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The COVID-19 pandemic struck UW–Madison fast in early 2020. Wisconsin’s first case was identified on January 30 — a person who had traveled to China showed up at UW Hospital with respiratory symptoms, and six days later, tests confirmed COVID. Over the next six weeks, as the disease spread rapidly around the country, the UW increased precautions. On March 11, Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced that in-person instruction would end after spring break, and all classes would be online. March 12 was the last class day before break; March 23 was the first day that the UW was 100 percent virtual. In-person instruction didn’t begin again until fall 2020. When vaccines became widely available in mid-2021, the UW encouraged all students to get the jab. Now, more than 95 percent of them are fully vaccinated. As of today (March 18, 2022), there are still signs of the pandemic. Students can get free at-home antigen tests, and if they test positive, they’re required to stay home. But campus is about to drop some of its last COVID restrictions. Dane County lifted its mask mandate on March 1; campus kept its mask rule in place until March 12 — again, the last day before spring break. When students return on Monday, March 21, they can attend class mask-free.

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