Updated: 3:51 p.m., June 12
The University of Minnesota plans to partially return to in-person classes and students on campus this fall, with social distancing and other safety measures for COVID-19.
The plan, laid out on Thursday during a Board of Regents meeting, includes widespread testing, spaces dedicated for quarantine and campuswide contact tracing. U President Joan Gabel said about 25 to 40 percent of coursework will be in person this fall. Dining halls will be pickup-only, and there'll be no quad dorms, just two students to a room.
The school suspended all in-person classes across its five campuses and moved to online instruction in mid-March due to coronavirus concerns.
"Much planning needs to be done, but we are here to report the appropriate progress given what we know and what we know we are able to anticipate going forward,” Gabel said. “And with all of this we're extremely excited to welcome our new and returning students back to our campuses this fall."
Gabel said the proposal included input from students, faculty and administrators, and has built in flexibility to respond to changes in guidance from public health experts.
"This continues to be a challenging time and there is much uncertainty,” provost Rachel Croson said. “This framework is designed to balance our needs for sufficient direction to continue planning for the fall, while retaining flexibility to pivot as public health guidance allows.”
The proposal originally called for an early start to the semester, but on Friday, Gabel said school leaders decided against starting early because it would cause problems for students who lease off-campus apartments.
She said that students in Morris will still begin the fall semester early on Aug. 19, a week ahead of the original schedule, and that all five campuses expect to wrap up in-person classes by the Thanksgiving break.
The plan will go to the regents for approval in July.