UW-Milwaukee announced on Thursday it would be requiring masks indoors and weekly tests for the unvaccinated this semester. (UW-Milwaukee | Instagram)
Hours after state Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) introduced a proposed rule to prevent Wisconsin’s public universities from instituting measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, UW-Milwaukee officials announced they are instituting those measures anyway on the second largest campus in the state.
In an email, university officials announced that everyone will be required to wear masks while indoors on campus starting Aug. 4. Additionally, unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will be required to take a COVID-19 test weekly.
“These changes are meant to help protect the health and safety of UWM students and employees and follow guidance from local, state and national health agencies,” the email states.
The university is encouraging students and employees to get vaccinated and is holding vaccine clinics on campus, but is not mandating the shot.
On Thursday, Nass announced that the Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) would be voting remotely next Tuesday on a rule that would require university officials to get legislative approval before mandating vaccines, masks or testing. If passed, the rule would mean the Republican-held committee would have control over the public health measures used to protect the state’s thousands of public university students and the communities in which they live.
Nass proposed the rule as the contagious delta variant of the virus spreads rapidly through Wisconsin and university systems across the country are moving to require vaccination.
So far, UW-Milwaukee is the only school in the UW System to institute mask and testing requirements after Nass announced his proposed rule. UW System interim President Tommy Thompson said in a statement after Nass’ announcement that the rule threatened the return of full in-person classes in the fall.
A spokesperson for UWM said she couldn’t comment on the legal issues of the mask and testing requirements and Nass’ proposed rule.
Classes at UWM are set to begin on campus on Sept. 2.
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