By Jade Henschel, Allyson Haefke, Alison Denecke, & Mackenzie Morey
For most college students, COVID-19 had a major impact on their education and lives.
Schools across the state and the country went from being in-person to online. The University of Wisconsin – Green Bay was one of those schools.
Below is a brief timeline of important dates related to COVID-19 and the UWGB campus, as one year passes from when COVID-19 began impacting UWGB students, faculty, and staff.
COVID-19 and UWGB: A Brief Timeline
⃝ March 10, 2020
UWGB Provost (now Chancellor) Michael Alexander emails students, faculty, and staff about students being “held harmless” should they miss class due to “being sick or [having] a compromised immune system.”
⃝ March 11, 2020
Interim Chancellor Sheryl Van Gruensven emails the UWGB community. Major takeaways include that beginning on March 23 through March 28, all UWGB classes at all campuses will be taught “via alternative delivery methods.”
Students leaving for spring break (March 16 – March 20) were strongly encouraged to go home and remain at home until further notice. Campus events from March 14 through March 22 were canceled. The Kress Events Center closed beginning on March 15 through March 29.
A state of emergency was declared in thirteen states, as those states had reported “some of the highest levels of COVID-19 cases.”
⃝ March 17, 2020
UWGB extends teaching via alternative means for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. Students who are able to return to their primary residence are “strongly urged to do so.”
⃝ March 20, 2020
UWGB announces that commencement is being “reimagined.”
⃝ April 24, 2020
Furloughs are announced at UWGB, impacting 227 employees.
⃝ June 11, 2020
UWGB emails students informing them that there are plans to return to in-person classes for fall with various modes of teaching.
⃝ June 15, 2020
University reopening phases are released.
⃝ August 11, 2020
Fall classroom guidelines are released.
⃝ August 22, 2020
Spring 2020 commencement takes place with a drive-thru ceremony at UWGB.
⃝ October 12, 2020
December commencement is to be moved to May 2021 in hopes that an in-person ceremony could be held.
⃝ November 9, 2020
Drive-up rapid testing for COVID-19 at the Weidner Center opens.
⃝ January 7, 2021
Prevea Health and UWGB announce they will be opening a vaccination site at the Kress Events Center.
⃝ January 18, 2021
The vaccination site at the Kress Events Center opens and administers first shots.
⃝ March 8, 2021
UWGB announces commencement for spring will again be a drive-thru celebration.
Campus Community Member Experiences
Matt Suwalski, Director of the UWGB Student Union, says that UWGB has done a “terrific job” of helping navigate the University through COVID-19.
“I believe our safety-first focus has been the right way to keep all students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible during the pandemic. By leveraging the knowledge of local experts including Dr. Ashok Rai from Prevea, the Brown County Health Department, and Dr. Brian Merkel, the campus has developed a robust response to this ever-changing environment,” Suwalski explains.
Events held on campus were a way to connect students and create a sense of community, but campus events look different.
“Due to the pandemic, we were significantly restricted in the types of events we could offer students. The campus has still been able to [have] a great variety through a virtual modality, and we are now starting to pivot, allowing more in-person events that can be done safely,” Suwalski said.
Suwalski says that he believes the campus will always look different after the pandemic is over.
“There are some practices that have provided unique opportunities to interact with a broader student population. Within the next year, the on-campus experience will return to a more regular looking experience, but we will try to continue to offer hybrid events to allow streaming for students who are online-only or commuters to continue to engage with campus,” Suwalski explains, “It is our goal to make all students feel welcome on-campus and develop a robust on-campus experience by providing student engagement opportunities that reach broad audience and content.”
Navatnie Etchin, a senior at UWGB studying biology, says that she thinks the university has done a good job so far with communicating information about changes to campus due to COVID-19.
Etchin says that the Fall 2020 semester was a lot different than what she was expecting.
She said she expected all UW schools to be operating similar to each other based on the information she saw, but that was not what happened.
Etchin works for UWGB’s Good Times Programming, a group that organizes events and activities for students. Her experiences with GTP help provide insight into the possible future of the campus.
“I think it’ll always look a little different…I work for GTP, so I plan a lot of events, and even now, once we’re starting to get back to where you can go to in-person events, people aren’t really attending those events anymore like they were before everything went on lockdown,” Etchin says, “There’s just not as much turnout at like events. And I think people just have to kind of like learn how to like go to events again and like interact in public, face-to-face.”