In effort to limit extended student travel in the coming months, the University of Minnesota-Crookston will not have a spring break in 2021.
Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause said students will instead get multiple days off spread throughout the semester, rather than the typical entire week.
“We made that call early just because we know students would want to get their airplane tickets or plan on that time off,” she said. “Our spring break is in the middle of March and, unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be through this by then.”
Crookston, like colleges across the country, sent students home during the spring semester earlier this year in an effort to keep COVID-19 cases away from the campus and the area. The students did not return fully to campus until this fall.
Holz-Clause said the days off will be spread throughout the semester because university leaders don't want students to take long four- or five-day weekends that allow them the chance to go home or other places.
“We know that it's much better if they just stay in one location,” she said.
Classes are set to begin Jan. 11 on the Crookston campus and will likely look similar to this semester with a mix of hybrid, in-person and online learning, Holz-Clause said. Classroom capacities will likely be around 50% again, she said. Face covering requirements, social distancing measures and other mitigation measures will continue to be in place in the spring semester.
“We anticipate that spring will look very much like fall did for us,” Holz-Clause said.
Though testing won’t be required prior to the start of the semester, UMC is asking students to be tested before they come back to campus, especially since they will be fewer than 14 days removed from New Year’s Eve, when many gatherings occur, she said.
The campus will have an additional residence hall open to help lower the population density, Holz-Clause said. Students will be able to sign up for a single room, if they want it. Move-in times will be staggered.
Athletics competitions will be starting up again, but without fans, Holz-Clause said. The games will be livestreamed. Athletes will be tested three times a week, including before games, with rapid tests, Holz-Clause said. At present, athletes are being tested once a week, but as a part of conference protocols there will be more testing.
Other Minnesota colleges also are planning their return to campus for the spring semester.
Northland Community and Technical College, with campuses in East Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, says it will begin the semester with remote instruction in lecture and theory-based courses. Those classes will be offered online and may include real-time virtual lectures. Programs requiring hands-on lab components that cannot be replaced with virtual instruction or simulation, such as Northland’s trades and health programs, will be held on campus, exercising social distancing protocols to ensure safety.
The college said that programs were asked to plan for a flexible model to adjust to demands to ensure safety during the pandemic.
“Northland’s faculty have had years of experience with online instruction,” Brian Huschle, Northland Provost, said in a statement. “We have been leaders within the Minnesota State System and region in online education, and more recently leaders for ‘hyflex’ pedagogy, with several programs moving to this type of instruction – one that allows students to shift from online or remote to in-person instruction – even prior to the pandemic.”
When the pandemic’s impact in the region improves, NCTC will return with “limited lecture-based instruction to allow for in-person participation on our campuses as an option for students.”
Northland says it will continue offering student services both in-person and online. Academic advisers and other student service professionals are making appointments available through several modes of delivery.