Updated COVID-19 policies for spring

Lexi Wojcik-Kretchmer, Staff Writer

With the spring 2021 semester officially underway, it’s important to be aware of the changing policies regarding COVID-19.

Students who live in the residence halls do not see much change in policies within the dorms themselves.

Residents must continue to social distance and wear masks at all times unless they are eating, drinking, showering, brushing their teeth or if their dorm room door is closed.

The only guests allowed in residence halls are UWO or FVT students. Additionally, the number of guests allowed in each room is limited: 2-person rooms may have two guests at a time, 3-person rooms may have three guests at a time and 4-person rooms may have four guests at a time.

Robert Babcock, the Director of Residence Life, also stressed that “Guests must follow all policies and their host may face conduct sanctions if they do not. Additionally, guests not following policies may be asked to leave the building.”

“We are looking forward to a great semester,” Babcock wrote in an email to all residence hall students. “Thank you so much for all you did to make fall successful despite the challenges. Let’s make the spring successful together!”

In an article written by police chief Kurt Leibold on December 7, 2020 in preparing students for the new semester, he wrote that quarantine would be shortened for those who were in contact with someone who tests positive so that they can return to their dorm quicker.

Testing will remain the same in Albee Hall from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, providing both the rapid antigen and PCR test. Testing will also be available in the Culver Family Welcome Center for the Oshkosh community from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In an update on Jan. 21, Leibold wrote that residence hall students must be tested weekly and off-campus students who will be on campus as well as staff and faculty should be tested every other week. Those who have gotten either dose of either vaccine need to fill out a form and will then be exempt from testing.

As for the vaccine, students and staff will be updated as soon as the university is.

Dining is definitely something that COVID-19 has affected greatly.
“Due to COVID, we had to make some changes in dining regarding how many people can sit in dining areas — tables were moved apart and only one person could sit at a table unless they were six feet from someone else,” Jean Kwaterski, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus, said.

In Blackhawk Commons, all food was served by employees to students to limit the amount of people who came in contact with the utensils. Tables are also cleaned after each use.

One difference from last semester in Blackhawk Commons is the different stations.

“Last fall, students could only go through one of two identical lines at Blackhawk,” Kwaterski said. “This semester, we are opening all the various stations in Blackhawk to provide more food variety for students. We still need students to maintain physical distancing between each other when getting their food.”

As for Reeve Union Marketplace, people are allowed to sit and eat there again, another difference from last semester.

“We have moved the tables apart and marked them with how many people can sit at a table,” Kwaterski said. “Masks must be worn if the person is not actively eating or drinking, for example, if they are using the table to study, they should wear their mask.”

For classes, UWO plans on having 1,300 classes in person, which is more than half, and of course there are still online and mixed classes this semester.

“The mix of classes allows us to meet the changing needs of a diverse student body, and we encourage students to tailor their schedules to best meet their needs,” Leibold said.

The size of classrooms or the size of classes makes it feasible for this to happen, events may not be as easy.

“Due to COVID restrictions, events on campus can only have 50 people in attendance at a maximum,” Kwaterski said. “After making sure there is physical distancing, many rooms in Reeve Union could only accommodate less than 50 people. Therefore, many events were either cancelled or moved to a virtual format.”

Kwaterski said Reeve Union plans on hosting more events in person during the spring. One of these events is Taste of UW Oshkosh, which will be held on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., as well as 4 p.m. -6 p.m.

“We limited the number of student organizations who can reserve a table and only one person from that student organization can be at the table,” Kwaterski said. “We will then allow a limited number of students to go into the room at a time to learn more about these student organizations”

Also planning to be in person this semester is the Reeve movie series, craft nights, gaming nights and more.

If someone doesn’t want to or can’t participate in these in person events, Kwaterski says that “they can still learn about student organizations virtually through Titan Connection or by downloading the Titan Connection app. When students look on Titan Connection to find out about upcoming events, it will say if the event is in-person or virtual.”

Despite the retraction of the mask mandate in Wisconsin, the number one policy of the university is to wear a mask.

“A cloth, two-layer face mask continues to be the safest, most effective mask,” Leibold said.