Today the University of Minnesota unveiled the “Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan,” which includes a four-step process for how students living in University housing will return to campus, attend classes, and ultimately, participate in campus life in a new COVID-19 normal.
The University will welcome residence hall students beginning on Sept. 9 in Duluth, Sept. 15 in the Twin Cities and Sept. 18 in Rochester. Initial move-in dates were delayed on these campuses to provide University leaders more time to observe the experiences of higher education institutions across the country that started their semesters with spikes in COVID-19 transmission, among other data and information.
In addition, as approved by the University’s Board of Regents on Aug. 24, most undergraduate courses at Duluth, Rochester and the Twin Cities will be offered in a distanced manner for the first two weeks of the semester. The University confirmed today that when the two-week pause is completed, classes on these campuses will return to their previously announced mode (remote, online, in-person or blended).
“No one wanted to delay the on-campus experience that our new and returning students so desired, but we knew that taking a brief pause to learn from the challenges our peers around the country were experiencing would allow us to again adjust our approach to manage transmission, and ensure a higher level of safety for our students, faculty, and staff,” said University President Joan Gabel.
“The Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan anchors in our ongoing commitment to prioritize the health and safety of all members of our University community,” Gabel continued. “To that end, we continue to learn from others, we continue to trust the advice of our public health and medical professionals, and most importantly, we continue to adapt when necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The Plan includes the following carefully-designed “steps” for students at the Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities campuses:
Step One - Students living in housing will have limited on-campus activities. They will live and learn almost exclusively within residence halls for approximately 10 days with some exceptions, such as attending any in-person classes, utilizing dining or campus health facilities, going to work, tending to family emergencies, or being outdoors while physically distancing. Students should not visit other residence halls, nor businesses or residences off campus during this step. Students should maintain physical distance and wear masks when they are outside of their rooms.
Step Two - If Step One proceeds well, in Step Two, students in University housing will have increased access, including visiting all on-campus locations and the surrounding community. However, students must be “back home” in their room by 9 p.m. Step Two is expected to last two weeks, provided public health guidance indicates good compliance and progress.
Step Three - Students in University housing will have full access to University facilities and communities off campus as they do in Step Two, but they must be “back home” in their room by midnight. This step is also expected to last two weeks.
Step Four - As in the other steps, students are asked to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and avoid large gatherings as they continue to have full access to on- and off-campus locations. But different from Step Three, there are no “back home” time constraints during this step.
At any point, campus and University leaders may decide to extend any of these steps or revert to previous steps. These decisions will be made based on available public health and COVID-19 case information, the status and effectiveness of public health response operations (in partnership with local and state public health partners), as well as the status of general campus operations.
The Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan also outlines:
- Guidance for off-campus students,
- Student conduct expectations,
- Reminders to all students to utilize the MTest program or other means to immediately access testing if they are experiencing symptoms or instructed to seek testing by public health or medical officials, and
- Steps the University will take to engage the local business community to reinforce compliance of statewide face covering and other public health guidance.
Finally, students on the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses have developed public health awareness campaigns to remind fellow students that a successful fall semester requires everyone to do their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Move-in has already occurred and instruction has begun as planned on the University’s Crookston and Morris campuses. Those campuses will continue with their original plans as campus and University leaders continue to closely monitor Minnesota Department of Health testing data for Polk and Stevens counties, where these campuses are respectively located. The University is prepared to pivot to restrictions on these campuses if the data require it.
- Campus Affairs