The University of Wisconsin-Madison plans to continue its hybrid learning model next semester with a drastically increased COVID-19 testing capacity, expecting more than 50,000 tests available weekly.
The university has been administering about 9,000 to 10,000 tests weekly with a testing capacity of about 12,000 through partnerships with the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and Exact Sciences. Next semester, a partnership with Shield T3 — a subsidiary of the University of Illinois System — will expand testing capacity by 10,000 tests daily, according to a news release Thursday.
“To date, our campus safety protocols have helped ensure COVID-19 has not spread in spaces like classrooms and laboratories,” Provost Karl Scholz said in the release. “With increased testing and the ability to ensure our employees and students are getting tested regularly, we feel confident about our path forward for the spring semester.”
UW-Madison will require all students who live on campus, attend classes or utilize campus spaces and employees who work on campus to be tested twice weekly, according to a press release Oct. 21. Currently, only students in residence halls and housing and dining workers are tested once weekly.
The university has not yet announced how it will monitor people who must be tested. At a University Committee meeting, Chancellor Blank said Monday that there is still “a lot of work to do” to achieve this increase.
“How do we enforce it so anybody walking into the building has been tested?” Blank said. “There are a variety of ways to do that, and there are pros and cons to all of them.”
All UW System schools are also setting up free, federally-funded rapid testing sites.
The pandemic has cost the university about $50 million for this 2020-2021 academic year, university spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said in an email. Fall courses were 30% in-person or hybrid, and spring schedules will be completed in early December.