(The Center Square) – University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is the latest UW campus to exclusively require online classes and tell students to stay in their dorms.
La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow on Sunday issued what he calls a "shelter in place" order that suspends in-person classes and locks down dorms on campus.
“The reason we are sheltering in place is because the number of confirmed and anticipated positive cases have risen quickly and we do not anticipate the number of quarantine and isolation bed spaces we have will accommodate the number of cases,” Gow wrote in a letter to students. “Therefore, we need everyone to play their part within this community and reduce exposure points, as much as possible.”
Classes will be shifted online and the stay-at-home order will be in place until Sept. 28.
Gow is advising students not to leave during the two-week transition.
“Should you choose to return to your permanent home for this period of time, you may do so,” Gow wrote. “However, please be advised it is recommended that you observe the quarantine in place so that you do not expose others at home and limit travel during this time while away from campus.”
Gow is not saying how many students at UW-La Crosse have tested positive for the coronavirus. Testing on campus is ongoing.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says 1,754 people in La Crosse County have tested positive for the virus since March. Another 22,560 tested negative. There is no word on just how many of those people have fully recovered.
DHS also says college-aged people, between ages 20 and 29, are leading the state in new coronavirus positives.
According to DHS’s report on Friday, 22,791 college-aged people have tested positive for the coronavirus, many of them since mid-August.
There have been spikes in coronavirus positives at UW-Madison and UW-Eau Claire as well.
At UW-La Crosse, Gow said they are preparing to try to get ahead of any possible spikes. That means campus will largely be a ghost town for the rest of the month.
“During the shelter in place you should remain in your room/apartment, as much as possible with only your assigned roommate(s). No other guests are allowed in your room/apartment,” Gow wrote. “If you are COVID-Negative, you can leave your room to use the bathroom, retrieve meals or heat up meals. Students should only leave the building to retrieve meals, get prescriptions, groceries, go to work, or to do individual exercise.”
He said the school is working on how to let students do laundry and receive mail.
UW President Tommy Thomson said the temporary inconvenience for students is necessary to fight the coronavirus.
“Students must be vigilant to combat this virus. UW-La Crosse is engaged with local health officials to ensure the community's health is prioritized. We welcome their support and collaboration in these efforts,” Thomson said in a statement. “Our rapid antigen tests are successfully identifying pockets of infection at a few campuses, and we will continue to take immediate and aggressive steps where this is the case. At the same time, we are encouraged by results at other universities, and continue to aggressively monitor and respond to conditions with the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and communities foremost in mind.”