Fall 2020: UMR Maroon and Gold Sunrise
Throughout the summer, University of Minnesota leaders have been developing in-depth protocols for Fall 2020.
Extensive plans were in place for what the semester would require, including a carefully scheduled move-in to on-campus housing; consideration of how classes could be taught and precautions necessary to do so; dedicated isolation and quarantine space for those with housing contracts; instructions for on- and off-campus students, faculty, and staff if they become sick or test positive for COVID-19; a comprehensive testing process that follows Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines; and many other public health and medically-recommended adjustments.
We developed these plans relying on key guiding principles:
- Prioritize the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff;
- Ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are as safe, if not safer, than the surrounding communities in which our campuses exist;
- To the extent possible, give students flexibility around the choice of an on-campus experience, or other alternative;
- Reinforce our mission of teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and public service, while keeping our community safe; and
- Use data and science to evaluate the status and effectiveness of our public health response systems and general campus operations designed to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Using these principles, many faculty and staff who can only do their work on site have developed detailed safety plans through the University’s Sunrise Plan process, allowing for their successful return to campus. Students have partnered with the University to encourage use of safety precautions including face coverings, handwashing and physical distancing.
Even with these successes and the optimism they gave us about the fall, we saw many higher education institutions across the country start their semester with spikes in COVID-19 transmission. But in some cases, the institutions were forced to abruptly change their approaches to online learning to slow the virus’ spread in their communities.
We knew that taking time to learn from our peers’ experiences would allow the University to adjust its approach to ensure a higher level of safety for our students, faculty, and staff. New research discoveries, evolving data, and the experiences of other campuses help us improve what we do in our own community. We are also grateful for the expertise and advice of our public health and medical professionals—at a state level and within our own University—and we have relied on that advice to refine how we fulfill our commitment to safety.
To this end, we have developed what we are calling the UMR Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan for Fall 2020.
The UMR Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan includes four important steps for how students living in University housing will return to campus, attend classes, and ultimately, enjoy campus life in our new COVID-19 normal.
Here is what students residing in University housing need to know:
Students in University Housing
Students will receive notification about move-in dates and times from our Residence Life Director, Mariah Pederson, by Wednesday, September 9th. When you arrive, you will move in and enter Step One of the plan.
Students living in University housing will have limited on-campus activities for the first 10 days. These limits are designed to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
UMR’s move-in date will begin on Friday, September 18.
From September 18-28th, students living in University housing will:
- Remain in their residence hall except to:
- Attend classes (when such classes are in-person or blended)
- Purchase groceries (which can be done online, with delivery)
- Use campus health and library facilities
- Participate in Rochester YMCA programs
- Participate in work study or other employment
- Be outdoors and physically distant
- Attend to a family emergency
- Go to medical, dental, or mental health appointments
- Attend religious activities
- Students should not visit off campus residences or businesses (except to secure groceries).
- 318 Commons students and Residence at Discovery Square students should not visit the other residence hall or have visitors in their room.
- Guests who do not live in 318 Commons or Residence at Discovery Square are not allowed.
- Students should follow the University’s community pledge to protect yourself and others.
For exceptions to these expectations, residential life staff will be empowered to make common sense decisions. Given the potential public health ramifications, students who do not follow Step One requirements may face disciplinary action, including termination of a student’s housing contract.
- Per MDH guidelines, students moving into residence halls will not be tested on arrival, but students who experience any symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately follow the steps provided on the Student COVID-19 flow chart, which will lead to testing and support by the COVID Care Team. If the student lives in on-campus housing, they will be quarantined from other students (unless they are already in a single room) to protect their peers while awaiting test results. If the test is positive, on-campus students will be offered isolation space and support (including food) unless they wish to return home or to another location for their isolation time period. If at-risk individuals live in the ill student’s home, returning home to isoloate is not advised. The UMR COVID Care Team and/or Olmsted County Public Health will provide support to students in quarantine or isolation (unless they return home).
- Campus leaders will review available COVID-19 case information, status and the effectiveness of public health response operations (in partnership with local and state public health partners), as well as status of general campus operations to determine if moving to Step Two is feasible or if Step One restrictions should be extended. It is very important that students with symptoms are tested to ensure the public health system on our campuses and surrounding communities are working as designed to meet individual and campus needs.
We know that these requirements are different from any other year. During Step One there will be special activities planned for students in campus residences to help you connect with others in ways that abide by physical distancing and other public health guidance. Even so, this will be difficult, but by working together, we can minimize transmission and safely remain on campus with classes continuing, whether online, in-person, or hybrid.
During Step Two, students in University housing will enjoy increased access as follows:
- In addition to everything allowed under Step One, students can also visit other on-campus locations and the surrounding community.
- Students must be “back home” in their room by 9 p.m. Exceptions will continue to be made as noted in Step One. Non-overnight guests are allowed until 9 p.m.
- Step Two is expected to last two weeks, provided public health guidance indicates good compliance and progress.
- Campus leaders will continue to review available COVID-19 case information, status and the effectiveness of public health response operations (in partnership with local and state public health partners), as well as status of general campus operations to determine if moving to Step Three is feasible or if Step Two restrictions should be extended. It is very important that students with symptoms are tested to ensure the public health system on our campus is working as designed to meet individual and campus needs.
In this step:
- Students in University housing will enjoy full access to University facilities and to communities off campus as they do during Step Two, but they must be “back home” in their room by midnight. Non-overnight guests are allowed until midnight. We expect Step Three to last approximately two weeks.
- Campus public health leaders will continue to review available COVID case information, 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 to determine if moving to Step Four is feasible or if Step Three restrictions should be extended.
In Step Four, students living in University housing will continue to have full access to University facilities and to surrounding communities (but should still wear masks, maintain distance, avoid large gatherings, etc.). But different from Step Three, there are no “back home” time constraints and overnight guests are allowed.
Campus public health leaders will continue to review available COVID-19 case information, status and the effectiveness of public health response operations (in partnership with local and state public health partners), as well as the status of general campus operations until the conclusion of the fall semester.
Throughout the process, reverting back to a previous Step will be required should the situation on campus dictate that action.
Students living off campus are expected to follow all public health guidance around wearing masks, physical distancing and avoiding gatherings. Students can attend class and use campus facilities. Know that those facilities are operating in compliance with public health guidelines.
Any student who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (or has reason to believe they have been exposed) should immediately follow the COVID-19 Student Action Flow Chart and seek testing and support. Students who reside off-campus and test positive for COVID-19 will be called by a public health representative, which is the typical process for all people living in Minnesota who test positive. During that call, students should expect public health officials will assess their individual living situation and provide appropriate instructions for the person who tested positive, their roommates and any close contacts about self-isolation (for the person who tested positive) and how to limit use of shared spaces to best protect the health of roommates and close contacts. In situations where additional resources are needed to support self-isolation, public health officials will work with individuals to find solutions.
If the individual has no family or other outlets to appropriately isolate, Olmsted County will provide support. We are fortunate that Minnesota has a strong public health network. Our communities are well supported by MDH and the public health partners at the city and county levels. This system has been working well since the beginning of the pandemic in Minnesota.
In almost all cases, local public health partners are able to find a solution that does not require emergency housing. These partners are routinely working on complex cases—including large, multi-generational families with limited means—and are able to develop appropriate isolation and quarantine plans in these instances. They anticipate the same will be true for any students living in off-campus housing
Student Conduct Expectations
Until there is a vaccine, the only way to be together on campus and minimize the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and avoiding large gatherings. We know that spending time together is a key part of the campus experience, but we must exercise restraint until we have a vaccine or other treatment, especially for social gatherings (e.g., off-campus parties, bars/restaurants) that have been directly linked to clusters and outbreaks on many campuses in recent weeks. Avoiding such gatherings and following public health policies creates an opportunity for the University to remain in an in-person environment versus returning to the online mode that institutions found themselves in last spring. More importantly, complying with our established public health measures will protect those within our campus community, and those outside our community, who are at increased risk of COVID-19 complications.
Our success depends on:
- Collaboration. By working together—students, faculty and staff—we can move forward with our hybrid classroom model and on-campus experiences, ensure the safety of our University community, and engage in the core missions of this institution to the benefit of our students and the state.
- Flexibility. We will need to adapt as individuals and across our campuses.
- Choice. We know that everyone is in the best position to define what makes them comfortable.
- Commitment. This isn’t easy, but if we work together and support compliance, we will get to the other side of this pandemic faster.
We expect students to follow this UMR Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan as the best way to keep themselves and others safe and healthy, with the understanding that disciplinary action may be taken when expectations are not met.
We will reach out to Mayor Norton, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and local business organizations to seek their partnership in keeping our surrounding communities safe and allowing for a successful semester for UMR students.