UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

President Armacost: To minimize travel, ‘go home once’

Here’s how students, families, faculty and staff can stay safe, classes can continue, and UND can finish the semester strong

Dear UND Community,

As we head into the Thanksgiving Break, I want to share a few thoughts about how we’ll finish the semester.

The novel coronavirus still has its grip on Grand Forks. The Governor’s recent measures reflect the gravity of what we are facing. We have seen the impact of these types of measures on our campus, as masking, distancing, hygiene, and testing all have positive consequences. We’ve knocked down two spikes since July, but this latest spike has been tougher.

As we move toward Thanksgiving, we are emphasizing “Go Home Once” to minimize travel and reduce infections, and we ask students to do one of the following:

• Students with campus requirements after Thanksgiving for any fall classes or employment should avoid traveling at Thanksgiving. Students are encouraged to stay in Grand Forks, be safe, and finish the semester strong. Once the fall semester is over, return home to visit with family and friends, and return to Grand Forks in January. This includes all students enrolled in any class that requires physical attendance including flight training, aviation labs, students with clinical labs, and students in other course specific labs. Students should reach out to their instructors if they have questions.

• Students with all-online courses who choose to travel outside Grand Forks for Thanksgiving should finish the semester away from campus and return to Grand Forks at the start of the spring semester. If students live in the residence halls, they can keep personal items in their room until they return in January. While there will be no residence hall refunds, students who do not return after Thanksgiving will receive a 5% dining refund, consistent with NDUS policy.

• Students who have all online courses and wish to stay in Grand Forks after Thanksgiving are welcome to do so but should avoid traveling at Thanksgiving. We realize some students may choose this option because of access to technology, employment, connection with others, support systems, and critical services.

Other relevant factors for the remaining weeks of the fall semester include:

• All finals will be online. There are no exceptions. If faculty have received a previous exception, this is no longer an option as we want students to return home as soon as possible.

• For students graduating this December, our Commencement ceremony will be virtual. We will make it as special as possible as we know this is an important accomplishment for students and their families.

• Remote work by UND staff members should be accommodated whenever possible. Driving factors are the intent to de-densify workspaces and the decision by Grand Forks Public Schools to go entirely online following Thanksgiving.

Spring semester classes will start as planned on Jan. 11. The University is having ongoing discussions regarding the safety of our campus and will continue to communicate more information in the upcoming days.

These are, indeed, challenging times. It is incumbent upon each of us to look out for the emotional and mental well-being of our friends, classmates, and co-workers. Stress levels this time of year on college campuses are already high, and throwing COVID into the mix makes it even worse. We have critical resources at the ready, including the University Counseling Center for students and the Employee Assistance Program for our faculty and staff. Let’s finish this semester strong, supporting each other as one community.

With respect,

Andy Armacost