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Tommy Thompson: 75 Percent Of UW’s Fall Classes Will Be In-Person

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Says Up To 95 Percent Of Classes Will Be Face To Face

Bascom Hall is pictured in an aerial view of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus
Bascom Hall is pictured in an aerial view of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus during an autumn sunset on Oct. 5, 2011. Major campus facilities pictured clockwise from left include Van Vleck Hall, Medical Sciences Center and Van Hise Hall. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking west. Jeff Miller/UW-Madison

At least three-fourths of all University of Wisconsin System classes will be in-person this fall according to system interim President Tommy Thompson.

During a virtual press conference Thursday, Thompson praised UW campuses for expanded COVID-19 testing operations and a positivity rate, he said was below 1 percent. Thompson said campuses have learned a lot about how to offer online classes over the course of the pandemic, but it’s time to expand in-person offerings.

I want to make sure that we have a minimum of 75 percent of the students in person, in class, on our campuses,” said Thompson. I talked to the chancellors yesterday … And they all, and I want to stress this, all the chancellors were very supportive of that and said, ‘Yes, we could do that.’”

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In a follow-up email, UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch clarified that the 75 percent in-person classes target includes what are known as hybrid courses that feature both online and in-person components.

In an op-ed published in the Wisconsin State Journal, Thompson also said the “in-person experience” this fall will also mean fans attending sporting events and live performances.

UW System data from the 2020 fall semester indicates that 50 percent of classes were online and 26 percent of classes were face to face. UW-Madison had the highest percentage of online courses with 66 percent, while UW-Whitewater had the lowest percentage of online-only classes in the system.

In an email to students, UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow said “there is a light at the end of the tunnel” with regard to COVID-19. He said administrators are planning for a “much more traditional fall semester” that could include up to 95 percent of in-person classes and a return to live music and theater on campus.

Matthew Mitnick is the chair of the Associated Students of Madison government group, which has joined a chorus of campus groups that pushed back against Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s administration for bringing students back to campus last fall. Mitnick says bringing even more students to campus will only increase risk.

“It causes great concern and in fact it’s just absolutely insensitive, not only students and faculty and staff, but to workers on campus who already have been treated like absolute crap by this administration,” said Mitnick.