In an email to the campus community, UND indicated it has been monitoring its COVID-19 response closely and has been “pleased with the efforts of our UND community working together to test, isolate and quarantine as necessary and practicing COVID-19 safe behaviors.”
“Because of this and its impact in reducing the number of positive cases, the university has decided we will continue in our current hybrid mode (offering both on campus and online classes) after the Thanksgiving holiday,” the campus note said.
Faculty members are to confirm with their department head and dean if they intend to move their courses online after Thanksgiving, which follows current protocol, according to the university. Faculty are to make these decisions no later than Friday, Oct. 2, to allow students and families to make appropriate travel plans.
All finals will be online only.
UND President Andrew Armacost said in August that the university would make a decision about Thanksgiving break by Oct. 1.
UND’s Thanksgiving break begins on Wednesday, Nov. 25 through Friday, Nov. 27 with classes restarting on Monday, Nov. 30. The university then has nearly two weeks of instruction before the last day of classes on Dec. 10.
Meloney Linder, vice president of marketing and communications at UND, said the university will continue to monitor its COVID situation closely.
“At any time, if we see a surge in cases, we can re-evaluate that decision,” she said.
When asked if there were any concerns about virus spread with sending students home, having them return to their communities then come back to Grand Forks, Linder said that the university had similar discussions about what the Labor Day weekend would mean for case numbers but the university hasn’t seen a spike in cases since then. Students were asked to stay in Grand Forks over the Labor Day weekend to limit movement between communities.
“There’s always the worry, because we are dealing with a pandemic, of course, but again we really feel like our community’s been doing what we need to do to keep our numbers down now,” Linder said.
Linder said the university recognizes the “value of in-person classes,” in particular labs and other courses that benefit from in-person learning
Commencement will be held virtually on Dec. 18 because of the risk level assigned to Grand Forks County by the state. The university held its spring and summer commencements both online earlier this year.
UND’s active COVID-19 cases have generally been lower compared to the beginning of the semester, when the university had more than 300 active cases.
The UND COVID-19 dashboard shows 44 self-reported positives as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. The dashboard, which updates in real time, shows that 133 individuals were being quarantined or isolated.
The decision to hold any form of in-person classes varies somewhat from other campuses nationally and regionally.
North Dakota State is currently planning to still have hybrid classes after Thanksgiving, according to Brynn Rawlings, NDSU’s media coordinator.
The University of Minnesota is planning to stop any in-person courses after the Thanksgiving break. Students will finish their courses and finals online, the university announced in August.
In an effort to reduce travel, South Dakota’s six public universities will conclude classroom instruction by Thanksgiving, the South Dakota Board of Regents announced in June.
Instead of returning to campus after the Thanksgiving recess, students will complete their final exams remotely.
UND asked the campus community to “continue to practice safety measures on and off campus, including wearing face coverings, physically distancing, washing hands often and participating in testing opportunities.”