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UW-Madison to lift quarantine of residence halls

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MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison is lifting the quarantine on two of its residence halls following the rapid spread of COVID-19 among students.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank made the announcement on a press call Wednesday. The quarantine had been scheduled to expire Wednesday.

The university warned that the possibility of future quarantines rested on students' abilities to adhere to public health guidance.

Students in Sellery and Witte Halls had been asked to quarantine to help limit the spread of the disease.

Blank advised students who are unable to follow public health guidelines should cancel their housing contracts with the university now and receive the prorated refund because any who do not adhere to safety protocols will face consequences.

The university has not seen transmission of the disease in classrooms or its laboratories, a fact of which Blank said she felt proud.

Blank said she did not think students were spreading the disease to the larger Madison and Dane County area. She said she would expect any evidence of further spread would be found first in infections among staff.

As of now, only a few staff members have contracted the disease, according to UW-Madison's online dashboard which tracks the disease's impact on students and staff.

The university is investigating 550 students 11 organizations for various violations. Twenty students are being considered for emergency suspension.

University leaders said that only one student, to the best of their knowledge, has been hospitalized due to COVID-19. That person has since been released.

Blank said that anyone who tests positive for the disease are told to isolate on campus rather than travel anywhere else to quarantine and recover from the virus.

Blank continued to defend the university's decision to continue in-person classes. She said that some courses require hands-on access to equipment and facilities only available on-campus.

This is a developing story.

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