Health and Safety

The health and safety of the entire University School of Milwaukee community was at the forefront of the school’s reopening plan, shared with families in August, and it continues to be the primary driver in all decision making. The primary goal of every decision that has been and continues to be made is to keep students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible while on campus while doing everything possible to prevent any spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community.

USM works closely with the North Shore Health Department as the school continues to monitor the COVID-19 data in the area, and also works with other area health departments as needed. In addition, an internal USM health and safety team has worked closely with medical professionals in various fields to assist the school in creating and modifying policies and protocols.

Daily Health Screenings

Parents or caregivers must conduct a screening, which includes taking the child’s temperature at home prior to boarding a bus or arriving at school, each school day, using the PikMyKid app. Faculty and staff also use an online screening tool prior to their arrival at school each day and may be required to stay home if there is a concern that they may have COVID-19. On-campus temperature checks of students, faculty, and staff will not be taken prior to those individuals being allowed into the building.
Faculty and other staff check student temperatures at least one additional time during each school day using no-touch infrared thermometers, in case a child’s temperature rises during the school day, or in case any medications taken by the child before arrival were masking a fever.

Face Coverings

For the 2020-21 school year, masks (cloth or surgical) will be required for all adults (including all visitors), and for all students in junior kindergarten through 12th grade. A clean or new disposable mask is required each school day. Prekindergarten students are strongly encouraged to wear masks as well, although we understand it may be difficult for some children in this grade to be able to do so consistently.
Face masks should be any solid color or pattern material, and should not include any letters, numbers, logos, or symbols, similar to other dress code requirements. Small, discrete manufacturer logos or marks on masks will be acceptable.
Face shields may be worn in addition to masks, but may not take the place of masks, as the specific research around the effectiveness of face shields is inconclusive at this time. Following spring break, gaiter-type face coverings will no longer be allowed during the school day.
Students have been shown the proper way to take off and put on masks, including for lunch and mask-break times. Children are welcome to bring an extra mask with them each day, or keep a bagged supply of their own extra masks at school. USM also has a large supply of surgical masks that will be provided to students as needed, to use for the remainder of the day.
USM knows that it is difficult, if not impossible, to expect all students, faculty, and staff to wear a face mask for the entire school day. Individuals will be able to remove masks during lunch, when they will be appropriately physically distanced from one another. Other opportunities for mask breaks will vary by age groups, but some examples include outdoors, when physical distancing recommendations can be followed.
The school is committed to ensuring that all students, faculty, staff, and visitors follow the rules in place for the wearing of face masks. All individuals will be educated about the reasons for wearing masks as well as the specific rules, including those around mask breaks. We expect all individuals in our community to follow the mask policy, and any infractions will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Physical Distancing

In addition to signage indicating things such as hallway paths and one-way stairways, all students, faculty, and staff have received guidance on how to properly maintain appropriate physical distancing. Classrooms have been set up following physical distancing recommendations, and community spaces are only used if appropriate physical distancing can be maintained for the size of the class or group using the space.

Hand Washing and Sanitizing

Yes; all students, as well as all faculty and staff, have been trained on proper hand washing and sanitizing practices, and hand washing continues to be emphasized as a primary method of prevention. Hand washing and/or sanitizing is required throughout the day, including before and after all classes and visits to the restroom, and additional time will be provided for this to occur. The school has hand sanitizer stations throughout the building and outdoors, and all individuals are encouraged to use these on a regular basis. All hand sanitizers used by the school have been and will continue to be checked to ensure no recalled products are in use.
Yes; USM continues to educate all students, faculty, and staff on the use of a product called Zoono, which can be applied to hands at the start of every school day. Zoono is an advanced hand and surface sanitizer that USM has purchased. One application to hands lasts for up to 24 hours and protects against bacteria and viruses by rupturing their cells on contact. It is colorless, odorless, environmentally safe, and completely safe and gentle. Its protection is not affected by additional hand washing and sanitizing with hand sanitizer throughout the day.

Mental Health and Well-being

The school is aware that this continues to be a difficult time for students and their families. Faculty and staff have been informed and trained on things to watch for regarding student mental health and emotional well-being. School counselors and USM’s behavioral health team have also received additional training, and more will occur, both for those individuals and faculty and other staff. Regular conversations with students about self-care also take place. The school is also working to ensure support is in place for staff and especially faculty—who will be going above and beyond this year in support of their students—and their families, as needed.


Classrooms, and all common areas, are cleaned daily with CDC-recommended, EPA-certified, cleaning products. Our custodial team and school nurses partnered with an outside consultant to develop a cleaning plan that meets or exceeds all recommendations for all indoor and outdoor spaces. Common outdoor spaces (playground equipment, athletic areas, etc.) are also cleaned and sanitized daily. Classrooms and common areas also undergo a regular deep cleaning.
Where necessary, classrooms and other common areas have plexiglass dividers in place, and these are also regularly cleaned and sanitized.
Yes; the school made a major investment in improving the air quality, and the HVAC systems in all campus buildings underwent significant upgrades, with state-of-the-art bipolar ionization technology from Global Plasma Solutions installed on all air handler systems. With this technology, all airborne particles are reduced, odors are neutralized, energy is saved, and more pathogens, including bacteria, mold spores, and viruses, are killed. The system is optimized to bring in as much fresh air as possible, and is balanced as guided by building codes, and the weather. The school’s air quality and HVAC systems have always met or exceeded government standards.

COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing, and Isolation/Quarantine

You should plan to keep your child at home for COVID-19 symptoms, until cleared by his/her healthcare provider, based on the following guidance:

Does your child have one of the following symptoms?
    Cough (new or worsening)
    Chills/shivering or temperature of 100.0F or higher
    Diarrhea or vomiting
    New loss of taste or smell
Does the student have two or more of the following symptoms?
    Muscle or body aches
    Sore throat
    Runny nose/congestion
    Unusual fatigue
If your child has any of the following symptoms, call EMS or 911 immediately:
    Inability to wake or stay awake
    New confusion
    Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
If your child has one or more of these symptoms, you should also contact his/her healthcare provider immediately. Your child may also be required to take a COVID-19 test, and receive a negative result, before returning to campus.
USM strongly encourages all families to continue to practice appropriate physical distancing and wear face masks outside the home and when around others, and families are welcome to have their children (and others in the household) tested regularly or as needed. USM requires all students, faculty, and staff (other students using distance learning, and any individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months) to be tested following USM's extended breaks (Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break) prior to returning to campus. This testing (rapid antigen and, if necessary, PCR tests) is conducted on campus at no charge to families.
Any individual who displays COVID-19 symptoms or has received a positive COVID-19 test result is expected to isolate according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidelines (currently 10 days). Any individual who has been in high-risk contact (currently defined as 6-feet physical distancing or less, for 15 or more cumulative minutes in any 24-hour period) with another individual who has received a positive COVID-19 test result is expected to quarantine according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidelines (7- and 10-day options; see Protocols section on this site for more information). Although students are not able to be on campus for classes during an isolation or quarantine period, they would be able to continue through distance learning.
Any individual experiencing or showing COVID-19 symptoms would be evaluated in the USM Nurse Clinic. Depending on the evaluation, the individual may then be isolated in a dedicated area of the school, with supervision, until a parent or caregiver is able to pick the child up at school.
USM continues to follow the Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidelines, which suggest a 10-day isolation or 7–10-day quarantine period that must be met before an individual will be allowed to return to on-campus classes (or work, for faculty and staff). Please see the Protocols section on this site for more details about quarantine requirements. All student test results (positive or negative) should be submitted to for the school's records.
Any positive test for COVID-19 in the school community would prompt an immediate outreach to the North Shore Health Department for sharing and guidance. It is also possible that the NSHD (or another health department, depending on a family’s home address) may notify the school of a positive test result of a USM student. Depending on the situation, it could be that an entire class may need to quarantine (including the teacher), or a smaller group of students and teachers might need to quarantine. School nurses would perform contact tracing for any school situations, and the North Shore Health Department would do so for anyone outside of the school community. Following the contact tracing, USM would notify the families of any impacted students, although, due to privacy policies, the school does not disclose any specific details of individuals with positive test results.