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Here's how area colleges and universities are handling the coronavirus outbreak

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Students gather around the eternal flame on UND’s campus. File photo.
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As universities and colleges across the country make decisions about how they will continue classes amid coronavirus concerns, universities in North Dakota are making their own choices.

North Dakota has one confirmed case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. The case is in Ward County, which is in north-central North Dakota. In total, 41 people have been tested in the state with 12 tests turning out negative and 28 with results still pending as of Thursday night.

In Minnesota, there are nine confirmed cases with more than 300 tested as of Thursday.

Here’s a look at what various area colleges have planned:

Many colleges and universities in North Dakota are on spring break from the end of the day Friday, March 13, until classes, in whatever fashion, begin again on Monday, March 23.

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Bismarck State College

Bismarck State College will continue its face-to-face classes on Monday, March 23, following spring break.

Spring break begins at the end of the day Friday, March 13, with students returning to class on Monday, March 23.

Although the college is planning to hold in-person classes after spring break, the college noted that could change as the situation develops.

Students living on campus are asked to take essential belongings, academic materials, laptops and medications with them for spring break to be prepared for changes to this rapidly evolving situation that may occur while they are off campus.

Those students who would prefer not attending in-person classes are free to make arrangements with their individual instructors. They will be accommodated to the extent possible in completing their courses online.

Faculty members who, for any reason, believe themselves to be at greater risk are encouraged, at their discretion and in consultation with their dean, to arrange to offer the remainder of their courses for this semester online. We ask that students be respectful of this decision.

Campus operations will continue as usual. All employees should continue their regular work schedules unless advised otherwise by their supervisor.

“All decisions are subject to change as this situation evolves. Our goal was to create the least amount of disruption to our students’ education. We will reassess the situation daily,” said BSC President Larry Skogen.

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Dickinson State University

Dickinson State University officials announced Thursday, March 12, they will be suspending face-to-face classes after spring break.

DSU staff, faculty, and administrators will arrange for alternative course delivery for the period of Monday, March 23, through Monday, April 13.

“This is an unusual time as we face unprecedented circumstances. We are taking these measures to ensure the safety of our campus and community,” said Interim President Steve Easton. “At this time, the best way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is by limiting contact through large gatherings of people. We appreciate your patience and understanding and thank you for your cooperation.”

Faculty will determine how best to use technology to help students to continue their coursework. Non-residential students are encouraged to plan ahead if they leave campus for spring break, and take what they will need.

The DSU campus will remain open and student services -- including tutoring, advising, disability services, housing and dining -- will remain available. The university will continue to operate all campus facilities. Staff will continue to report for work and will be asked to coordinate with supervisors regarding duties and responsibilities.

DSU will not be hosting any public events on campus beginning Monday, March 16, through Monday, April 13.

Concordia College

Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. has not yet decided whether it will go online for a period of time, as of Thursday evening.

The college's website has the following message:

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"The Emergency Response Team (ERT) is continuing to monitor national, regional and local developments regarding COVID-19. ERT is working closely with the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC. The team will now begin meeting daily to process new information and retool contingencies in this very fluid situation.

As of March 11, guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health do not direct Minnesota colleges or universities to move to fully online instruction. While Concordia is not moving to online instruction at this time, Dean Susan Larson is working with faculty to prepare for remote/online instruction if the need arises."

Dakota College at Bottineau

Dakota College at Bottineau will shift on-campus/in-person classes to alternative instructional delivery for the two weeks following spring break, the college announced Friday, March 13.

Dakota College at Bottineau will remain open, but classes will be offered in alternative formats (such as interactive video or conferencing technologies, online, recordings, etc.) during the weeks of March 23-27 and March 30-April 3.

Faculty will determine how best to utilize technology so students can continue with their education during these two weeks. No changes will be made to classes which are already offered entirely online or to dual credit classes which are taught by high school instructors, the college said. Students are advised to check their email messages frequently for further information from their individual instructors.

At this time, the DCB campus intends to remain open during the next three weeks and has no plans of suspending operations. However, hours of operation and services in certain departments may be limited depending on employee availability and campus needs.

Residence hall students are asked to take their essential personal belongings and academic materials home with them as they depart for Spring Break and to not return to campus until Sunday, April 5.

"While we are encouraging students to remain away from campus, for those students unable to leave, our residence halls and dining services will remain open," the college said.

Lake Region State College

Lake Region State College is moving much of its courses online following spring break, the college announced Monday, March 16.

Academic and lecture-based courses, including those scheduled through the Devils Lake campus, the Grand Forks Air Force Base and UND Launch!, will be taught online for the remainder of the semester using the Blackboard learning management system.

The college says students should watch for an email from their instructors, the base director and Launch! coordinator for more information. Students should log into their courses on Monday, March 23, unless otherwise directed.

Career and Technical Education students in wind, auto, precision ag and simulation technology should return to campus after spring break and report to their program location at 9 a.m. Monday, March 23.

The Minot class of the Peace Officer Training Program will resume as scheduled, the college said. Lt. Maritato will provide detailed information on Monday, March 23, regarding new protocol.

The Devils Lake, Grand Forks and Mayville students in the Dakota Nursing Program will resume learning, testing, clinicals, labs and simulation as coordinated by the DNP consortium director.

Residence hall students whose courses are all academic/lecture based and will be delivered online are asked not to return to the residence halls after spring break. Students should contact Housing Director Scott Dunbar for more information.

International students and students in wind, auto, precision ag, simulation technology and nursing who live in the residence halls may return as scheduled following spring break.

The Lake Region State College campus is open to current students, faculty and staff but is closed to the general public. Exterior doors will be unlocked, but guests will be asked to check in at the nearest office.

College Care for Kids remains open.

The Learning Commons will be open 7:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and closed evenings and weekends. Interlibrary loan will be unavailable.

The LRSC Education Office at the Grand Forks Air Force Base has been closed as the GFAFB has been restricted to essential personnel only.

All spring athletic seasons, including volleyball, softball, baseball and the clay target/shooting sports league have been canceled.

Mayville State University

Following along with much of the North Dakota University System, Mayville State University announced late Thursday night that it would also be moving to online only classes beginning Monday, March 23 with in-person classes set to resume on Monday, April 6.

At this time, the university intends to remain open and has no plans of ceasing operations, the university said in an email to students. Hours of operation and services may be modified to meet the needs of faculty, staff, and students. The university's Child Development Programs will remain open and operate as usual.

Effective Saturday, March 14, students who are leaving campus for spring break should not return to campus for an additional period of two weeks. Residence hall students are asked to take their essential personal belongings and academic materials home with them as they depart for spring break and not return to campus until Sunday, April 5. Students unable to leave should contact Jeffrey Powell or Andrew Pflipsen should they have questions or concerns regarding available residential accommodations.

"We acknowledge that these are extraordinary times that require exceptional measures to deal with a health risk that affects all of us," President Brian Van Horn said. "However, at this time the best tactic available to prevent spread of this disease is through social distancing and limiting contact with large groups of people. We are committed to doing everything we can for the safety of our campus community.Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation."

Northland Community and Technical College

Northland Community and Technical College will be suspending all classes through Sunday, March 29, and will then conduct all classes through alternative delivery formats through the end of the semester.

The decision, made in conjunction with the Minnesota State System Office, also applies for a number of schools in Minnesota.

Classes will resume Monday, March 30 via alternative delivery formats for the remainder of the semester.

Alternate formats means any number of possible changes to how a class is held. For example, it could mean using technology in a different way or even a change in the number of times a class is held. Because many students do not have adequate access to technology, and some subjects cannot be taught in an online format, we are actively exploring a range of alternatives.

Northland has created a landing page that is updated frequently to keep students, staff and community apprised of any recent developments. That page is found here: northlandcollege.edu/safety/coronavirus .

Minot State University

Minot State University will shift on-campus/in-person classes to remote instructional delivery for the two weeks following spring break, the university announced Thursday, March 12.

Minot State University will remain open, but there will be no face-to-face classes held on campus from March 23 to April 3. Faculty will determine how best to utilize technology so students can continue with their education during these two weeks.

The MSU campus intends to remain open during the next three weeks and has no plans of suspending operations, according to an email sent to the campus Thursday. However, hours of operation and services in certain departments may be limited, depending on employee availability and campus needs.

Residence hall students are asked to take their essential personal belongings and academic materials home with them as they depart for spring break. They also are asked to not return to campus until April 5.

While the university is encouraging students to remain away from campus, for those students unable to leave, the school’s residence halls and dining services will remain open. Dining services will be closed from March 14 until 5 p.m. on March 22, as previously scheduled for spring break.

North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University will be suspending in-person classes until early April. There will be no face-to-face classes from March 23 to April 3. Students should be back to normal instruction on April 6, according to the university.

NDSU goes on spring break next week.

"Class instruction will transition to virtual instruction for the two weeks following spring break," Mike Borr, director of the NDSU Police Department and Safety Office, said during a news conference.

Students who leave for spring break "should plan not to return to campus" until face-to-face classes resume, NDSU said in an email.

North Dakota State College of Science

The North Dakota State College of Science will hold classes online to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The school goes on spring break next week.

Classes will resume March 23, but they will be held remotely, the school said. Face-to-face instruction should resume April 6.

“All classes scheduled to be held face-to-face at the Wahpeton campus and the NDSCS-Fargo location will be held through distance teaching and learning during this time,” NDSCS announced in its release. “NDSCS will remain open and staffed throughout spring break and during the weeks of distance teaching and learning.”

Residence halls will be “available when necessary to support students who are unable to leave campus or need to return” before that date, the release said.

Campus dining will be open to students.

University of Mary

The University of Mary, located in Bismarck, will stay open for in-person classes.

However, if students wish to complete their classes online, they can.

“For the time being, our students are most welcome to remain on or commute to our campus

for classes to finish out the semester,” the university said in a news release. “We will continue to monitor this developing situation, and we are providing clear instructions for such students so that their experience can be as safe as possible for themselves and others, with minimal disruption.”

Residential students on a meal plan who choose to depart campus will receive a partial credit in their student account at the beginning of their next enrolled semester. The credit will be calculated based on the remaining weeks in the semester minus an amount for fixed costs which are, by nature, irrecoverable by the university. Due to legal reasons, the university says it will not be able to issue refund checks in this amount, but it will decrease the costs of the next semester. An exception is those who are set to graduate next month, who will receive a check upon completion of their final course.

University-sponsored travel is also on hold. The Rome semester abroad has also been canceled.

University of Minnesota system

The University of Minnesota system announced Wednesday that it would be canceling in-person classes for two weeks after spring break.

In a Wednesday, March 11, statement, University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel announced that in-person courses will be suspended out of health and safety precautions for the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 63,000 students are enrolled in the system across five campuses statewide. UMN's Duluth, Rochester and Twin Cities campuses are currently on spring break, which now has been extended to Wednesday, March 18. The Crookston and Morris campuses' spring breaks are scheduled for next week, March 16-20.

University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota will be suspending in-person classes after spring break.

From Monday, March 23, to Friday, April 3, students will have their instruction online with many courses using video conferencing technology to continue their work. Aviation students will be able to continue their flight instruction programs, but new enhanced disinfection requirements will still apply.

Courses are set to resume in-person on April 6.

However, that date could change depending on the situation.

Valley City State University

Following spring break, the university will change the way academic instruction is delivered for two weeks. From Monday, March 23, through Friday, April 3, classes will not be held on campus and will instead be online.

Other off-campus learning experiences — internships, practicums, clinicals and the like — are dependent on the decision-making of external providers. Students are advised to contact instructors with specific questions.

Residence halls are closed for spring break (with some individual exceptions); that closure will continue until Sunday, April 5.

Those students who have traveled for spring break are encouraged to not return until the residence halls reopen. Students on housing and dining contracts will receive additional communication regarding returning to the halls prior to the April 5 reopening.

Williston State College

Williston State College will also suspend most face-to-face instruction for the two weeks following spring break, March 23 through April 3.

Campus will remain open and all other campus facilities will continue to operate, the college said in a news release. Faculty and staff will continue to work from campus or remote locations, so there may be some interruption of regular work schedules and services based on availability of WSC staff members. Additional details will be provided as they become available.

Effective Saturday, March 14, students who leave campus for spring break should plan not to return to campus for an additional period of two weeks.

Most face-to-face classes will not be held on campus during the weeks of March 23 to 27 and March 30 to April 3. Faculty will determine how best to use technology to enable students to continue their coursework during this time.

With CTE and laboratory-based classes, instructors are responsible to schedule alternative meeting dates/time and learning activities for their students. Students should contact their instructor with any specific questions.

WSC encourages students to remain away from campus during the next few weeks. If necessary, students with housing and dining contracts will be able to live on campus and use meal plans after spring break. Additional information will be provided to students through the housing office.

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 smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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