COVID-19 update: Contingency planning underway, expect more information tomorrow

Dear Marquette community:

Marquette University continues to monitor the recent outbreak of respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) in close coordination with the Milwaukee Health Department and the Marquette University Medical Clinic (MUMC). In alignment with our Catholic, Jesuit mission, all actions being taken are for the health, safety and well-being of the campus community in the context of our responsibility to deliver a high-quality educational experience to our students.

We are aware that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has extended its spring break by a week and is considering moving classes online as one of the university’s employees is being tested for COVID-19, and that the University of Wisconsin has moved all of its classes online through the end of the semester.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Milwaukee, and there are no special protective actions or orders currently in place for the Milwaukee area. With counsel from public health experts and campus leaders, and in consultation with the Board of Trustees, the university is currently discussing potential changes the university will make prior to students returning from spring break — we anticipate sharing more information tomorrow.

This is a complex and challenging situation requiring thoughtful analysis and careful deliberation. We must be responsive but not rash in our decision making, especially when it affects an educational experience that demands great sacrifices from many of our students and their families.

Contingency planning and decision-making
A cross-disciplinary team led by Keli Wollmer, executive director of the Marquette University Medical Clinic, has been established and is meeting daily to evaluate changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to establish protocols and contingency plans related to the virus. This group is making recommendations to the Executive Leadership Team based on CDC and Milwaukee Health Department guidance.

There are five sub-committees dedicated to the following dimensions of our campus response: medical, academic, employees, student life/residence life and external contacts. These groups are developing plans and protocols for varying degrees of campus impact from the virus, including everything from continuity of instruction through distance learning mechanisms to developing guidance on the size of in-person events to protocols for employees working offsite.  As these plans are developed and approved by the Executive Leadership Team, they will be shared via campus email, Marquette Today, supervisors and Marquette’s Coronavirus website.

I know faculty members have been asking about the need to prepare for a potential switch to distance learning for classes. Dr. John Su, vice provost for academic affairs, is leading the academic sub-committee and is working on a tiered plan for continuity of instruction through online methods including D2L, Microsoft Teams and email. His team is contacting department chairs to discuss the feasibility of these methods for the depth and breadth of classes we offer our students.

What Marquette is Doing to Limit the Spread of COVID-19
In addition to the actions described above, we are taking proactive steps to help limit the spread of the virus and keep campus fully operational, including:

  • The Division of Student Affairs and Facilities Planning and Management have implemented new cleaning procedures and are utilizing stronger anti-viral cleaning agents in all residence halls, common areas and restrooms in university-owned apartments, academic buildings and office buildings on campus. All residence hall and university-owned apartment building common areas and surfaces are being deep cleaned over Spring Break.
  • Signs are being posted at all building and office front desks to direct visitors that if they have visited or traveled through a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice area, they should self-quarantine at home for 14 days before returning to campus or attending campus events.
  • Posters are being placed in every restroom and break room on campus reminding the Marquette community about tips to stop the spread of viruses, including proper hygiene practices and staying home/out of class if you are sick.
  • Marquette has suspended all university-sponsored travel for faculty, staff and students to countries that the CDC identifies as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice. That currently includes China, Iran, Italy and South Korea and is subject to change.
  • Ministers at the Church of the Gesu and Chapel of the Holy Family are forgoing the giving of communion with the cup at Mass — everyone will be asked to receive communion in the hand; ministers will not give communion on the tongue. For the Sign of Peace, people are encouraged to nod or wave in acknowledgement. All ministers are asked to use hand sanitizer before distributing communion. Hand sanitizer will be provided at the entrances for the assembly.

New travel restrictions
Effective today, Marquette is restricting all new, non-essential university-sponsored travel (domestic and international) until further notice. Trips currently taking place are not being recalled. This difficult decision was made in consultation with our campus’ infectious disease experts in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Faculty and staff should work with their supervisors to determine which travel is essential.

As a reminder, the Milwaukee Health Department is recommending that any faculty, staff or students returning from or passing through a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice area in the past 14 days should self-quarantine at home for 14 days before returning to campus or attending campus events.

Visitors to Marquette who have visited a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice area are being requested to self-quarantine per CDC and Milwaukee Health Department guidance and refrain from coming to campus.

Additionally, individuals who have traveled to areas with a significant number of reported cases, or who are returning from cruise ships where there were no reported cases, are asked to self-monitor for symptoms and to practice social distancing, which the CDC defines as remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.  This includes avoiding close personal contact such as handshakes, hugs, etc.

Prevention reminders
To prevent the spread of illness and viruses, members of the Marquette community are reminded to:

  1. Wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds
  2. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  3. Properly dispose of used tissue
  4. Avoid touching your face
  5. Avoid shaking hands and hugging
  6. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your workstation or office and in your place of residence
  7. Avoid close contact with ill individuals
  8. Stay home from work and do not attend class if you are ill

Additional Resources and FAQs
Information and CDC guidance is changing rapidly. In addition to being shared via Marquette Today, all university updates related to COVID-19 are posted on, which is also accessible via the homepage. All members of our campus community are encouraged to visit this site regularly for FAQs, information on the best ways to protect your health and updates.

Thank you for your care and concern for each other and our Marquette community as we navigate these uncharted waters together.


Dr. Kimo Ah Yun
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Marquette University