocols, facility adjustments, and new resident policies, we plan to build upon our success from this fall and provide a great on-campus living experience.

What will the spring semester look like?

UW-Madison announced the decision to continue with a hybrid model of instruction for the spring 2021 semester, with a mix of in-person and virtual courses. University Residence Halls will reopen on January 20, with instruction beginning January 25.

Additional updates about the spring semester were shared in December with information about COVID-19 testing, the Safer Badgers app, and returning to Madison after Winter Break.

University Residence Halls will have space available this spring for students who may have chosen to stay home for the fall. Whether you’re planning to take some in-person classes or just want to get an on-campus experience, contact our Assignment Office if you’re interested in living on campus for the spring semester.

Can I continue to live in the University Residence Halls if all of my classes are remote?

Yes, students can still live in the residence halls if all their courses are remote. Students living in the residence halls should continue to be tested for COVID-19 every 72 hours.

Will I need to use the Safer Badger app to access my residence hall?

At this time, the Safer Badgers app will not be used to manage access to residence halls. However, residents who do not stay current with required testing will receive follow-up from Residence Life staff and can face disciplinary action, including removal from Housing. Residents who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed will still need to go to isolation or quarantine spaces until they are cleared to return. Most Housing dining markets will be monitored for access through the app.

What kind of programs will be offered this spring for residents?

To start the spring semester, all resident programs and events will continue to be virtual. We plan to offer weekly virtual events through our Wisconsin Late Night Series and the Center for Cultural Enrichment, including popular past programs like Grocery Bingo and a Trivia Tournament, as well as weekly events planned in each residential community by student staff. Campus will also be offering many virtual programs and some small group in-person programs. If COVID-19 cases remain low on campus and in the surrounding community, Housing will work with UHS and other campus partners to eventually support safe in-person activities following current public health guidelines, but this is difficult to predict.

How are policies enforced?

Staff perform nightly rounds of all resident floors and all resident entrances are monitored by security cameras and a 24-hour electronic locking system. All residents are expected to adhere to policies in the Student Housing Handbook. Violations of COVID-related policies can result in removal of students from their residence hall and revocation of their Housing contract with no refund. ID checking will continue in our higher-population buildings.

What can I do if I see policies being violated?

The UW-Madison Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards has a form to fill out to to report a public health concern. Please be aware that the more specific information is provided, the better we will be able to act on the report.

If I already had COVID-19 or received the vaccine, do I still have to follow the public health guidelines?

Yes, all residents must continue following requirements for face coverings in common areas, physical distancing, hand washing, visitor policies, and avoiding gatherings. The vaccine efficacy rate is not 100%, which can result in some who are vaccinated still contracting and transmitting the virus. There have also been some documented cases of reinfection, so it is also important for those who already had COVID-19 to continue following our policies and guidelines, for the safety of themselves and others.

Students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 are exempted from engaging in testing for 90 days after a positive test. During that time, they would also be exempt from quarantine if exposed. However, students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are still required to follow the testing process at this time.

What is UW-Madison's authority to implement these policies?

UW-Madison has authority under State law to protect the health and safety of those on campus. Policies of the Board of Regents also empower the Chancellor to develop public health polices and require those on campus to comply with those policies.

How safe are the residence halls?

We’ve taken a number of measures to enhance safety with regard to COVID-19 in all residence halls. Here are a few:

  • All residents and on-site Housing staff are tested regularly for COVID-19
  • Residents who test positive are required to move to isolation or quarantine housing
  • Staff who test positive must self-isolate and are not able to work on campus
  • Staff disinfect high touch point areas in all common spaces and bathrooms at least twice daily with electrostatic sprayers and EPA-registered disinfectants effective against COVID-19
  • Additional hand sanitizer stations, disinfectant wipe stations, and cleaning supplies are available
  • Staff are regularly checking residents’ IDs to enforce visitor policies
  • Behavioral requirements of all residents (outlined in our Student Housing Handbook)
    • Violations can result in revocation of resident’s Housing contract with no refund
    • Violations will also be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards for additional student discipline, which could include emergency suspension from UW-Madison
  • Barriers/shields are installed at all service desks, cashier stations, and on partition walls in dining room areas
  • Occupancy in common spaces is reduced and seating arrangements have been modified to promote physical distancing
  • All staff receive COVID-19 training and education, wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
  • All Housing Dining facilities are only accessible by residents and Housing staff
  • Additional food delivery and pick-up options are available through the Starship Deliveries or GrubHub applications

I live in the residence halls, but I don’t want to share a room – can I have a single?

If you are interested in changing rooms, you can fill out a room change request form in My UW Housing and indicate your preferences on room type and buildings. If we are able to offer you a room change, we will email you the room change offer. University Housing is not allowing students to move into Sellery or Witte to manage reduced density in these residence halls. We are not sure how long this will be in effect, but we anticipate that it will be for the remainder of Academic Year 2020-2021.

What will Fall 2021 look like in the residence halls?

UW-Madison is planning for a resumption of primarily in-person instruction for the fall semester 2021. As is evident from the past year, circumstances and situations can change and change quickly. Planning for the fall semester is still underway, including details on specific health protocols such as face coverings, physical distancing, and COVID-19 testing. In the residence halls, we hope to return to offering some in-person events and activities in the fall, depending on the situation at that time. More information will be shared as it becomes available.

Testing

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I live in a residence hall – how often do I need to get tested?

All residents are required to participate in COVID-19 testing every 72 hours during the academic year. Some residents will be required to test more frequently if their residence hall experiences positive cases. You can use the Safer Badgers app to check wait times and visit the test site that works best for you. Safer Badgers will also tell you when you need to complete your next test to stay in compliance. Residents should primarily get tested at one of the Housing testing sites (Holt Center or Ogg Residence Hall) if possible.

For the spring semester, residents will not be assigned to specific testing days.

Note: students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 are exempted from engaging in testing for 90 days after a positive test. After the 90-day period ends, students must follow campus testing procedures. If a student was tested off campus before the spring semester, they must submit proof of a positive test, including the lab result and the result interpretation via the Safer Badgers app for assessment. Students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are still required to follow the testing process at this time. The vaccine efficacy rate is not 100%, which can result in some who are vaccinated contracting and transmitting the virus.

Why are some residence halls having to test more frequently?

One way to help reduce spread of the virus is increased testing, which allows us to help quickly isolate people with COVID-19 from others. While transmission rates are lower than last semester thanks to our efforts, we are taking a conservative, proactive approach to limit viral spread and prevent potential outbreaks. When there are signs of continued local transmission within a residence hall, University Health Services may advise increased testing of those residents to help identify positive cases and prevent further spread. This targeted action is a normal part of our process this semester. These decisions by UHS health experts are based on multiple criteria and not just one metric from test results.

Which testing method will be used for residents?

The Housing testing sites at Ogg Residence Hall and Holt Center will continue to use a nasal swab testing method. All other campus sites will use a saliva testing method.

Please note that testing preparation instructions in the Safer Badgers app are written for the saliva testing method. At these sites, it is important to prepare correctly for the saliva test in order to get a successful result. For the nasal swab testing at Ogg and Holt, it is not necessary to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking before your test.

Where can I go for my tests?

For those living in the residence halls, residents will still test primarily at the Housing locations in Ogg Residence Hall and Holt Center. Other campus testing sites can be used at night or on weekends if needed.

If I have already had COVID-19 or received the vaccine, am I still required to get tested?

Students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine are still required to follow the testing process at this time. The vaccine efficacy rate is not 100%, which can result in some who are vaccinated contracting and transmitting the virus.

Students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 are exempted from engaging in testing for 90 days after a positive test. After the 90-day period ends, students must follow campus testing procedures. If a student was tested off campus before the spring semester, they must submit proof of a positive test, including the lab result and the result interpretation via the Safer Badgers app for assessment.

What happens if I or someone from my residence hall floor tests positive for COVID-19?

Residents who test positive for COVID-19 are notified by University Health Services (UHS). They will then be placed in isolation housing for a minimum of 10 days. Contact tracers or Housing staff will connect with any close contacts (such as a roommate) about being placed in quarantine housing for a minimum of 14 days. Students will be provided information from Housing about what items to take including clothing, medication, academic materials, laptop, and other personal items.

If I need to travel away from campus or go home for a weekend, how do I stay in compliance?

If you plan to leave your residence hall for more than two consecutive days, please let us know by filling out the “Temporary Vacate Room” form in My UW Housing, as you will be unable to meet your testing requirements. This form will temporarily excuse you from any sanctions associated with not being in compliance with the testing policy during your time away. However, your Badger Badge will be red and your access to campus buildings will be denied until you have a negative test on file. When you return to Madison, please complete a COVID-19 test within 24 hours.

Please note that guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that students should limit travel. If you can stay where you are, that is the safest course to protect you, your family, and the community.

Quarantine & Isolation

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What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation housing is for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. They are placed in a designated residence hall isolation space for a minimum of 10 days until cleared by UHS to return to their regular room.

Quarantine housing is for residents who have been contacted about medium or high-risk exposure to COVID-19, such as the roommate of a COVID-positive student. They are placed in a designated hotel space for a minimum of 14 days until cleared by UHS to return to their regular room.

What happens if I need to go into isolation or quarantine?

In the residence halls, if a resident needs to isolate (positive test result) or quarantine (close contact), they will be notified by UHS or Housing staff. The process for relocating to isolation or quarantine housing will depend on the timing of the notification.

Daytime Notifications (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM)

  • If you receive notification between the hours of 8:00 AM-6:00 PM that you need to isolate (positive test result) or quarantine (close contact), you will be contacted to relocate as soon as possible.

After-Hours Notifications (After 6:00 PM)

  • If you receive a notification after 6:00 PM, you will be relocated to isolation or quarantine housing the next morning.  Please limit your activity outside of your room and avoid contact with others. You should only leave your room to use the restroom or in case of an emergency. You must also follow all public health guidelines, including use of face coverings, physical distancing, and hand washing.
  • If you do not feel comfortable staying in your room until the morning, you can request to be moved after hours. Please contact the House Fellow on Duty.

Residents can find further details about entering isolation and entering quarantine on our COVID-19 Housing Accommodations site.

If I'm placed in quarantine, how long will I be there?

In most cases, a student placed into quarantine housing will remain there for 14 days. Because the virus that causes COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that a 14-day quarantine is the most effective for preventing transmission. The CDC updated its guidance in late 2020 to allow for shorter quarantines under some circumstance, but quarantine duration is based on a number of factors and should take into account the unique circumstances of living situations. Because residence hall students live in what is called congregate housing, these students will need to complete a 14-day quarantine unless they receive different guidance from a medical provider at University Health Services.

More guidance on quarantine is available from Public Health Madison & Dane County.

If I am in quarantine housing and test positive, am I then moved to isolation housing?

No, you will stay in your current location in quarantine housing until your isolation period is over, or until you are cleared to return to your residence hall by UHS.

How can I receive packages while in quarantine or isolation housing?

When a package is logged for you, you will receive an email notification. After receiving this notification, email our isolation housing team and request your package be brought to your temporary housing.

Resources

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How are Housing staff supporting residents?

Housing staff are working hard to balance new health guidelines with providing support to residents. The staff can be a great resource, especially during this unique year, including staff in our Hall Desk, Residence Life, and Facilities areas. We continue working to get the word out to residents about virtual events and programs around campus.

Where can I go to study outside my room?

Study rooms and lounges in the residence halls are available with some capacity restrictions. Other campus study spaces may also be available with reduced capacity.

What health resources are available to students who feel sick or have mental health concerns?

If students are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, symptoms of anxiety or depression, or any other medical concerns, please call University Health Services (UHS) at 608-265-5600. UHS has a 24/7 nurse advice line and a 24/7 mental health crisis line for concerns that arise after hours and on the weekends. If a student is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, they should dial 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

  • Medical: 608-265-5600 (option 1) – if you have general COVOD-19 questions
  • Mental Health Services: 608-265-5600 (option 2)
  • 24/7 Mental Health Crisis: 608-265-5600 (option 9)
  • COVID Health Line: 608-265-5600 (option 8) – if you are not feeling well and are concerned your symptoms may be COVID-19 related

How are students of color being supported through this?

The Center for Cultural Enrichment (CCE) in Witte is hosting drop-in hours for residents. In addition, the CCE plans on hosting virtual events for residents that will be shared on social media and resident newsletters.

The Multicultural Learning Community (MLC) in Witte has multiple virtual events and spaces each week that will continue for residents. In addition, MLC House Fellows are accessible virtually for all residents of the MLC.

Dining

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What Dining facilities will be open?

Go to our Dining locations and hours page to see the latest updates on what dining facilities are open. For the spring semester,  all University Housing Dining Buildings will only be accessible by University Housing Staff and Residents.

Can I dine-in at any of the dining locations?

For the spring semester, our dining locations dine-in seating is available with reduced capacity. This is subject to change. All University Housing Dining Buildings will only be accessible by University Housing Staff and Residents. While in the markets, please maintain physical distancing, and wear face coverings. All meal options will also be available in to-go containers.

Will I need to use the Safer Badger app to access dining locations?

Most Housing dining locations will be monitored for access through the app. Limited in-house seating is available, and customers will need a green badge in the app in order to dine in. Customers with a red badge can still enter and purchase food for carryout.

What if I have special dietary needs or restrictions?

Students with dietary needs should continue to work with our dietitian.

What if I am unable to afford the food options available in residence hall quarantine or isolation?

We are committed to ensuring that residents who experience food insecurity have access to nourishing food. If a resident is unable to afford the food options available in residence hall quarantine or isolation, reach out to us.  We have several options we can direct you to and assistance we can offer, such as à la carte items from Flamingo Run, which includes grab-and-go meal options or other reheatable entrees. Options will vary by residence hall, but our commitment to ensuring students receive the food they need to be successful and not add unneeded stress during this difficult time will remain the same.

If you feel these options will not provide the food security you need, contact Housing Dining’s Director, Peter Testory to discuss your needs. We can provide meals from our food recovery pre-package program to any student in need at no cost. We are committed to serve every student and their needs and will work with any resident that reaches out to us.

Cancellations

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Can I cancel my contract for the spring semester?

Normal contract terms currently apply. More contract details, including terms for cancellation, are available on our contract page.

If all my classes are online, can I move to off-campus housing?

No, students that move to off-campus housing will still be responsible for their campus housing contract and payments.

If I cancel my Housing contract, do I get a refund of my Dining Plan?

For students who previously cancelled their Housing contract for this spring semester, Housing Dining Plan money will be credited to your student’s account. Any balance due on their student account will be deducted. Remaining funds refunded will take at least two weeks (minimum time) if by check.  If you set up for ACH for your account, you will receive refunds more quickly.  To check on the status of your refund, please reach out to our Cashier’s Office.