MADISON, Wis. — In a matter of hours, the University of Wisconsin-Madison had to pivot amid Dane County's record-breaking number of COVID-19 cases in a single day.
Two residence halls, Witte and Sellery, are in quarantine and in-person classes are moving online for the next two weeks.
Freshman Jack Herrera, from Waukesha, is staying at Witte. Jack and his roommate rushed to the grocery store before it started.
"It was just so chaotic. There’s almost something like out of a movie, there [were] just lines going out of all the stores. Everyone running around panicking," said Jack.
"Everyone was rushing out of their dorms to go stock up on food so the lines in the market and Walgreens were packed," said Isabella Moussavi, who also stays at Witte.
The student unions and campus libraries are closed. Dining halls are limited to carry out only.
TMJ4 watched as students from Witte and Sellery residence halls lined up to get lunch.
"I’m going home, I’m not sitting in here in like a 16 x 12 room for two weeks," said Katie Henning while standing in line for lunch.
"I kind of want go home, there’s not much to do there. We’re just sitting the room and doing online school," said freshman Drew Grismore.
Students at Witte and Sellery will get onsite COVID-19 testing. According to a university email, if students living at these dorms choose to go home they should be tested before leaving campus and quarantine at home for two weeks.
The biggest frustration seemed to be how the university communicated the news to students, leaving them little time to prepare.
"It’s really stressful. They put this on us last minute. We had no idea what was going on until 8 o’clock last night," said Katie.
Isabella, who is from California, hopes the situation will not reach a point where students are forced off-campus.
"If I had to leave, I have to book a flight go through three airports and take two planes back," said Isabella, adding she would have to find off-campus housing if necessary.
For now, Jack is focused on school work. He thinks the university could have done a better job communicating the changes but ultimately thinks it is the right call.
"It’s not optimal. Obviously, things could be better but I’m still holding out hope that eventually things are gonna get better, and we can either this semester or next semester have somewhat of a normal college experience," said Jack.
Some students say they have noticed peers not following the school's guidelines with respect to social distancing and masks. With the university cracking down they hope more people will take the precautions seriously.