The chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Monday canceled all in-person social events and ordered undergraduate students to restrict their movements for the next two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order from Chancellor Rebecca Blank comes as the number of coronavirus cases among students has continued to rise. Among the restrictions, from now through Sept. 21, all student gyms and recreational facilities will be closed, dining halls will offer carry-out only and visitors will not be allowed in dorms.
Blank also warned that the campus might shut down if the situation gets worse.
“We’ve reached the point where we need to quickly flatten the curve of infection, or we will lose the opportunity to have campus open to students this semester, which we know many students truly want,” Blank said.
In-person classes have not been canceled and study spaces remain open. The restrictions also don't apply to graduate students, faculty or staff members.
“In particular, I am asking all undergraduates to avoid social gatherings,” Blanks said.
The number of cases among students at UW-Madison has grown daily for the last five days.
The university reported Monday that 148 UW-Madison students and one employee had tested positive for COVID-19. Among the students testing positive, 37 live in residence halls and 111 live off campus.
Blank said many of the positive cases have been linked to people neglecting to wear masks or practice social distancing. She also pointed to social media posts, which seem to show students disregarding the seriousness of the virus.
“Unfortunately, too many students have chosen to host or participate in social gatherings that seem to demonstrate a high disregard for the seriousness of this virus and the risk to our entire community,” Blank wrote.
UW-System President Tommy Thompson said in a statement that Blank was “taking prudent steps to mitigate outbreaks."
“We knew there would most likely be an increase in early cases and today’s decision, while inconvenient to students, is necessary,” Thompson said.
Statewide, Wisconsin health officials confirmed an additional 567 cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the state's total number of cases to 81,760.
There were no new deaths reported in Wisconsin. A total of 1,168 people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.