MILWAUKEE — About 160,000 students are going back to school in the University of Wisconsin System at the end of January. The President of the Board of Regents says there will be more in-person learning next semester as schools expand already robust COVID-19 testing. They may even offer vaccination clinics for the public.
The President of the UW System Board of Regents, Andrew S. Peterson, said he was pleased with the first semester performance at schools. Most ended the year with all virtual learning as the COVID surge swept Wisconsin in Fall.
Peterson knows students are anxious to get back in the classroom. “Our goal is to get more in-person classes on campus in the second semester than we had in the first,” Peterson said this week. “There's still going to be a blend of hybrid learning. That makes a lot of sense, but I think we're going to see much more in-person classes taking place. That's what students want.”
They’ll achieve that by ramping up testing. Peterson said students who live on campus will be tested twice a week. Off-campus students will be tested every other week.
Meanwhile, UW schools hope to continue offering free community COVID testing at all campuses. Officials are also talking with the State and Federal government about those locations serving as mass vaccination sites.
“I think our UW System Campuses, with our physical assets located in 13 different regions across the State, we can really provide that Wisconsin idea in action giving folks access to vaccines. Just as we've done with testing,” Peterson explained.
Despite challenges, the UW System remains on strong financial footing, according to Peterson, who sought to reassure struggling Wisconsin families that a UW education is still a great deal.
“There's no better value in higher education than the UW system. You can debate the value of the tuition freeze; when you contrast that with other institutions across the Midwest and across the country, we are an incredible value. We are an incredible in-person value. We are an incredible social value.”
Former Governor and former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, will continue to serve as Interim President of the UW System. A search for a long term replacement is expected to begin this summer.