Even with fewer coronavirus cases, UND asks students to remain cautious

UND President Andrew Armacost, along with a number of campus leaders, held a virtual townhall meeting Tuesday, March 9, with students and parents. Another meeting was held Tuesday afternoon for faculty and staff.

UND student Josh Martinson adjusts his mask on the first day of classes at UND during a branded face-covering distribution event for students at Wilkerson Commons on Monday, Aug. 24. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald

Even with lower numbers of COVID-19 cases, UND leaders are remaining cautious for the rest of the spring semester.

UND President Andrew Armacost, along with a number of campus leaders, held a virtual townhall meeting the evening of Tuesday, March 9, with students and parents. Another meeting was held Tuesday afternoon for faculty and staff.

Case numbers have been down on campus compared to last semester. According to UND’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been a few more than 100 cases since the beginning of January. In total last semester, there were more than 1,800 cases, including students and employees. Case numbers across the state had peaked to a “dangerous level” around November, Rosy Dub, director of UND’s COVID medical response, said.

The spring semester has seen a decrease in the number of cases, but also in the number of people who are getting tested for the virus, Dub said. However, there also has been a decrease in the campus positivity rate, which is a positive sign, she said.

The decrease in testing could be attributed to a number of factors, including people not getting tested because they had tested positive in the previous 90 days. Other factors might include an increase in the number of people being vaccinated, Dub said.


“We are seeing less COVID on campus than we were this fall, so we are reacting accordingly,” Dub said.

While numbers are down, Dr. Joshua Wynne, dean of the UND medical school and a practicing cardiologist, said the campus should be on lookout for new COVID variants.

“If we get a substantial influx of some of the variants that are more transmissible, we could have a problem,” he said. “Please don't let your guard down quite yet, because this could come roaring back. I don't think it will, but I would just urge you to continue to be careful and do things that are both UND policy, like wearing a mask as appropriate, and also showing personal responsibility by avoiding large gatherings and washing your hands and so forth.”

Despite a countywide mask mandate being dropped , UND is planning to keep with its mask requirement for the rest of the semester, the university announced earlier this week.

The coronavirus vaccine will not be required for students, faculty or staff but is highly recommended for everyone, leaders said.

Once people are vaccinated they should not need to be tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis and should only get tested when they have symptoms, Wynne said.

Other items discussed at the meeting:

  • The university is planning to move back to a more traditional residence hall process in the fall, including students, especially freshmen, having roommates, according to Troy Noeldner, director of student housing. Single rooms will still be available for returning and older students.

  • One commenter asked why UND is opting to stay around 25% capacity for athletics events. UND Athletic Director Bill Chaves said the university and its partners are still trying to make the events physically distanced. He said when the tickets were originally sold they were sold with the thought that there would be 6 feet between patrons. At this point, he said, even though more people could be allowed into games, the university is going to stick with the same number of patrons being allowed in.


Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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