Wisconsin colleges and universities had to adjust their COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 school year following the reclassification to a “very high” transmission status due to the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19.
The Delta variant is about twice as contagious as the original COVID-19 virus and much more transmissible, even in vaccinated individuals. This variant is currently the predominant variant of the virus in the U.S.
Marquette’s COVID-19 protocols include uploading proof of vaccination for all students taking classes in person, as well as a mask mandate for all students, faculty and staff in indoor public spaces.
Faculty and staff are “strongly encouraged” to get vaccinated, but are not required to do so at this time. Any unvaccinated individual, student, faculty or staff must complete the daily COVID Cheq screening process and participate in mandatory COVID-19 testing every other week.
As of Aug. 31, 92% of Marquette students and 84% of faculty and staff have uploaded proof of vaccination.
Similar to Marquette, Alverno College requires all in-person students be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, unlike Marquette, faculty and staff are also required to be vaccinated.
Alverno also has a mask mandate for anyone in a public indoor setting on campus in alignment with the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s guidance.
According to the City of Milwaukee Health Department, “Per CDC guidance, due to the transmissible nature of the Delta variant, masks are strongly encouraged for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, in public, indoor settings.”
Though Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate ended March 31, more than 15 Wisconsin colleges are still requiring masks on campus including Alverno College, Marquette University and all University of Wisconsin campuses.
Recently, more colleges across the country have been implementing COVID-19 vaccination mandates following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine Aug. 23.
“While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated,” Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner, said.
The University of Wisconsin system does not have a vaccination requirement for students, faculty or staff, but they are strongly encouraged. However, those who are not vaccinated are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
The Wisconsin state legislature voted Aug 3. 6-4 in favor of requiring all University of Wisconsin schools to receive permission before issuing new COVID-19 guidance, including masking, testing or vaccination requirements.
This decision came after the new COVID-19 masking guidance was released from the CDC.
The motion requires all “policies regarding COVID-19, implementation of policies regarding COVID-19 and promulgation of campus and system-wide COVID-19 policies as emergency rules” to be reviewed by the Wisconsin state legislature before they go into effect, according to the Executive Session.
“The path forward in addressing COVID-19 is not through excessive government mandates, but in the restoration of Americans being able to make voluntary informed decisions based on their individual health circumstances,” Steve Nass, Wisconsin state senator, said.
As of Sept. 1, the 7-day COVID-19 average in Wisconsin is around 2,000 new cases a day and about 20% of those cases are from Milwaukee County. Wisconsin is currently ranked 21st in the U.S. for state vaccinations with 51.6% of the population fully vaccinated.
This story was written by Bailey Striepling. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.