‘Shelter in Place’ expanded to include all UW-La Crosse residence halls

UW-La Crosse offers extended housing for large freshman class

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- The University of Wisconsin La Crosse is expanding its ‘shelter in place’ to include all residence halls on campus because of the rapidly growing number of COVID-19 cases.

It takes effect at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 and runs until Sunday, Sept. 27 at 5:00 p.m.

In an email to students and staff, Chancellor Joe Gow says it’s due to “the high number of positive test results among resident students in a variety of residence halls, and due to our isolation spaces approaching the point of being filled.”

Last Thursday, Coate Hall was put under ‘shelter in place’ restrictions after dozens of students had tested positive for COVID-19.

The university’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that as of Saturday, Sept. 12, there were 224 positive cases on campus. Saturday’s percent positive was 78.57%.

According to the email, national experts suggest that students should not travel home during the two week ‘shelter in place’ period.

It goes on to say the university may not have enough isolation space available and residents remaining in the halls must weigh their own risks. “Residence Life will continue to honor requests for housing contract cancellations.”

Effective immediately, the university is also now requiring face coverings on all campus property, whether indoors or outdoors.

All in-person undergraduate classes are being suspended on Monday, Sept. 14th and Tuesday, Sept. 15th and will resume remotely on Wednesday. They hope to resume in-person classes on Monday, Sept. 28.

“UWL’s contact tracing has not revealed any evidence of transmission from in-person instruction; however, this decision comes out of an abundance of caution for our students and employees,” the email continued.

In addition, the following changes will be made to campus operations:

  • Nearly all student-facing resources will be virtual with a presumed in-person resumption on Monday, September 28th.
  • All in-person study spaces, including those at Murphy Library, the Union and academic buildings will be closed.
  • Dining services will shift to carry-out meals only.
  • The REC will convert to virtual/remote programming.
  • Student Health Center will only be open for urgent care needs and by appointment only. Telehealth and telemedicine appointments are available.
  • In-person gatherings must be cancelled or be converted to virtual settings. Whenever possible, work meetings should continue to be conducted virtually.
  • On-site essential operations will continue as defined by your Vice Chancellor. Generally, employees who are able to work remotely should do so. Starting today at 5 p.m. employees will be limited to card access to their assigned building. Supervisors should be flexible with employees who have returned to work on campus in non-essential functions.
  • Campus Child Center will remain open at this time

University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson issued this statement:

“Today’s mitigation steps announced by UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow will combat the COVID-19 case increases we have identified on its campus. Moving to online course delivery for a two-week period while sheltering in place can be an effective tactic, as we have seen with other universities. 

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.

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.”