Information for Faculty and Academic Personnel

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Faculty Senate Q&A

Are faculty “required” to be on-campus to prepare to possibly go online or would the administration prefer that faculty work remotely to minimize risk of exposure? 

Social distancing is not social isolation; we all still need to do regular life activities including keeping our University open. Rather, it aims to reduce the density of people in a space at a given time and the number of large group interactions people have (e.g. class sessions). De-densifying protects everyone–faculty, staff, students, and the broader community. Slowing the spread of the virus also helps ensure our health care systems are not overwhelmed and have the capacity to provide care to those who need it when they are sick.

We care about everyone’s health. As the Incident Management Team evaluated the situation and events of the week, we felt it was critical that we take precautions to limit the risk of exposure to all members of our community. The best actions we can take to care for everyone is to help slow the spread of the virus and minimize its effects on vulnerable populations. This is done by limiting social interactions through social distancing as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the only tool we have under our control at this time, and we are using it.

We are de-densifying by extending spring break by one week, and we are all practicing social distancing. Faculty certainly can be at work -there are fewer students, no large events, etc. so we have already de-densified. We have made some of our training sessions and workshops next week available through remote access, and you can choose to participate in-person or virtually.

Will faculty still have access to campus during the semester if we go all online? For example: lab sciences classes might still wish to have faculty in the lab doing work/running experiments that students can watch. Would we still have access to our labs and supplies?

As of this time, there are no plans to close the University. If we move online and the University remains open, faculty are likely to have access to their labs and offices.    

Student question - What was the rationale for closing the Butler Center, but leaving the library and cafeteria open?

It is a very high touch/non-essential area. Further, athletic teams may need to continue to practice (as they usually would) over spring break, and we wanted to limit their contacts with other students and the community as the Butler Center is open to community members as well.

Student question -  Will there be an expectation for students to attend online synchronous lectures during their normally scheduled class time, or will the move to online mean that all courses will be asynchronous as well as remote? Students voiced concerns with synchronous online lectures based on time-zone differences when they are at home and also the desire to pick up different work shifts that would conflict with class time. 

Faculty may choose to offer synchronous or asynchronous sessions. If faculty choose synchronous sessions, they must occur in the scheduled time slot for courses for the Spring 2020 semester and must be recorded and available for students who were not able to participate. Students may not be penalized if they do not attend the synchronous sessions.

Will there be any change in the internal deadlines for GHR and APDC grants? For faculty working on collaborative grant applications with students, the April 15 deadline will be much more difficult to meet with the extended Spring Break.

*This answer has changed and should be the following now:


Giving the adjustments everyone must make to move to remote working and teaching, the decision has been made to postpone the current APDC and GHR Innovative Scholarship proposal deadlines until April 30. As of now, the APDC committee will review both types of proposals as planned on May 7, so award determination notifications will not be delayed (applicants will be notified of award status in early May). If this changes, we will be sure to let you know.

Does extending spring break for a second week mean that we have one less week to cover content, or are we extending the semester? In other words, students/faculty aren’t covering content in their courses next week?
You have one less week to cover content. At this time, we do not plan to extend the semester.

What is the communication plan if we become aware of students who either have been exposed to COVID-19 or test positive? For example, do we notify the faculty, students or others regarding their exposure to the student? I'm wondering more about how (if) we tell faculty or students who may have had contact with the infected individual.  

The University is following Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines for these types of situations. Currently, the direction from MDH is that no action needs to be taken unless the person who is exposed develops symptoms and is tested for COVID-19. 

If the testing comes back positive for COVID-19, MDH will perform contact tracing (reach out) to that person’s contacts. Contacts of known COVID-19 positive patients should quarantine for 14 days and should be monitored closely for symptoms. If contacts develop symptoms of any fevers, cough, or shortness of breath, they should alert MDH immediately and undergo testing.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should contact Dr. Amy Kelly, Director of Health and Wellness.

I have been identified as the contact of someone who is being tested for COVID-19. What do I do?


The MDH will perform contact tracing (reach out) for people confirmed to have COVID-19. Contacts of known COVID-19 positive patients should quarantine for 14 days and should be monitored closely for symptoms. If contacts develop symptoms of any fevers, cough, or shortness of breath, they should alert MDH immediately and undergo testing.

If you have been identified as a contact of someone being tested, you should monitor for symptoms, but will likely not meet the criteria for testing unless you develop symptoms OR if your contact tested positive for COVID-19 and you develop symptoms of COVID-19.

We also want to emphasize the importance of confidentiality of a students'  identity—as we don't want the student to preemptively receive unfair treatment from peers/faculty, etc.

We take confidentiality seriously for all faculty, staff, and students per HIPPA and FERPA, and expect that everyone will abide by those policies.

We do not have the ability to offer hotspots to students. We recognize that internet access is an issue for some students, and we must acknowledge this and be flexible. For example, we will relax the criteria for incompletes (see the March 25 community update).

During the extended spring break, what limits are placed on what faculty can expect from students?

Faculty teaching first-half term and full-semester online/hybrid courses may – but do not have to – continue this week, but faculty may not require anything of students. If students do not participate for any reason, they cannot be penalized. Many students are likely to participate, but it is okay for them not to for any reason.

Will midterm grades still be due at the same time?

Yes, they are due on March 29. This will be particularly important at this time of uncertainty for students. Please submit midterm grades as soon as possible and no later than March 29. 

Funds will not roll over into the next fiscal year. 

GHR funds are allocated to faculty for a variety of activities. If this is in regard to travel funds for faculty and staff attending particular conferences, then, no, those would not carry over.   

What about coordination for students in ACTC courses? What are the implications if institutions have different plans for online / in person instruction? Can they also move back to campus if ACTC courses are resuming in person?

Please refer students to Julie Capistrant in Academic Advising who will work with each student individually. We are monitoring other schools’ decisions related to COVID-19.
Note: At this time, we have not told students that they have to leave campus.

How long should we hold off on gatherings of 50+ people? ex: awards ceremonies and other end of year celebrations - should we plan and then cancel if needed? 

For health and safety reasons, the University made the decision to cancel events of 30 or more people through May. The Governor has advised against gatherings of 250 or more, and has not set a timeline on this order. We will continue to follow the Governor, CDC, and MDH guidelines related to events and large gatherings.

Since students left campus so abruptly without knowing whether they would be returning, what plans are in place for resident students who left campus to return to pack and retrieve all of their things in their rooms? Can students return to get books etc if they are near campus?

Please view the message sent to student residents on March 23 regarding access to residence halls and collecting personal items.