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Growing Number Of UW Campuses Move Classes Online After Thanksgiving

Halting In-Person Classes After Holiday Travel Aimed At Preventing Further Spread Of COVID-19 As Some Hospitals Near Capacity

five students play a drinking game in a yard while wearing badgers gear
UW-Madison students play a game in the front lawn of a house on Lathrop Street on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, before the Badgers’ first football game of the season. Angela Major/WPR

A growing number of University of Wisconsin System campuses are moving classes online after the Thanksgiving break to prevent further spread of COVID-19, as hospitals around the state near capacity for new patients.

Here’ a campus-by-campus breakdown of what post-Thanksgiving plans look like:


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On Oct. 12, UW-Madison’s University Health Services said students should “strongly consider whether they need to be in Madison” after the Thanksgiving break.

“For those who choose to travel, we ask that you do not return until spring semester. For those who need to stay in Madison until the end of the fall term, we ask that you do not travel for the Thanksgiving recess,” said the statement.

UHS said if students do decide to travel for the holidays, they should do everything they can to keep themselves and loved ones safe.

UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls and UW-Stout

In a joint statement issued Thursday, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-River Falls announced they would move classes online after Thanksgiving in response to reports that all hospital beds at Mayo Clinic Health System facilities in northwestern Wisconsin were full.

As late as Tuesday, UW-Eau Claire had planned to resume in-person classes after the holiday, but chancellor Jim Schmidt told WPR those plans changed with the announcement from Mayo and other regional healthcare providers.

“On Wednesday, I woke up to see the news that both Mayo Clinic and, later in the afternoon, Marshfield Clinic hospitals in Eau Claire were at 100 percent capacity. And we’d heard similar things from Sacred Heart, with all the providers in the region facing serious challenges as they combat the pandemic,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said dormitories, student dining and other campus services would remain open and operational despite classes moving online.

UW-La Crosse

On Friday, UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow sent an email to students and employees announcing that all classes will move online after Thanksgiving.

“We feel our campus is among the safest places in La Crosse — as evidenced by our daily COVID-19 test results — but in light of alarming numbers of positive cases in the greater La Crosse community, we want to give our students the ability to choose where they will reside as they complete their fall semester courses through online (and) other remote modes,” said Gow in the email.

Gow said campus dormitories, along with dining facilities and all other buildings, would remain open for the rest of the semester. He also encouraged students to “self-quarantine” and said students choosing to leave for the holiday would be tested before embarking and after returning to campus.


In an email sent Friday, UW-Milwaukee announced it would shift “mostly online” after the Thanksgiving break with students in specialized courses retaining some in-person meetings.

“While UWM campuses have been relatively safe, the move comes as Wisconsin and the country have faced rapidly rising cases of COVID-19,” said the email. “The state has set records of new cases several times over the past week, and caseloads are threatening to overwhelm Wisconsin’s health care system. Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order urging people to stay home, avoid gatherings and limit travel.”


Classes at UW-Superior will move online after the Thanksgiving holiday. The switch was developed during the summer, according to a campus spokesperson.


In an email to employees, UW-Parkside administrators announced that all classes would move online after Thanksgiving. The email also said that the deadline for students to drop classes during the fall semester is being extended to Dec. 4.


Classes at UW-Platteville will move online after Thanksgiving. A campus spokesperson said administrators planned the switch during the summer.


In a letter to campus sent Thursday, UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andy Leavitt announced that in-person classes would continue after Thanksgiving, but students who intend to travel for the holiday would have to be tested for COVID-19 before they leave and twice when they return.

UW-Stevens Point

Classes will go online at UW-Stevens Point campuses after Thanksgiving. That decision was made this summer.

UW-Green Bay

In-person classes will continue at UW-Green Bay’s campuses after the Thanksgiving holiday. A spokesperson told WPR students living in residence halls who decide to travel will follow a “rigorous testing protocol before they leave and when they return.”


Chancellor Dwight Watson told students in a statement Nov. 13 they are expected to be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for any holiday travel. He said those living in dormitories will be tested twice when they return.