Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Online learning and move-in delays: U of M system considering fall semester changes

Aug 23, 2020 06:43AM ● By Editor

By Briggs LeSavage of KBJR-TV - August 22, 2020

Changes to the start of the fall semester proposed by the University of Minnesota system president Friday could mean starting the school year with two weeks of online classes for UMD's undergrad students and a pushed back move-in date.

In an email from President Joan Gabel to all University of Minnesota system faculty, staff, and students Friday afternoon, she pointed to COVID-19 clusters on the nation's campuses that have already welcomed students back to campus.

Gabel proposed individualized changes for campuses. They are expected to be considered during Monday morning's Board of Regents meeting.

Here are the changes she proposed for the Duluth, Rochester, and Twin Cities campuses:

-Move-in dates for University housing on all three campuses are postponed for at least two weeks to provide additional time to evaluate new and emerging federal testing guidance, as well as continued evaluation of techniques used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This window helps us avoid moving large numbers of students into on-campus housing and then moving them out again if public health conditions eventually require distance learning for the remainder of the fall semester. Students who plan to live in University residence halls or apartments will soon receive more information from the relevant office on your campus.

-If University housing is your safest and best option, or if you are an international student with no other housing option, we will work with you to ensure you have a place to stay on campus. Duluth, Rochester, and Twin Cities housing will remain open to students facing these challenges, much as it has for a small number of students during the spring and summer terms. Students should contact the housing office on their campus with concerns.

-Undergraduate courses for all three campuses will proceed as scheduled, but will be wholly online for at least two weeks with some limited exceptions. Prior to the start of the semester, students will be informed by their professors about how courses will change, if at all. After the Regents meeting next week, please contact your advisor or student success coach if you have questions or concerns about your schedule.

-Graduate and professional students will continue with their schedule as communicated previously by their programs. The population density of both groups of students is much less than undergraduates, providing a higher degree of protection from transmission. Please reach out to your advisor after next week’s Board meeting for more information. Remember to follow all applicable campus guidelines on facial coverings, physical distancing, and other personal hygiene measures to reduce viral transmission.

-International students with questions about requirements to maintain lawful status pursuant to their visa should contact International Student and Scholar Services.

-Students living off-campus on these three campuses should limit time on campus, if possible, to academic and personal health resources (e.g. libraries, Wifi connections, student wellness centers, etc.) and follow public health guidance about large gatherings, physical distancing, facial coverings, and basic precautions like hand-washing. As you evaluate the impact of this news on your off-campus move-in plans, we draw your attention to this guidance from the MDH to help you stay safe and reduce pandemic spread. You are a key part of our ability to move ahead and we are counting on you.

According to Gabel, under this plan, student employees on all University of Minnesota campuses "can and should" continue to report for work unless otherwise directed by their manager.

"Faculty, researchers, and staff that have already been approved to be on campus through the Sunrise Plan can continue with their work," Gabel continued. "Any additional requests to return to campus should be made only if doing so is required to complete work. All other faculty and staff should continue working from home."

The Board of Regents will consider Gabel's proposals at its Monday meeting.

To watch a video version of tis story and see sealed stories, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here