University of Wisconsin: As residence halls prepare to welcome back students, survey finds more than 92% plan to be vaccinated

As UW–Madison prepares to welcome students in late August, a survey of incoming residence hall students finds 92.5 percent of respondents say they plan to be fully vaccinated by the start of classes. Another 3.2 percent say they plan to get vaccinated after they arrive on campus. The survey, conducted by the Division of University Housing in late June, had an impressive response rate of 89 percent of incoming residents and provides an encouraging picture for the upcoming school year.

“We’re pleased to see so many students choosing vaccination, which is the most effective way to prevent COVID-19,” says Jeff Novak, director of University Housing. “Having a highly vaccinated community helps protect everyone, including those who cannot be vaccinated.”

The university is planning for a full return to in-person operations while continuing to monitor COVID-19 trends. UW–Madison is strongly encouraging, but not requiring, vaccination for students. In residence halls, students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to test at move-in and weekly throughout the academic year. The university will continue to offer no-cost vaccination on campus.

Residence hall assignments were released today for most students, with information about where they will be living, their roommates, and the move-in schedule. Campus is seeing strong demand for residence halls this year, due to a robust freshman class and high interest from returning students. University Housing plans to have about 8,500 students living in the residence halls this fall, up from about 8,000 students in fall 2019 prior to COVID. While UW–Madison does not require any students to live on campus, more than 90 percent of first-year students choose to live in the residence halls each year.

To build capacity and accommodate more of the students who want to live on campus, University Housing has taken several steps:

The Lowell Center, formerly a campus hotel, will house 260 undergraduate students as part of the residence halls.
Apartments in the Eagle Heights community, a part of University Housing typically devoted to graduate students, are also being offered to new transfer students.
Historically, larger residence hall spaces have been converted into triples and quads. More rooms of this size will be utilized this year.
Together, these changes have added more than 680 beds for undergraduate students. In addition, on June 1, the university communicated with all students and families about overwhelming interest in residence halls and the space challenges it may bring and offered an opportunity for students to be released from their housing contract with no financial penalty.

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