Students who left campus for the Thanksgiving break should stay home through the winter break, if possible, UND officials say.

“Students with all online courses who choose to travel outside Grand Forks for Thanksgiving should finish the semester away from campus and return to Grand Forks at the start of the spring semester,” UND President Andrew Armacost said. “If students live in the residence halls, they can keep personal items in their room until they return in January.”

If students do return to campus, they should test for COVID-19 at one of the upcoming testing events on campus, Meloney Linder, UND vice president for marketing and communications, said.

The next testing event will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the UND High Performance Center. There are testing events scheduled throughout December.

Students who have classes physically on campus were encouraged not to travel for Thanksgiving.

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Linder said the upcoming semester has been a point of discussion during Armacost’s meetings with his executive council. More details on the spring semester will be released in the next couple of weeks, before the semester wraps up, to give students time to plan what’s best for them, Linder said.

She said the university is monitoring the situation closely.

UND said, while there will be no residence hall refunds, students who do not return after Thanksgiving will receive a 5% dining refund, consistent with North Dakota University System policy.

In a video shared with campus last week, Armacost said the spring semester classes will start as planned on Jan. 11. He said the university is having ongoing discussions regarding the safety of campus and “will continue to communicate more information in the upcoming days.”

“These are, indeed, challenging times,” Armacost said. “It is incumbent upon each of us to look out for the emotional and mental well-being of our friends, classmates and co-workers. Stress levels this time of year on college campuses are already high, and throwing COVID into the mix makes it even worse.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were 135 active, self-reported positive cases of COVID-19 related to the university. That number includes nine faculty, 18 staff and 108 students. There are 328 individuals in isolation or quarantine. There are 41 individuals in isolation or quarantine in UND purchased hotel rooms, as of Wednesday.

All finals will be online, with no exceptions, UND said.

The upcoming winter commencement will be held virtually this year. All of UND’s commencement ceremonies in 2020 have been held virtually.