University of Wisconsin–Madison

Spring Semester Guidelines for Supervisors

Many UW–Madison employees who have been working remotely will be returning to their on-site workplaces over the next several months. The safety and well-being of everyone in our campus community—including employees—will continue to be our top priority as we bring more people back to campus. We will follow public health guidance while considering individual circumstances.

Policies, procedures, and expectations related to workplace safety will continue to evolve as new regulations, information, and guidance becomes available. Please continue to monitor this page for additions and updates.


If you have questions or need assistance, please contact:

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Meeting Toolkit and Letter Templates

Meeting toolkits and letter templates are being revised. They will be re-posted here when available.
Updated 4/22/2021

Building protocols

Frequently Asked Questions

Health and Safety

Cleaning and Disinfecting of Workplaces

Positive COVID-19 Cases, Exposure, or Symptoms

If an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, are they required to report the positive test result to the university? Updated

    University Health Services (UHS) will be the repository for all COVID-19 test results for employees working on campus, at campus facilities, and for all students. Test results for individuals who are tested at an on-campus testing site will automatically be reported to UHS.

    People tested elsewhere — such as Alliant Energy Center, UW Health, an urgent care center or a doctor outside of University Health Services — should report positive test results to UHS via the Safer Badgers app. Additional information is available at

    UHS will follow up on every confirmed positive COVID-19 test report. For additional details, go to

    Updated February 5, 2021

  • If an employee tells me they tested positive for COVID-19, who do I notify and what information should I get from the employee? Updated

    If an employee reports receiving a positive test result, take a few moments to acknowledge the difficult and challenging circumstances the employee may be experiencing. If the employee is in the workplace, tell them that they need to leave immediately.

    If the employee was tested at an off-campus testing site — such as Alliant Energy Center, UW Health, an urgent care center or a doctor outside of University Health Services — direct them to report their positive test results to University Health Services (UHS) via the Safer Badgers app.

    Please also contact your DDR to let them know that the employee tested positive so they can support the employee to identify remote work and/or leave options. Be sure to keep the employee’s test result confidential and do not share it with other employees.

    Updated February 5, 2021

  • Will I be notified if an employee in my unit tests positive for COVID-19?

    Yes. Your Divisional Disability Representative (DDR) will notify you if an employee who is a direct report has tested positive for COVID-19. The DDR will work with you to discuss the nature of the employee’s work and what temporary work adjustments might be available, if it is determined that the employee is eligible to work remotely while at home and feels well enough to do so. The DDR will also notify you that you may be contacted by a contact tracer for further information or instructions.

    The DDR will also notify those with responsibility for oversight of your work location—the dean, director, chair, center director, or someone else at your school, college, or division—that a person in a particular work unit or operational area has tested positive, but the identity of the employee will not be shared unless one of these individuals is also the employee’s direct supervisor or there is a clear business need.

  • If an employee in my work unit tests positive for COVID-19, can I notify the co-workers of the employee?

    Through the contact tracing process and in consultation with the DDR, University Health Services (UHS) will notify work unit colleagues (including student employees) if they were in close contact and were potentially exposed. Close contact or exposure will be determined by UHS or Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC). However, work unit colleagues will not be given identifying information that would disclose which employee has tested positive for COVID-19, unless there is a specific need for them to receive this information.

    Do not share this information with work unit colleagues who were not likely to have been exposed as determined by UHS or PHMDC through contact tracing.

  • A DDR has notified me via email that an employee I supervise has tested positive for COVID-19. Can I share this with my work unit?

    No. If you receive an email from the DDR notifying you that an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the email should be permanently deleted and should not be placed in the employee’s personnel file. It should not be shared with others in the work unit or with the dean, director, chair or center directors. The DDR will share information with others as needed to facilitate safety measures and contact tracing. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your DDR.

  • Is an employee’s health information confidential in the workplace?

    The privacy of medical information is protected by the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the Federal Rights and Education Privacy Act (FERPA), Wisconsin’s state laws about medical records privacy, and the confidentiality requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All of these rules and regulations allow for the sharing of medical information in this situation, in order to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Information may be shared with specified individuals, including University Health Services, Environmental Health & Safety, DDRs, and supervisors.

    An employee’s medical information will be kept confidential and separate from their personnel file as required under the ADA.

  • Can I ask an employee if they have COVID-19?

    Generally, no, you cannot ask an employee if they have COVID-19. However, some units are required to ask about COVID-19 to comply with safety requirements due to work performed by employees in the unit.

    In some circumstances, a Divisional Disability Representative (DDR), UHS representatives and/or public health agency representatives who are engaged in or supporting contact tracing efforts may ask an employee if they have or have had COVID-19. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your DDR.

  • Will employees be eligible for paid leave if they are unable to work because they test positive for COVID-19?

    The University of Wisconsin–Madison provides a variety of potential leave options to employees when they are unable to work or telework (work remotely) for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The human resources department will help employees determine which leave options they qualify for.

Exposure or Possible Exposure to COVID-19

  • What do I tell employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace?

    If you have been instructed by University Health Services (UHS) or your DDR to notify employees about exposure in the workplace, follow these steps:

    • Inform the employee they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
    • If the employee is in the workplace, direct the employee to leave the workplace and contact their healthcare provider for additional guidance.
    • Encourage the employee to self-quarantine and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms. If they develop symptoms during quarantine, strongly encourage them to isolate themselves and follow guidance from their healthcare provider or PHMDC.

    Additional information about what to do when someone is sick or possibly exposed to COVID-19 is available from Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC).

If an Employee is Experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms or Feeling Sick

COVID-19 Testing

Returning to On-Site Work After Testing Positive for COVID-19 or Being Exposed to COVID-19

Reasonable Accommodation, Workplace Flexibilities, and Leave Options

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