Students get questions answered at online UND Forum

UND administrators answer student questions about taking classes remotely

Direct links to the videos are also available on Vimeo and YouTube.

On Tuesday, March 24, UND senior leaders held a UND Forum via Zoom, during which they answered questions from students about the impact of the coronavirus on UND operations.

(The below transcript of the webinar has been edited for clarity and length.)

Joshua Wynne

Interim President Joshua Wynne: These certainly are extraordinary and challenging times and we thank all our students for your commitment to UND. But make no mistake about it, our strong commitment is to you. Our commitment is on two levels. One, to try to ensure your safety in this time and the safety of the UND and surrounding community and, two, to help you complete your educational goals.

These are difficult times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the principal ways of trying to deal with this is what we call social distancing. That means to keep physically apart. I think, in these times, it’s important to remember that we’re really talking about physical distancing, and not social isolation. It’s really important that we stay together, and that’s why we’re having this Zoom conference. It’s also why we are working in the online format now. Now, I know that that is a change for some of you, but probably for most, you’ve had some activity online even before this as part of your educational experience. We have been working with both the external environment as well as internally to make sure we can make all of this work. We’ve been coordinating with the North Dakota University System as well as the North Dakota Department of Health and the Governor’s office to make sure UND’s response is in accordance with what else is going on in the state.

And in fact, your UND has helped lead the way in higher education to carry out safe, but effective, not-in-person education. And that’s what we intend to do for the remainder of this semester. As you know, those of you who are seniors, we unfortunately will not have a graduation ceremony this spring, but you will be acknowledged for your achievements, and we hope to welcome you in person at a subsequent commencement ceremony in the future. But for the present, we need to continue to work online, and we need to continue to have the students who are not on campus, remain at your home location, both for your safety and the safety of the community. But in this challenging time, we’re going to work with you to make sure your educational experience is the outstanding one that you expect from UND.

We welcome your questions. We hope to answer most of them today. But for those that we can’t answer today because of the one-hour format, make sure you check online and submit further questions. We will get back to you at the earliest possible opportunity to make sure we are responsive to your needs and to your questions. Over the last several weeks and even before that, Incoming President Andy Armacost and I have been working together as a duo, as a team; with me as interim president and Andy as the incoming president, and we have coordinated our activities. It also has enabled us to maximize the efficiency of the Office of the President with me focusing on some activities and Andy focusing on others. So you’re getting two for one, at least over these couple of months. And for those of you who haven’t yet had a chance, and the pleasure to meet Andy, I’d like to introduce him now and invite him to say some comments. Incoming President Armacost.

Andy Armacost

Incoming President Andy Armacost: President Wynne, thank you. I’m thrilled to be here to join my colleagues to share information with you, the student body of the University of North Dakota. it’s important that we’re here today to keep you up to speed on the decisions that we’re making, but just as importantly, to hear all the thoughts that you have in terms of the questions and the concerns that have risen up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, as President Wynne pointed out, it’s nice that I’ve been included in all the planning discussions, because when I take over on the first of June, all the discussions that we’re having now, certainly play into that timeframe. And so the transition from president to president will happen smoothly and without any interruption.

I pledge my support to each of you. I know that you’re going to listen carefully to the questions and answers that are posed today. And our goal, again, is to make sure that you have the information that you need as you go forward.

We’re committed as a team to take great care of you, and also to making sure that you still get a top-notch education. So, I’ll turn it over now to our COVID-19 response lead for the campus, Provost Tom DiLorenzo, who is going to run the session today and facilitate all the questions and answers for you. Tom, over to you.

Tom DiLorenzo

Provost Tom DiLorenzo: I’d like to say that I’m truly inspired with the ways that the faculty and staff have rapidly, competently and effectively risen to the challenge to continue to enhance student success and to ensure that seniors will graduate. I’m impressed with the compassion that the entire UND community is expressing to our students, our community and each other. The faculty and staff have embraced new methods of work and communication in our remote working environment. We have heard many positive comments from you, especially noting our commitment to you, which is true, and from parents who have thanked us for our continued communication. We have not solved every problem yet. But we are addressing questions, concerns and needs in a priority focused environment. And we are confident that we will get through this together.

For students who stay enrolled and active in their courses throughout the rest of the semester, will there be any changes to their financial aid?

Debbie Storrs

Debbie Storrs

Senior Vice Provost Debbie Storrs:  Welcome back, students, from your spring break. I want to thank you for being leaders in action as we navigate this remote landscape together. In terms of financial aid, if you stay actively enrolled and active in your classes, you should have no changes whatsoever to your scholarships or your financial aid. Some of you may need to make some adjustments to your course schedule. I encourage you to work with your academic advisor or to reach out to OneStop. They are here, ready to respond to you and help you navigate and make informed decisions. We want to make sure that you don’t make any decisions that might impact your federal financial aid because we are obligated to follow certain regulations. We just want to make sure students stay engaged with their advisors before you make any decisions.

Do we get reimbursed for dorm housing and meal plans since we are now off campus? And a corollary of that is student fees.

Vice President for Finance & Operations Jed Shivers: I want to start out by saying, I think we get the concept. In other words, a lot of people are going to be leaving campus. Broadly speaking, we

Jed Shivers

really have three main pieces: housing, dining, and maybe to some extent parking. We understand why people have a reasonable desire to see some sort of refund or credit. And I do want to also give my colleague Dr. Halgren a chance to talk about this as well. But let me tell you exactly where we are.

The University of North Dakota is part of the North Dakota University System. And that in turn is governed by the State Board of Higher Education. As of today, we had a meeting of the vice presidents of all the 11 institutions, plus the Vice Chancellor for finance. And we had a conversation expressly about this issue, because everyone is facing the same very reasonable question. And we have provided information about this, what we think the costs are going to be, etc, to the System. They are in turn compiling it for the State Board of Higher Education board members.

At this point, I cannot say that we will be able to do this because I don’t have the authority to make that decision. But I do think this matter is going to resolve reasonably quickly. That’s the impression I’m getting. I could be mistaken about that but as of today, that seemed to be the tone and tenor of the conversation. I just ask you to stay tuned. Like I said, we get it. And we’re working toward creating a reasonable solution that we hope will work well for students.

UND administrators are planning to work with members of UND’s Student Senate to work on potential proposals regarding satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading. UND archival image.

Is there consideration of moving to a pass/fail option for final grades?

Provost DiLorenzo: At this university, we don’t call it a pass/fail, but we call it satisfactory/unsatisfactory. It’s the same concept. And yes, we’re working on a plan right now. We’ve been in contact with the Senate Executive Committee and with Gracie Lian, who is the student body president, and we anticipate asking a couple of groups including the Student Senate tomorrow evening to work with us on a potential proposal. As we move forward, we’re very hopeful that we’ll let you know more about that in the very near future.

Will Aerospace resume flight training?

Editor’s note: The answer to this question was clarified on Wednesday in a statement made by UND Interim President Joshua Wynne.  President Wynne’s statement is as follows:

Given the recent announcement of shelter in place by the State of Minnesota, the University of North Dakota will continue to suspend all hands-on flight training within the Department of Aviation of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

I have made this decision in strict accordance with recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to ensure appropriate implementation of social distancing (keeping at least 6 feet between individuals) throughout our campus community. This is the most effective way to slow the spread of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Safety should be the top priority of every pilot.

As Interim President of the University of North Dakota, a practicing physician and certified pilot, I cannot, in good conscience, allow flight training to resume at this time, while promoting the safety and wellbeing of our students and campus community.

How do I get my things out of the dorms?

Cara Halgren

Vice President for Student Affairs & Diversity Cara Halgren: For students who are interested in getting their things right now, your keys and your ID access still works to get into the residence halls. We ask that you please coordinate with your RA if you’re going to check out. Part of our concern is we want to make sure that we know where students are and that they’re getting home safely. And if you change plans and are looking at getting your things and heading home for a while, we would appreciate if you connect with us and let us know that.

Is there an emergency fund for students in need of assistance? And if so, how do they apply?

Vice President Shivers: I think there are a couple of venues. The Alumni Foundation and Association will probably have some possibilities for funding sources to help out students in need. There are also mechanisms via the Student Financial Services area, wherein it’s actually an established mechanism so that if people need emergency loans, there’s a process that they can apply on a case-by-case basis. As those things come forward, we’ll be providing you with the pathways to do that if it’s necessary. You’ve got your entree into the whole student finance area already.

Will graduate student funding be extended by a semester for those graduate students whose research is being disrupted as a result of COVID-19?

John Mihelich

John Mihelich

Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Mihelich: It depends. What we’re trying to do is maintain the continuity of research. If you’re able to continue with your research, either remotely or on campus, that’s what we’re encouraging. If the question is, is it disrupted, it would depend on the funding source. If it’s a sponsor-funded project, then the PI would need to work with my office and the granting agency, and perhaps the program officer to see if there’s a change of scope or budget modification or whatever has to happen if it’s an externally funded project. If it’s an internally funded graduate stipend, then it’s going to depend on the arrangements made with the person who has authority over that fund. That might be a department chair, it might be a dean.

Provost DiLorenzo: I think that graduate students should work with their specific advisor, especially if they’re on a grant. And if it’s some internal funding like a GTA or something like that, they can also contact their college dean. The deans are helping to facilitate that as well.

What happens if someone has to come back to campus and is sick?

Vice President Halgren: One of the first things that we would ask you to do is to call our good colleagues in Student Health Services. They are available over the phone to help you identify what you might need to do in light of how you’re feeling. But most importantly, we want you to do that from the safety and privacy of your room and to self-distance from other people. Because if you are sick, we certainly want to protect your safety as well as the safety of those people around you. Student Health Services is available. They’re waiting to take your call, and they’re working with students to create plans for them that allow them to continue remotely in their education and get better and healthy.

I will be graduating with a master’s degree in special education this spring. Will there be a postponed commencement for graduate students? Or will we be reimbursed for our rental of a cap, gown and hood? When should we return our rental graduation gear?

Meloney Linder

Vice President Meloney Linder: It is a really sad decision that we had to make to cancel both graduate and undergraduate commencement for this spring. We want to make sure that our students have an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and are trying to find ways to do that. This spring, though, it will be virtually. We will, at a later date, invite those who are eligible to graduate this May to walk later, perhaps at summer or winter commencement. There’ll be more information on that forthcoming. You will have an opportunity to participate in a commencement.

As far as getting a refund for your cap and gown rental or purchase, we are having conversations now with our vendor partners. Some more information will be coming on that as well.

What is the status on the Spring Fever concert? Will we be getting a refund for tickets?

Vice President Halgren: Like commencement, the Spring Fever concert is a big deal. There are a lot of students who have been asking about that. My understanding is that my colleagues are working with the Alerus to try and find another time, perhaps this fall, to hold the concert. My hope is that while you might not be able to enjoy it at the end of this semester, we can welcome you back in the fall with something that is pretty wonderful. So stay tuned. I anticipate that that will be finalized probably in the next couple of weeks.

Will the Testing Center be open during this time for students?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: Our Testing Center was used predominantly for students who have a documented disability. And for the most part, they needed either more time to complete their test or quiet spaces for those tests. Those two things can be accommodated in remote fashion. So, if you have a documented disability and you need some help with some testing provisions, please contact the Testing Center and we will work with you and the instructor how to do that.

There are other tests that the Testing Center provided through relationships with other companies that required more constraints and restrictions on the testing environment, like when you take the GRE or the GMAT. Those companies have decided to close all in-person testing at all their sites across the nation at this point in time. So we aren’t able to provide that at this moment. We’re in close conversation with those companies and as soon as we know more, we’ll pass on that information. The ultimate answer is if you need help with testing, we will be there to help negotiate that with you and your faculty. Simply go to the Testing Center website and call that number. We are working remotely, but people will answer the phone during work hours. And we’re here to help you.

UND archival image.

What if my state bans us from leaving home for the next month and we can’t move out of the dorms before April 19?

Vice President Halgren: No problem. Our residence halls continue to remain open. Certainly we want to work with students and recognize that depending on the student and where you’re coming from, there could be any number of circumstances that an individual is dealing with. So again, while we say April 5, we do that really in an effort to try and get a handle in terms of the numbers of students that we have living on campus. We will certainly work with you outside of those times. And the best way to make sure that you get what you need is to call the Housing Office directly and they will work with you.

Will students receive some kind of tuition reimbursement? Also, will we be receiving a reimbursement for parking?

Vice President Shivers: I would say on the parking part – one of the student fee areas that I mentioned earlier – we’re waiting for some thoughts from the North Dakota University System, our office and the Board. This is not a we-versus-them kind of a deal. I think we’re all struggling to figure out where we want to go with this. I’m hoping that we’ll be pretty reasonable about this and come to a reasonable solution.

On the question of tuition, that’s honestly a somewhat different matter because here we are continuing to provide people with the educational opportunities that they desire and are paying for. My inclination would be that we would continue with tuition as normal.

Are there changes for students’ financial aid if their scholarship requires progress in flight courses?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: We’re waiting for our Aerospace colleagues to develop a flight training plan. I don’t want to respond to that question until we get that plan approved. There may be some responses and we’d be happy to work with each student. If you have a question, please contact the OneStop Shop or the student finance office. We are waiting for the Aerospace folks to develop a limited flight training plan. So I don’t want to make any promises or caution anybody yet.

In the state of Washington, we are currently in a stay-at-home order. Are there resources available to help students move out of their dorm if they are not able to return to Grand Forks?

Vice President Halgren: Of course. Right now, your items are safe in your residence hall room. Again, we recognize that things are changing quickly and that we may have to develop some plans in the future that allow students to perhaps store their items in ways that they hadn’t anticipated. As we have that information available to us, we will make sure that students are aware of what’s going on. But in the meantime, I would ask you again to work with our housing colleagues directly to make sure that your specific needs can be taken care of and addressed.

For veterans, if this situation goes into the summer, will it affect our benefits?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: We are in close contact with the Veterans Services and they’re trying to be very flexible. So as soon as we know more information, if it impacts you in any negative way, we’ll let you know. But at this point in time, I don’t tend to see any issues to your benefits.

For students who are employed by the University but not in work study capacity who depend on that pay for rent and food, what plan is in place to allow them to work to financially support themselves?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: Students who work on campus are working because they need to help pay their bills. And we have a real committed effort here to provide remote work opportunities for you. It may be the case that some of the work that you’ve been assigned, you can’t do remotely. And so we’ll be working with your supervisors to identify if we can transfer your jobs to somewhere else on campus where they may be able to accommodate your needs to work. We’re working on that.

I would suggest that you let your supervisor know that you’re interested in continuing to work and you would like to work remotely. If they can’t accommodate you, ask them to let either me, Debbie Storrs, or Provost Tom DiLorenzo know, and we’ll try to coordinate an opportunity for you.

For medical school, will the prospective date for the incoming medical school class still be July 6, or will it be online?

Interim President Wynne: I’ll take the question and generalize it a little bit, because it really applies to the summer semester at UND. At this point, we are not sure exactly what the configuration will be for the summer semester. As you know, our plan to continue online is for just the spring semester, so we will have to make that determination as we get a little closer. But at this point specifically for the incoming medical school class, it is our plan at this time for it to begin July 6.

For those of you who may think that medical school usually starts in August, it usually does, but we’ve had a revision to our curriculum. It is the plan now that it’ll start as scheduled. The only thing that is yet to be determined is the method of instruction, whether it will be face-to-face or online. That determination, just like the entire summer semester, has not been made yet. But if the decision is made to go online, because we have already shifted the remainder of the curriculum to online for this semester, that will not be an insurmountable task. So I plan on seeing you on July 6, although I don’t know whether I will see directly or virtually. That’s yet to be determined, but we look forward to seeing you.

Housing has emphasized no rush. However, in the housing self-service application, it is published that the last date to move out is April 5th. In addition to this, the Aviation Department has hinted at the possibility of reopening flight operations. What would be the correct action to take for moving out? If a student moves out but flight operations reopen, where can that student live?

Vice President Halgren: If you move out, the residence halls will remain open. We would welcome you back to the residence halls if you choose to come back. In the meantime, the April 5 deadline gives us some boundaries to work with, but certainly we are not set on that. I would urge you to contact my colleagues in housing about how to work this out in a way that best works for you. We have some flexibility.

What accommodations are in place for Spring 2020 graduates and their ceremony? Would they be permitted to participate in a different ceremony?

Vice President Linder: Of course, yes. As I mentioned before, it was a really sad decision we had to make to cancel the spring ceremony. We invite and welcome those who are eligible to walk this spring to participate in one of our other upcoming ceremonies when we get through this crisis.

For people who had overseas classes for the summer who bought plane tickets or other fees not covered by the University, will we be refunded as airlines are reluctant to refund the tickets? And could you use scholarship earned for the summer session to pay for what was subsequently taken away because the abroad classes were cancelled?

Senior Vice President Storrs: The study abroad advisors have done a fantastic job of working with all of our students studying abroad to get them home, and we’ve worked with providers and airlines to find tickets for them to get home. It was quite a challenge given what was happening across the globe. We’ve also said to students that our first priority was to get you home safely. Our second priority is to get your academic needs met, which means we have to find you some courses here on campus or through our collaborative system – in the NDUS system – and we’re doing that. We’re in correspondence with each student now with their advisor. The third piece that we want to address is the financial challenge that you might have incurred as a result of having to fly back immediately. We’ve said to document that and we will work with each one of you to address those fiscal challenges. We will be in touch very soon to figure out how do we help you through that process. But that was the order of priorities: Your health and safety, your academics and then the third is the fiscal piece.

Will UND be ending the semester early?

Provost DiLorenzo: No. We don’t have any intentions of changing the ending of the semester at this point. Continue to work throughout the semester according to what you’re received on your Blackboard sites. We anticipate ending the same time.

If an international student has a travel ban back to their home country, how can UND support those students, especially with housing?

Vice President Halgren: The message to students continues to be that the residence halls and the apartments are open. Certainly, to support social distancing and respond to COVID-19, we are looking to flatten the curve and have fewer people here in Grand Forks. And, if possible, have students continue to work remotely. But we know that not all students are able to do that. If students need to stay in Grand Forks, we will work with you, and we welcome you here, either in our residence halls or apartments.

How will the medical school be administering exams?

Interim President Wynne: Right. I can’t answer that question. I have been preoccupied, if you will, with the duties as interim president. And we have an update meeting on that very question later this week, but at this time, I can’t answer that specifically.

Will expanded availability of test proctoring be available during this time?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: We are not expanding our use of Proctor U to our remote classes, predominantly because we don’t want to put any pressure on students. We don’t want to make the assumption that students have the equipment necessary that you need for proctoring use or expanding it past the courses that were approved for proctoring. We’re working with your faculty to provide other options for testing through Blackboard or through YuJa. Also, encourage your faculty to think about different kinds of assessments. The world has changed, and faculty are figuring out how best to help you learn and help us to assess your learning. I would ask that student be really open and flexible. Your faculty are trying to figure this out as much as you’re trying to figure it out.

We all share the same vision. We want you to complete your semester. We want you to get a good grade, and we want you to learn the material. And we don’t want to put undue pressure or burden on students in terms of technology they need. We also want to provide faculty with the support they need. So my plea to students is to be flexible, to communicate with their faculty. If you’re not getting any immediate feedback, know that they’re coping with their world, too. Contact your academic advisor. There’s a team here to help you, and we will figure it out together.

Some of us have kids. How do we test from home with ProctorU when we will have kids present, as well as not have a space set up according to the guidelines of ProctorU?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: Again, I think we need to be flexible in the realities that students are engaged in. They’re juggling many things. I would like you to have a conversation with your faculty member about testing and if you have any challenges, then advisors, the provost or myself, we’re happy to step in and try to negotiate options for you and your faculty. We want to work with you. We want to work with faculty in ProctorU. We can come to some sort of understanding. We just need to know what the situation is. So let your faculty member know, number one, or reach out to your advisor. We have solutions. We have a Teacher Training and Development Academy of professionals who can help support the faculty and support students as well.

For freshman students working toward North Dakota residency, will being off campus for the rest of the semester affect us?

Provost DiLorenzo: We don’t have the answer to this, but we will continue working on it, and we will follow up with this question. Perhaps I can ask Meloney Linder share where we’ll continue to post things in the future.

Vice President Linder: Of course. So we have our Coronavirus Blog, which I mentioned at the beginning of this forum. We’ll be sending out UND announcements in mass mails like we have in the past, and we will then be posting the announcements to the Coronavirus blog. On that blog are also links to other resource pages on campus, such as Aerospace, IT, HR, etc. So if you don’t see the answer to your question on the blog, and it’s specific to Aerospace or it’s an IT question, I encourage you to use links to other pages where we’re able to put additional information.

When will we know how this might affect the fall semester?

Interim President Wynne: One of the critical things in the social distancing approach that’s so important is what we call “flatten the curve.” That is to try to avoid the peak of cases that is occurring right now in New York and had occurred in Italy and had occurred in China and South Korea before they were able to flatten the curve, that is to have new cases of coronavirus – COVID-19 – decrease in frequency. We should know over the next couple of weeks how the United States and North Dakota are doing in that regard, and that will be a very important determinant of what we will be able to do in the future. The other potentially hopeful development – and again I’m wearing my physician hat – the other potentially positive development that we hope will occur this summer is that we typically see a seasonal decrease in viruses like this in the summer months. I’m not sure exactly why that occurs, but were that to occur, that could have a positive impact on decisions going forward. Unfortunately, the answer to your question, as you might anticipate, is time will tell, and we will just have to continue to monitor things. We obviously will be aware of the timing issues and we will try to give you an understanding of what we plan to do for both summer and fall semesters just as soon as we possibly can.

Krisit Okerlund and Orlynn Rosaasen

UND’s Food Pantry will continue to be available, and staff will be available to help students get what they need. UND archival image

Is the Food Pantry available for students who are in need?

Vice President Halgren: It certainly is, and we are grateful for everyone who continues to provide gifts that help the Food Pantry stay in business. Meloney alluded to the COVID-19 blog. There’s some great information about services and programs that are available for students. Information about the Food Pantry is available in one of those emails. You can call the number for the Food Panty and we have colleagues who will meet you there again to make sure you can get whatever you need.

Will field hours in the Teaching and Learning Department be waived for this semester and not have to be made up the following semester?

Provost DiLorenzo: This is really a technical question that you’re going to have to talk about with the dean or the associate deans in the College of Education and Human Development. They are very sensitive to the field hours, and we want to make sure students can graduate and go on for licensure and the rest of the requirements. So they will be the experts in helping you through the field hours.

Should I bother registering for in-person classes for the next fall 2020 semester or should I just do it online? I don’t want to register for an in-person class and then have to end up online.

Senior Vice President Storrs: Registration starts April 6 for our continuing students, but you should register for the courses that you need in consultation with your academic advisor. Again, I can’t predict the future, but we’re hopeful we’ll be able to have you back on campus. We teach fall on the ground, in person and we teach online. And both are quality experiences. I hope that both will be available in the fall. When you register for your courses, you should select your courses based on what will help you graduate and what you need. Talk to your academic advisor.

Why is Parking Services still enforcing lots?

Vice President Shivers: My current understanding – and you can email me if you’re having a different experience – is that parking enforcement has been significantly relaxed. And what they’re really concentrating on are areas such as ADA compliancy, service vehicle-type parking places and maybe just a few others. Generally speaking, other than that, parking enforcement should be relaxed. So if you have a specific experience where, from your perspective, you’re parking in a place that’s not in one of those areas and you got a ticket, email me and I’ll pass it on to the right people and then I’ll keep track and make sure we run it to ground.

Can graduate students having department building keys come into the labs to work if they are having trouble connecting remotely? What if it is a task for which the student has to be physically present in the lab? I am still maintaining social distancing and not gathering in groups. But what if there’s a work-related emergency for which one has to be present in the lab? Thank you so much.

Interim Vice President Mihelich: If it’s a research lab and you’re working with your faculty member, you can work out the times you need to come in and what happens if you need to come in. If it’s a computer lab or another lab where there’s general use, then I’m going to toss the question back over to Tom or maybe Chief Plummer. But again, if you’re a graduate student, the best place to start is with your faculty advisor and/or your department chair to work that out.

Eric Plummer

Police Chief Eric Plummer: I would say only if it’s approved through the department or college working with the Provost’s office, and you’re following established protocols. If access is needed for research, then this can be arranged by contacting the operations center at 701-777-2591. If students are in some of these labs by themselves, I would really encourage you to utilize the safe campus phone app. It does contain a work-alone and study-alone feature to assist in providing any kind of safety support and even an emergency.

Is this closure going to affect accreditation with different disciplines, such as nursing or social work?’ Would there be extra flexibility for those who are on internships?

Vice Provost Storrs: There are different kinds of accreditation. The whole university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission – HLC. We’ve been working very closely with them. They’re dealing with a number of institutions that they oversee and accredit. They have been providing unusual flexibility in light of the very unusual situation. The deans of every college are working with their own accrediting bodies to ensure that the choices they make to accommodate students are approved by their accrediting bodies. So I think we’re going to be fine because we’re communicating with our accrediting bodies. We’re getting feedback and we’re documenting. It’s an important thing and I have no concerns. I see Josh has his thumb up to add to that.

Interim President Wynne: Let me just give you a national perspective in one discipline, but I think it’s true of everything that Senior Vice Provost Storrs just said. I sit on the national board that accredits medical schools across the United States and Canada called the LCME, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. We have been in touch with all the 156 medical schools in the United States to indicate just that. That as long as they let the LCME know about the accommodations that are being instituted, we’re going to allow great flexibility in allowing that to go forward because of the complexity of this situation. At UND, we’re now doing that through all of our programs, including the HLC, to make sure that we make them aware. That’s the critical component. But now speaking from the UND and the national perspective, I think the answer to the question is pretty unequivocal. We do not anticipate any problems from an accreditation standpoint.

Are any international students allowed to move back into the dorms? When is the deadline for items to be removed from the dorms?

Vice President Halgren: Certainly international students – or any student for that matter – can move back into the residence halls. In terms of a deadline, we have not established one for students to move their items out of the residence halls. I would suggest that if students are having difficulties, that they should contact the Housing Office and we can work something out.

Have you seen the banner article written by Brad Schlossman and has there been any debate on raising a banner to recognize the work by this year’s hockey team?

Bill Chaves

Bill Chaves

Athletic Director Bill Chaves: The hockey team had a great year, for sure. I did see the article. Brad Schlossman actually just won an award today, so congratulations to Brad. You know, we’ve got to provide closure for a lot of our sports teams, hockey being one of them. We haven’t made that decision at this point in time. Great suggestions though, for sure. We’ll keep that in mind.

How is UND advocating for graduate students who got pulled from their field work that is required for their graduation in May?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: I’m not sure what kind of field work it could be. It could be the sciences. It could be education. It could be in nursing. I’m not quite sure what discipline. But because of COVID-19 and outside of UND, institutions are making decisions about not accepting students at their locations. Our teams are working really hard with their faculty to identify the pathway to complete their requirements. We’re all still figuring this out. We’re asking the deans to work on that and communicate to their students. So I ask for your patience while we work with the deans to find options, and they’re all very actively engaged.

For incoming medical students, and if July 6h is the date for when the travel ban is lifted, when will students be able to apply or move into student housing?

Vice President Halgren: I think it’ll depend on what kind of student housing the person is interested in, whether it’s an apartment or a residence hall. I need to check into that one a little bit more and we’ll make sure that information is available online for students. If anyone wants to call the Housing Office directly, I would encourage them to do that.

Will you be allowing students to quarantine within the residence halls? What is the current plant for students that need to quarantine, not just if they have COVID-19, but also for those who have traveled domestically and need to quarantine regardless for 14 days?

Chief Plummer: Based on our pandemic plan, we have locations on campus identified for self-quarantine, as well as self-isolation. We also have procedures in place for feeding those in these self-quarantine or self-isolated locations. We encourage those students to work with Student Health to make sure they are meeting their medical needs.

What tutoring is available for classes such as math, and will it cost anything?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: We offer tutoring now at no cost. It used to be in person. So now our tutoring services will have to occur virtually, and I’ll be working with our tutoring services to provide that. Tutoring is offered in courses that are particularly challenging, math and the sciences. I’ll work with our learning specialists. So please look at the tutoring website. We’ll be posting information about that.

Note: A staff member later emailed to say that they are offering tutoring via Zoom. Please contact tutoring services.

Why are we continuing lab classes when we are losing out on the use of the labs? What is being done to ensure the quality of the remote delivery of instruction?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: Let me answer the lab question first. Labs are really important because they supplement what’s happening in the lecture. Of course, now that everything is being done virtually, we have to be creative. And the faculty, chairs and the deans are working on creative options. Everything from, for example, a faculty member showing an actual lab experiment while students are watching it, which is different from how we normally did it, but at least it’s the actual display of the lab phenomenon. So that’s an example of how faculty are trying to be creative and accommodate that. Others are considering having students do mini labs in their own spaces using lab supplies they can buy or have sent to them. Again, we’re being creative about that.

The second question was what are we doing about the quality of instruction. As I noted earlier, many of our faculty have online and remote experience teaching. Some of them do not, and so they’re getting a lot of support from our teaching academy on how to do things effectively. Again, I ask for your patience as they’re learning ow to accommodate to this very different environment. But we’re coaching, we’re supporting, we’re answering questions that they have. That’s how we’re trying to help support out faculty. We also are encouraging faculty to communicate to students if things are delayed or they’re modified. And they will be modifying things in this new environment through Blackboard. If you get on Blackboard and you don’t have any information from your faculty, reach out to them via email. You can always check with your advisor. If you’re not getting communication, the faculty are also challenged with their own situations. They have children as well. They’re coping with the new environment as well. I just ask for your patience, but we are trying to provide faculty with as much support as they need. I do want to say that we have a number of faculty that have lots of experience teaching in this fashion, and they’re also supporting their colleagues.

Q. Given that we will not be returning to our residence halls on campus, will mail be forwarded to my home address? How that will be handled?

Wilkerson Service Center staff: The basic answer for students who’d like UND to forward their mail is this: Log in to Campus Connection and update your address. If staff at the receiving center see that the address has been changed, they can get the mail back to the campus mail center to be forwarded.

If students have a specific question or a special need, they’re welcome to email Diane Fore, administrative officer at Wilkerson Hall, at diane.fore@und.edu. Wilkerson Service Center staff are making sure people who eventually come to campus, and check out, stop by the service center to pick up any mail that’s being held.

Is there a place where students can ask questions?

Vice President Linder: Follow the Coronavirus Updates blog at our und.edu website. We have the emergency orange banner, which is the flag we use for closings due to bad weather. We have a link to the Coronavirus Blog there now. Go to the blog site and in the footer, there’s an area where you can submit questions that may come to us after this forum or things we didn’t get to today. The email address is und.informationrequest.und.edu. At that blog site, you can also sign up for alerts. Every time there’s a change or an update to the blog, you will automatically be alerted.

What about summer courses? When will it be posted whether they’ll be online or on ground?

Senior Vice Provost Storrs: We haven’t made that final decision, but the deans are working on what’s planned for summer, what’s needed for students to complete their degrees and graduate. We’re being very thoughtful about the summer offerings. In light of the unknown, we are urging faculty to consider how we might prepare to teach remotely and online if we have to. We have a little bit of time before summer registration happens April 6. So be on the lookout for what we offer.