Dear Chancellor Leavitt,
I apologize. I was wrong. In an editorial earlier this semester, I predicted gloom and doom. I predicted that we would once again be sent home and forced to continue classes entirely online.
It was quite the sensational article. I accused you of lying, and disregarding our health and safety for financial gain. Moving students back to campus was a longshot gamble, one in which you and I had placed starkly different bets.
Now that the semester is coming to an end, and we’re still here, I feel that it’s time to make amends and point out what went right.
This entire semester, administrators have worked tirelessly to keep students on campus. All of the email updates, policy tweaks and community testing paid off, as UW Oshkosh’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate had held steady around 4% after performing roughly 2,250 tests per week.
As a result, out of a student body of roughly 10,000 students, there were only 51 active coronavirus cases from on-campus testing as of publication deadline. For comparison, the university’s positivity rate of tests on campus was about 17% in late September, with roughly 450 active cases, according to UWO’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Administrators largely attribute the spike in September to moving thousands of students back to campus. After that immediate spike, the university and students increased their vigilance, preventing further spikes.
For example, there was not a significant spike in COVID-19 cases following Thanksgiving break.
In fact, on-campus testing at Albee Hall has seen a positive test rate of only 1.4% since Nov. 29, which is significantly lower than the semester’s overall positive test rate of 4%.
Administration contained the spread of COVID-19 on campus, without having to move classes online and quarantine thousands of students in residence halls like UW-Madison, the flagship UW institution.
As administration scrambled to contain COVID-19 and get that initial outbreak under control, so too were educators, who worked tirelessly, many delivering in-person and virtual classes simultaneously.
Those efforts have ensured that, for the most part, we’ve been able to receive a quality education this semester. It isn’t what it was before, but it couldn’t possibly be the same given the current situation.
At the end of the day, administrators, students, faculty and staff should all be proud of their efforts this semester. We defied the odds and made it work. Congratulations.