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COVID Policy

The OSG User School 2022 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison welcomes participants from around the United States plus Mali and Uganda. We are excited to resume the in-person School, but recognize the current COVID-19 situation and the added risks that in-person events bring. This page contains the COVID policies and plans for the School.

The core principle is that we are all in this together. If we are careful and find a way to balance safety with academic and social interests, then we will have a successful event together. So it is up to each and every one of us to consider carefully our actions and the consequences on everyone.

The information listed below applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated participants.

As a reminder, symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, congestion or runny nose, fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and/or loss of taste or smell. Additional information on COVID-19 symptoms can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website.

Before Traveling to the School

Points to consider the week leading up to the School:

  • Try to minimize social contacts the week prior to the School, to reduce the chance that you contract COVID.

  • Get a COVID test shortly before traveling. Ideally, do this the evening before or the morning of travel (or both, if you have extra tests). Rapid tests are best for this purpose, so that you have t​​he result before leaving home.

  • If you tested positive recently (past 2 weeks or so), you must get a negative test before coming to the School.

If you test positive before the School and are therefore not cleared to travel, please let us know immediately. Most likely, we will arrange for remote participation via Zoom and Slack and will assist in canceling travel plans. We understand that no one wants this to happen, but please do not put others at risk by traveling or attending while sick.

During Travel

When actually traveling, from taking public transportation or a ride from a friend to the airport, in airports and other public places, on airplanes, and on the way to the hotel, we strongly recommend that you wear a mask to protect yourself and others. We know that masks are not required in all or most of those places, and there may be social pressure against wearing a mask, but it is still one of the best ways to avoid sickness. Most forms of travel mean that you are sharing air with people whose COVID status and precautions you cannot know.

While in Madison

Masks will be required at the School itself when indoors or in other poorly ventilated areas indicated by OSG School staff.

When not in the School, consider wearing a mask when you are indoors and sharing airspace with others, regardless of local policy. People in Madison seem very tolerant of others wearing masks, so that should not be a problem.

Dining is especially tricky. If eating with others or in a crowded indoor space, there is greater risk because masks are often removed while eating and talking. We encourage everyone to consider outdoor dining options when reasonable:

  • For School meals, there are some outdoor tables and chairs at Union South (next to the School building).

  • For evening meals, Madison has many restaurants that offer some outdoor dining space, or consider take-out and enjoy the many lovely outdoor spaces that downtown Madison and the UW campus offer.

When outdoor dining is not possible (including School meals), spread out (> 2 meters) and try to avoid situations in which you are unmasked, facing others, and eating and talking.

About Masks

Use high-quality masks that fit you well, including N95, KN95, and other similar designations. Medical-grade masks are acceptable but simply not as good. We ask that participants bring their own masks, if possible, to ensure adequate supply and good fit. However, we do have a supply of KN95s available for people who cannot provide their own, but the kind we have may not fit you well.

Cloth or other thin masks are not effective and should be avoided.

If you have reasons for not being able to wear a high-quality mask during the School, please contact us as soon as possible and let’s see what we can figure out together.

If You Feel Sick or Should Quarantine While in Madison

If you feel unwell or experience possible symptoms of COVID-19, or if you learn of close contact with someone who has just tested positive for COVID, please quarantine yourself away from the School and its participants and staff, and get a COVID test as soon as practical. See the box above: Yes, that unexplained headache could be an early symptom.

Testing sites near the UW–Madison campus include:

  • CVS (2 South Bedford Street, Madison; 608-251-6047; PCR testing available; at-home test kits available for purchase)

  • Walgreens (311 East Campus Mall, Madison; 608-251-0042; PCR testing is not available; at-home test kits are available for purchase)

  • Additional PCR testing centers, including those with rapid turnaround times, can be found on the Public Health Madison & Dane County website

  • If you have any questions about where and when to get tested, contact a healthcare representative or School staff (by email or Slack)

When you can, (let School staff know)[mailto:[email protected]] why you are absent by email or Slack. Do not return to attending the School in-person until you feel better and have tested negative for COVID.

Remote Attendance

If you are in Madison and are sick or quarantined, or if you are not able to travel to Madison, we will support remote attendance to the best of our ability. We have learned a lot about remote events in the past 2 years! Some things we are planning:

  • Stream lectures live over Zoom (and provide Zoom recordings afterward)
  • Post all materials on this website
  • Have a dedicated “online” staff member monitoring Zoom (when active), Slack, and email
  • Being ready to organize consultations over Zoom

Thus, as long as you feel up to it, we will support you during the School.

If You Must Delay Your Departure from Madison

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Madison, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends isolating for a minimum of 5 days. OSG staff will assist you as best as possible with extending your lodging and rearranging travel plans, however, you will be financially responsible for all lodging, travel changes, food, and other expenses after your originally planned departure time. This is University policy and there is nothing we can do about it. Please review our recommendations and requirements above to make it more likely that you do not bring COVID with you or get it during travel and School activities!

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments about these policies, do not hesitate to reach out to us at or by DM on Slack.