Dear Instructional Colleagues,
Following the all-campus message sent last Wednesday, I’m writing to re-highlight the university’s plans to phase out its current masking requirement and to share additional important guidance.
Phasing out Campus Masking Requirement
As stated in the all-campus message, the current campus order will be extended from March 1 through March 11. Effective March 12, the start of Spring Recess, masks will no longer be required in indoor settings on campus including classrooms and other instructional spaces.
Per federal order, masks will continue to be required for Madison Metro bus riders. Clinical and health care, childcare and food preparation settings may also continue to require masks.
As they have throughout the pandemic, campus leaders have made this decision in the context of guidance from and decisions made by public health experts, UW System and officials from Public Health of Madison and Dane County. Case counts continue to decline, and research strongly suggests that individuals who are vaccinated, boosted and wearing a high-quality mask have a high degree of protection.
Campus Town Hall & Additional Guidance
The pandemic has been a series of pivots, to which instructors have continuously and flexibly adapted. My own class met not long after the campus announcement, and I found myself thinking a lot about how my students and I will navigate this latest transition. I recognize that it will be stressful for some instructors and students. I’ll be joining a panel of campus experts for a virtual town hall this Thursday, February 24, from noon-1pm to share information about the university’s plans and to answer questions. The forum will be recorded, captioned and interpreted, and will be subsequently posted on covidresponse.wisc.edu.
As we all prepare for this next transition, I want to highlight some additional important guidance:
- Any employee or student may still choose to wear a mask on campus after March 11. This applies to all campus spaces including all instructional settings.
- We should all respect one another’s choices about mask wearing, as well as the privacy of one another’s personal health information.
- Instructors may recommend, but may not require, students to wear masks in instructional settings. Here’s some sample language to consider using if you’d like to recommend that students wear masks:
- “I’m choosing to wear a mask as another layer of protection against COVID-19 infection. And while I cannot require you to wear a mask, would you be willing to wear one while in this [classroom, lab, etc.], as well? Of course, this is your choice, and there will be no consequences if you choose not to, but I appreciate your consideration as it would make me feel more comfortable.”
- Instructors may not reward or penalize students for their decisions about mask wearing.
- Campus will continue to make masks available to the campus community free of charge.
- Courses are expected to continue to be taught in the modality listed in the official schedule of classes at the beginning of the term.
- Other spring 2022 instructional guidance (absences, course modality, etc.) remains unchanged. You can find that guidance summarized on our “Spring 2022 Instruction” webpage.
Visit covidresponse.wisc.edu for continued updates about the university’s response to COVID-19. FAQs will be updated by March 12 to align with new policy. If you have questions specific to instruction, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out directly to your school and college leadership.