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Minnesota college students wonder what fall semester may look like

Alex Jokich
Updated: May 14, 2020 07:06 PM
Created: May 14, 2020 07:01 PM

College students in Minnesota say they are stuck in limbo, as universities try to decide how to handle the fall semester.

Students tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it's difficult to know how to proceed with important decisions, such as signing leases for housing, when there are no clear answers about how their campuses will be operating in August.

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"It's just daunting thinking about, what are we going to be doing come next fall?" said Julia Ek, a junior at Bethel University. "It's so unknown and it's so hard to try to make a decision now when we just don't know what's going to happen."

The California State University system, the nation's largest university system, was the first to announce this week that all 23 of its campuses will remain closed for the fall.

That has students in Minnesota wondering whether their colleges will follow suit.

"Do I prepare myself to go back and remain hopeful that we're going to be back on campus?" said Kate Wallace, also a junior at Bethel University. "Or, do I face maybe a more realistic approach of preparing to be online and trying to prepare my heart and my mind for what that may look like?"

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked university systems in Minnesota for an update on their fall plans.

The University of Minnesota said it has not made a final decision yet but plans to do so by early June. In a recent letter to students, University President Joan Gabel said, "We are actively planning for a range of possibilities, including on-campus instruction, alternative instruction, or a combination of both—in addition to remaining open to other options depending on how public health conditions evolve." You can see her full letter here.

The Minnesota State system is also "preparing for a range of scenarios." Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said, "Every one of the 30 colleges and seven universities of Minnesota State will be open in the fall and ready to welcome students. Our colleges and universities will likely have a breadth of online, remote, and in-person delivery mixes, appropriate to the nature of the programs they offer and in alignment with local needs and practices. We will adapt as necessary to safely serve them and continue to provide an extraordinary education." You can see his full statement here.

The University of St. Thomas plans to reopen in the fall. University President Dr. Julie Sullivan said, "We are preparing to be open this fall and welcome students to our classrooms and residence halls with the institution of appropriate health and safety protocols. We do not yet know exactly what our next 'new normal' will look like, but we anticipate a balance of in-person and virtual instruction." You can see her full statement here.

Bethel University said it is "eagerly planning for students' return to campus this fall." In a letter to students, University President Jay Barnes said, "While we don't know with certainty what the fall will look like, we are actively preparing for a scenario that would allow us to resume face-to-face education." You can see his full letter here.

All of the universities 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with said their decisions will be guided by the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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