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University of Minnesota proposes pushing back student return to campus, classes

President Joan Gabel's proposal goes before the Board of Regents Monday.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel has proposed delaying students' return to dormitories on three of its campuses by two weeks, and the first two weeks of the new semester be conducted entirely online.

The U of M was planning on restarting the new academic year under a hybrid model in response to COVID-19, with around 70% of classes remaining online, with in-person instruction for the rest.

But in a letter to students Friday, Gabel said that she wants to push back the return to campus for students in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Duluth for "at least "two weeks as the U responds to new federal testing guidelines, with instruction being conducted wholly online with a few, limited exceptions.

There will be no changes to the move-in date or class plans at the Morris and Crookston campuses.

In announcing the delay, Gabel reference the "rapid spread" of COVID-19 at other higher education institutions that have already reopened, such as UNC Chapel Hill and Notre Dame, while Michigan State has already transitioned to wholly online instruction having originally planned to start with a hybrid model.

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Minnesota also this week saw 17 St. Olaf College students suspended and 50 placed into quarantine after multiple students were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 at an off-campus party where social distancing and face mask-wearing weren't observed.

Gabel noted that White House advisor Dr. Deborah Birx said colleges should resume with the capacity to conduct 10,000 tests for COVID-19 a day, which "does not align with our current plans."

The U of M Board of Regents will discuss Gabel's request to delay Monday.

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