The UW Oshkosh Student Association (OSA) met virtually to discuss upcoming events, Thanksgiving travel recommendations for students, testing requirements upon returning and UW Oshkosh’s food pantry, The Cabinet.
An email sent by UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt echoed many of these topics. In his email, Leavitt asked students to avoid traveling at all, if circumstances permit.
“Traveling and getting together in small groups, particularly with people you have not been with in a while, are common ways COVID-19 is spreading through our communities,” Leavitt wrote.
COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in recent months, with the Fox Cities area having been marked by the New York Times as one of the fastest-growing COVID hotspots in the country earlier in October.
Despite students and people across the country looking forward to Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reunite with their families, the relentless intensity of the pandemic has complicated travel and ruined plans.
The clear concern is that students travelling will not only spread COVID to their families, potentially endangering their relatives, but also will increase a surge on campus as students return.
In October, Leavitt told The Advance-Titan that administrators knew there would be a spike in cases as students moved in during the fall.
“You can’t bring in this many people and not have [a surge in cases],” Leavitt said.
If students stay on campus, a significant resurgence of COVID on campus might be mitigated.
“Thanksgiving is a time of family, and nothing has disrupted ‘family’ more than COVID-19 in the last nine months,” Leavitt wrote in his email on Tuesday. “But the actions we take today will help preserve our families and help us move toward a time where we can be together again.”
For students who choose to remain on campus or in rental houses in Oshkosh, the university has arranged a to-go option for students in lieu of a traditional, at-home Thanksgiving meal.
According to Leavitt’s email, the meal will be available for pickup 1 to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, at Blackhawk Commons. It will include turkey, ham, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, salad, rolls and pies.
The meal is available for all UWO students regardless of whether or not they have a meal plan. Students are encouraged to RSVP for the Thanksgiving meal by filling out the form sent by University Dining via email sent on Nov. 13, or by one of the two links included in Leavitt’s email.
Leavitt’s email also clarified information on testing before and after Thanksgiving break. The university is asking all residence-hall students to take a test prior to leaving campus.
Upon return, the university is asking residence-hall students to schedule two tests, 48 hours apart, within the week of returning to campus, and for off-campus students to schedule one test the same week.
Leavitt’s email clarified students may attend in-person classes on Monday, Nov. 30. Previous communications had indicated students must test negative twice, 48 hours apart, before attending in-person classes.
In preparation for Thanksgiving break, UWO’s campus food pantry, The Cabinet will be providing Thanksgiving care packages to students in addition to their weekly allotment of foodstuffs. Students can pick these up any time prior to Thanksgiving break.
The Cabinet will operate during its normal hours of operation on Monday and Tuesday of the week of Nov. 22 before closing its doors for the Thanksgiving break.
Students can pick up food in person at The Cabinet in Reeve, or make online requests via the OSA website.