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March 12 COVID-19 Update

The following message was sent March 12 to all UW-Eau Claire and UW-Eau Claire – Barron County students, faculty and staff:

Thank you for staying up to date on what is a rapidly changing health situation regarding COVID-19. Even as we receive new or additional information from the CDC and our local health experts, our principles remain the same: to assure that all our faculty, students and staff are safe and that we continue to provide the exceptional education for which we are known.

I know that the uncertainty is causing anxiety and I want to assure you that our university is working closely with our community health experts in Eau Claire, Barron and Wood counties to make informed decisions to protect the health of everyone on our campuses. Despite the fact that our region continues to be at low risk, we are taking preemptive steps so faculty, staff and students have time to plan for what continues to be an evolving situation.

Today, in consultation with shared governance, I am announcing the following changes:

Academic Classes and Spring Break

  • There will be no campus-based, in-person classes at all three locations next week. In addition, spring break will be extended a second week, from March 23 through April 3. This means there will be no face-to-face classes from Saturday, March 14 through Friday, April 3. All existing online classes will be held as scheduled during this period. The three-week extended spring break will allow our faculty to transition their spring semester courses to be delivered online.
  • Classes will resume April 6 and will be offered entirely online through Friday, April 17. During that time, we will monitor the progress of COVID-19 and determine whether in-person classes can resume Monday, April 20, or whether they will continue to be offered online. We will make that determination no later than April 15. The deans of our colleges are working now to determine how to address internships, clinicals, practica and student teaching, which are expected to continue throughout the semester.

Campus Services and Student Employment

  • Through April 20 all campus locations will remain open. Students may choose to remain in the residence halls or in the community; food service, Blugold Central, Advising, Retention and Career Services, and all essential student support services will continue to be available through the extended spring break and April 20. Students who do not have ready access to laptops or WiFi connections may choose to be on campus for their online classes.
  • Faculty and staff members will continue to report to work on campus. The State of Wisconsin and UW System will provide guidelines regarding when and who can elect to work from home. We will share those when they are available. For now, all faculty and staff should continue to be on campus as needed.
  • Student employees will continue to have on-campus jobs, if they choose to return to campus. In fact, we will need students more than ever! Students should connect with their supervisors to clarify their positions.

Travel and Large-group Meetings

  • All university-sponsored travel is prohibited as of end of day Friday, March 13. This includes spring study abroad and immersion trips. As of today, we are also recalling all students studying abroad in the European Union, based on President Trump’s recent announcement. Travel exceptions may be made by the deans or vice chancellors only.
  • University-sponsored large-group meetings will be canceled, effective immediately. No group of more than 25 individuals will convene in person until further notice; this includes student organizations and university committees. Again, exceptions may be made by the deans or vice chancellors only. LTS is working to provide streaming and alternative communication opportunities.

I know this is a lot of information to digest at once. Our goal is to assure that all our students, faculty and staff remain safe and healthy and also to continue to provide the high-quality education that defines UW-Eau Claire. I want to let all our students know that they WILL be able to complete their semester. Seniors intending to graduate in May will be able to complete their coursework so they can graduate on time.

Regular updates will be posted on our website and I will send important email updates as things change. I also want to thank the members of the Emergency Response Team for all their efforts. Together we will address what is truly a unique challenge, as only Blugolds can do.

Details and updates are available on our COVID-19 webpage.