Students at UW-Madison, Edgewood College and Madison College will return to school this fall under new limitations necessitated by the spread of COVID-19. Following are the details for each school’s plan for the fall semester.

2020 Edgewood College Students from left to right, Jahdai Guererro, Bamba Sillah, Alex OKelue (blue mask), and Justin Christiansen.


Chancellor Rebecca Blank told members of the Rotary Club of Madison in August that she’s confident the plan UW-Madison administrators have created to contain COVID-19 on campus this fall will work.  

“We have a testing regime that I’m very proud of and we worked hard to set this up and I think it is going to be a reasonably good testing regime,” said Blank.

Blank, who answered questions from Rotary Club members during a 20-minute virtual Q&A session on Aug. 10, said that under the plan students living in dormitories will be tested every two weeks. The plan also calls for surveillance testing  testing subsets of students and staffin other buildings across campus, to allow administrators to make inferences about the spread of virus, something Blank said is a given. 

The goal is not to stop the virus from appearing but to contain it once it does appear, Blank said.  

“We’re going to monitor infection levels. We’re hiring our own contact tracers, we are doing all of this testing at our own labs, and we have testing available to anyone on campus who for whatever reason wants to come in and be tested,” she said.

Blanks said administrators have set aside rooms in dormitories and conference facilities on campus  and reserved two hotels in Madison  to serve as isolation and quarantine spaces.

Blank announced the plan, dubbed “Smart Restart,” in June. Since then, college presidents across the country have backtracked on plans to return students and staff to campus and decided to switch to online instruction for the fall. But Blank is holding firm, despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths across the Sun Belt and the South. 

“I personally think it is far safer for students to be here and on campus with all of the reinforcements about safety and health protocols and testing that being in the basement at their parents’ and going out with their friend on weekends,” Blank said. 

Under the reopening plan, most students will leave campus just before Thanksgiving and spend the remainder of the semester at home, receiving online instruction.  

Blank said campus health officials have built a dashboard to track metrics that measure the spread of COVID-19 on campus. She admitted that if the dashboard flashes red she might have to cancel classes and send students home before Thanksgiving. 

“Is there a situation where we would have to close? Absolutely.”

Camille Miles is a 2020 freshman at UW-Madison.
Edgewood College 

Edgewood College President Dr. Andrew Manion had been in his post for only two weeks when the pandemic forced students off campus in March. 

“While I am new to Edgewood College, I am not new to higher education, and I know what everyone went through during the spring semester under the Safer-at-Home order that essentially shut down the state of Wisconsin,” Manion wrote on the college’s website on June 17, the date 

he announced the school’s plan for the fall semester. 

“One thing we learned is that we, as a community, really want to be together in-person rather than at home getting our education online,” wrote Manion. “So, that is what we’re going to do this fall.” 

 Under Edgewood College’s plant, the last day for in-person instruction will be Nov. 24, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. All final exams and final projects will be conducted remotely before Dec. 11. Unlike years past, there will be no fall break an no long weekend during the fall semester. 

Here are additional details of the plan: 

  • Students will be allowed to attend classes remotely 
  • Faculty may teach in-person or remotely 
  • Classes will be scheduled to facilitate social distancing 
  • Everyone is required to wear a mask indoors
  • Students will help clean shared workspaces with disinfectant wipes before using
  • Students are to avoid public places and reduce the number of contacts with people if they’ve been exposed or are exhibiting any symptoms
  • Students are to report any potential exposure or the presence of any symptoms to the college and follow medical instructions
  • Agree to be tested for COVID-19.

Madison College 

Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III, president of Madison College, discussed the school’s plans for the fall semester during his annual state of the college address on July 14. 

“Our plans are aligned and consistent with local orders and ordinances of the cities and counties we are located in, as well as the State of Wisconsin’s rules and regulations,” Daniels said. “While many of us want our campus return to be back to normal, it will look very different. New safety protocols have been implemented, and we need everyone in our community to commit 

Daniels said that while plans for the fall semester are being revised, he expects that about 70 percent of Madison College courses to be offered remotely. The only classes that will offer completely in-person instruction are those in the school’s targeted occupational programs. 

What about students who don’t have computers or internet access? Daniels said Madison College would loan laptop computers and Wi-Fi hotspot to students for free during the fall semester, just as it did during spring semester after in-person instruction was canceled due to COVID-19. 

Because some students don’t are used to remote learning, Daniels said the school’s faculty and librarians “are also available via chat, text, email and phone to assist with technology and remote learning needs.” 

Here are additional details about Madison College’s plan for the fall semester:

  • Mask required for those coming to campus 
  • Physical distancing required while on campus
  • Visits to campus allowed only for in-person instruction, scheduled appointments with student \services, to pick up books and class supplies 
  • Everyone coming to campus must every day, at least one hour but no more than three hours before they come to campus, complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire
  • Everyone coming to campus must be free of COVID-19 symptoms or have been cleared by his or her health care provider 
  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 may return to campus only if he or she has had no fever for three days (without using fever-reducing medication); other symptoms have lessened; and it’s been at least 10 days or more since symptoms began.