In a special meeting today, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved adjustments to the Fall 2020 plans on three of the University’s campuses. These changes, which come in response to the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, will delay on-campus move-in by at least two weeks for the Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities campuses, as well as shift undergraduate instruction on those three campuses to online formats for at least the first two weeks of fall term. Move-in and instruction will continue as planned on the University’s Crookston and Morris campuses.
University President Joan Gabel proposed operational adjustments for fall term as higher education institutions nationwide have experienced sharp increases in COVID-19 transmission on their campuses as students have returned to campus and begun fall classes. In some cases, these institutions have been forced to make significant changes to their approaches in an effort to slow the virus’ spread in their communities. The Board approved the proposed delay to move-in and instructional formats in Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities to provide the University additional time to evaluate the changing public health landscape on college campuses, new and emerging federal guidance on testing, as well as to continue assessing actions that have helped similar institutions mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“We appreciate the work that President Gabel, her administration and thousands of faculty and staff members have invested to develop comprehensive plans for fall,” said Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell. “The University has valued flexibility in its plans to allow us to adjust course to best protect our campus communities. This pause to additionally assess the dynamic landscape around us will help ensure that our plans continue to reflect the latest public health guidance.”
The Board approved the following updates to the plans for Fall semester around the University of Minnesota System:
- The University will postpone move-in dates for University housing in Duluth, Rochester and the Twin Cities by at least two weeks. If University housing is a student's safest and best option, or to address the needs and concerns of international students, the University will work with them to ensure they have a place to stay on campus.
- Undergraduate instruction for Duluth, Rochester and the Twin Cities will begin as previously scheduled but will proceed online for at least the first two weeks of fall semester, with some limited exceptions. Graduate and professional students will continue with their schedule as communicated previously by their programs.
- Students have already moved into University housing on the Morris and Crookston campuses. They will remain on campus and classes will continue as scheduled in both of these locations, which operate in communities where reported COVID-19 case numbers are lower compared to other areas of the state. Any necessary adjustments to protect the health and safety of these campuses will be regularly considered.
“While I know many may be disappointed by this necessary change, our mission means little if we place any member of our campus community in high-risk situations that could otherwise be mitigated,” Gabel said. “I am incredibly thankful to our faculty and staff who have contributed countless hours of preparation to assure excellence in education in this unprecedented time. I am also grateful to our students and their families for their flexibility and resilience.”
During the coming weeks, students living off-campus are advised to limit their time on campus to academic and personal health resources, and to strictly adhere to public health guidance about physical distancing, face coverings and basic preventative actions like hand-washing. Faculty and staff who have already been approved to be on campus through the University’s Sunrise Plan may continue with their on-campus work. All other faculty and staff are advised to continue working from home.
In addition to the changes approved to the Fall 2020 plans, the Board also discussed factors that University leaders will consider to determine how or if on-campus instruction and activities could proceed as planned following this two-week shift. University leaders shared they will review data against a variety of criteria to determine next steps: case demographics, availability of rapid testing capacity, review of changing federal and state guidelines, and other campus and community response factors.
The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet next on Sept. 10-11, 2020. Visit regents.umn.edu for more information.
- Campus Affairs