UWO suspends students for COVID-19 violations

Katie Pulvermacher, News Editor

From Sept. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022, seven UW Oshkosh students were suspended and 861 disciplinary actions were taken against students for disobeying COVID-19 rules set in place, according to the Dean of Students Office.

“For students to be sanctioned for Covid reasons, they would have had to not meet the expectations outlined in the Chancellor’s Orders,” according to the Dean of Students Office. “These violations could include: not properly wearing a mask where required, not meeting mandated testing requirements, or violating isolation/quarantine requirements.”

As of Feb. 8, between the three UWO campuses there are 28 active cases compared to the 57 cases from the first week of spring semester, according to the Titans Return website. A small spike at the start of the semester is normal as positive rates quickly go down.

“The good news is we have not seen a surge in the past week in the number of cases on campus,” UWO Police Chief Kurt Leibold said in an email sent to students and employees on Feb. 8. “We know this is in large part due to the high rate of vaccination among students, faculty and staff.”

During winter interim, sports were majorly affected by the Omicron variant. Five conference games were canceled including three women’s basketball games and two men’s basketball games. The women’s basketball game against UW-River Falls was made up as a non conference game on Jan. 29.

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) announced changes to the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in response to canceled games due to COVID-19 protocols.

“Both tournaments were originally scheduled to feature the top-six teams, but will now include all eight conference teams,” according to the WIAC.

After the first and second rounds, both tournaments will be “re-seeded.”

“A regular-season champion (or champions) will be crowned after the regular-season schedule only if it can be mathematically determined,” according to WIAC. “If it is unable to be mathematically determined, the winner of the conference tournament will also receive the regular-season title.”

One is not considered fully vaccinated if they received a vaccination five or six months ago and have not yet received a booster. Not being fully vaccinated means having to quarantine if exposed or in close contact.

Albee Hall continues to test and give vaccinations to those who want them.

“If you are thinking about traveling over spring break, you also may encounter locations or venues that require proof of full vaccination for entry,” Leibold said. “Being fully vaccinated also means less chance your plans will be disrupted due to contracting Covid.”

Walking around campus, mostly in Reeve Union and Blackhawk Commons, it is common to hear someone say “Please wear your mask correctly” or “You need to wear a mask” to a student not following rules.

Repercussions for violating COVID-19 rules depend on the extent of the policy violation and past conduct history of the individual.

“According to UWS Chapter 17.085, if a person is found responsible, the sanctions could range from a written reprimand to expulsion,” according to the Dean of Students Office.

If a student is suspended from one UW school, they are suspended from all UW system schools. According to UWS Chapter 17, a student may be suspended for up to 2 years, depending on the extent of the violation.

There is no set number of times for a student to face repercussions for violating the mask policy on campus.

Chancellor Andrew Leavitt put a Masking Order in place effective Jan. 1 through the end of spring break on March 20, “unless extended, terminated or otherwise modified based on changing conditions related to the COVID-19 Delta (or other) variants, including but not limited to changes in CDC guidance, state and local public health conditions, and campus safety.”

“Students are expected to always wear their mask properly where required,” according to the Dean of Students Office. “Instructors may vary in their enforcement – some may choose to warn a student, and some may choose not to give a warning. Once a Covid reporting form is submitted, the university will investigate the allegations.”

Reports of incorrect mask wearing are reported to the Dean of Students Office. The number of reports to the office varies from week to week. This number is not a clear indication of how many people are being reported, as reports can include one person or multiple people.

According to the Dean of Students Office, the vast majority of students are complying with COVID-19 rules and sanctions.

“The University has clearly identified the expectations regarding Covid,” according to the Dean of Students Office. “These requirements have been shared with the University many times and in many different formats.”