U of M hopes to welcome students back for fall 2021 with some restrictions

While the university anticipates its phased return to in-person instruction, dialogue continues regarding specifics and ambiguities for students.

The decision comes amid more uncertain times as the number of cases of variants of the novel coronavirus increases across the country, and as the university’s operation depends on public health orders, which were considered when determining the current phased plan, and which vice-provost Janice Ristock says will determine the protocols followed. As such, the U of M “will continue to monitor and adjust as necessary.”

Ristock anticipates that on-campus COVID-19 protocols like social-distancing and mask-wearing will remain for some time, and encourages the U of M community to get vaccinated, “if not for themselves, for immune-compromised members of our community.”

International students who are enrolled in in-person courses will follow federal travel requirements, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine and two COVID-19 tests, one upon arrival and one at the end of quarantine.

While plans are not currently being discussed with regard to a compassionate grading scheme come fall semester, UMSU president Jelynn Dela Cruz said that while her term as president is coming to a close, she continues to sit on the COVID-19 recovery steering committee and she hopes to raise those concerns, along with any other concerns that may arise during her time on the committee.

Dela Cruz emphasized the importance that, while restrictions permit, courses beginning in-person stay in-person, and courses beginning remotely remain remote.

“Regardless of what their decision may be for in-person or online classes, student well-being is at the forefront of it so that they aren’t necessarily making a shift that is dramatic enough to disrupt student well-being.”

She noted that, if plans do change, it is easier for classes in-person to shift online than it is for remote classes to come onto campus.

It is for that reason, Dela Cruz added, that the university’s decision to keep large classes and classes that can achieve their goals remotely online is “one of the safest things that they can do.”