Break Safety

How to stay safe over campus breaks.
In this Section

Given the high disease activity throughout Wisconsin, DHS advises college students to avoid any unnecessary travel. If possible, we urge students to remain in their current locations and follow DHS holiday guidance in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, as the end of the fall semester draws near and with winter holidays approaching, college students may find themselves needing to travel home from their college residences.

Navigating travel during the COVID-19 pandemic can be tricky, but there are precautions college students can take to keep themselves, their families, and communities safe and limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Evaluating the Risks of Visits, Celebrations or Activities

Lowest Risk:

  • Virtual activities and gatherings, or a small dinner with only people in the same household
  • Shopping online rather than in-person during crowded shopping times

Moderate Risk:

  • Smaller outdoor in-person (or indoor in which ventilation is increased through open windows, etc.) gatherings with people from different households
  • Overnight guests stay off-site or quarantine prior to or upon arrival, as well as test prior to and after the celebration
  • Masks are worn except when eating and social distancing is always practiced
  • Limited individuals are near areas where food is being prepared or handled
  • Single-use items (plates, utensils, and condiments) are used and/or one person serves
  • No self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, are offered
  • Touched surfaces and shared items are cleaned and disinfected afterwards

Highest Risk: 

  • Large in-person indoor gatherings with people from outside of a household where there is poor ventilation, and it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • No quarantine or testing precautions are followed
  • No masks or social distancing is implemented
  • No single-use items (such as utensils) are used
  • Food is prepared in close proximity by multiple people and served via self-serving
  • Shopping in crowded stores during peak sales times
  • Other crowded events or activities are attended

Recommended Individual Safety Practices

Two Weeks Prior To Travel:

  • Get a flu shot
  • Reduce your number of close contacts
  • Keep an eye on travel restrictions for the area you are visiting

Before Traveling:

  • If you are sick with COVID-19, or are a close contact, avoid travel until you complete quarantine or isolation at your college residence or other approved facility. 
  • If you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19, it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms or get a positive test result. Be sure to complete the full 14-day quarantine period, even if you do not have symptoms or if you test negative during this period. 
  • All students and employees should consider getting a free, rapid-result COVID-19 antigen test (and confirmatory PCR test if needed) prior to traveling. Residence halls students are mandated by the UW System to have one test prior to leaving campus that must take place between November 16-20. Off-campus students and employees may be tested in the West Gym. (Appointments are required.)
  • Note: A negative test is not an excuse to avoid safety precautions.

Day of Travel:

  • Consider taking essential personal and educational items along in the event you need to move into isolation or quarantine at your destination
  • Reduce the number of stops on the trip
  • Delay travel if sick or exposed
  • Travel safely by wearing a mask, social distancing, using hand sanitizer
  • Transport yourself, if possible
  • If in a car with others, wear a mask and sit in the back seat if someone else is driving
  • If weather conditions permit, open the windows

Arrival at New Location When Quarantine or Staying Off-site is Not Possible:

  • Stay physically distant from others
  • Avoid physical contact
  • Wear a mask and maintain a distance of at least 6 ft
  • Restrict movement within and outside the home
  • Open windows, if possible, to increase air circulation
  • Avoid sharing items or spaces and use single-use items when possible

After the Celebration, Visit, or Activity

If you participated in higher-risk situations or think that you may have been exposed:

  • Take extra precautions for self-quarantine for 14 days after the event to protect others
  • Employees and off-campus students should get tested for COVID-19 and can do so at our surge testing site. 
  • For residence hall students who plan to return to campus after the Fall (Thanksgiving) Break, the UW System has mandated enhanced testing protocols:
    • Two tests within the week after you return, between November 29-December 4
    • Weekly testing through December 22

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