• Fall 2020 FAQ

Updated November 20, 2020

This page is regularly updated. Check back for the most current information, email specific questions to [email protected], and visit the Safe Campus website for more University information.

Be well. Be prepared.

Community safety for residents and staff is a top priority.

Living on campus is a core part of the University of Minnesota experience and we are committed to fostering safe and inclusive housing for all residents. Things will look different this year. We’ll all share in the responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19, from wearing masks to respecting physical distancing, limiting large gatherings, and staying in if we don’t feel well. Residential health and safety efforts are rooted in the most current science and based on guidance from federal, state and local health authorities.  

This continues to be a dynamic situation as well as a stressful time for many members of our community. We are all in this together. Be respectful and kind to one another.

Step Three: Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan

The Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan describes expectations for students living in University residence halls. As of October 13, residence hall students are in Step Three of the Plan. Find more information and FAQs on housing.umn.edu/mg-sunrise

Fall & Winter Breaks

This is a dangerous phase of this pandemic, and testing for COVID-19 is a key part of controlling the spread. Many people are spreading the virus before they know they have it, and even small groups have risk. Get tested and keep doing your part to slow the spread and protect your campus and home communities. We encourage everyone to:

  • Know the facts: You risk infection when you travel or gather with people you do not live with. Before traveling, find out COVID-19 rates in that community.
  • Make a plan: Talk with your family about holiday plans to limit exposure and reduce transmission of COVID-19.
  • Lay low before you go: During the two weeks before traveling, lay low. Avoid all group gatherings where COVID-19 guidelines are not practiced.

No matter where you are between Thanksgiving and the start of the spring semester, remember that community spread is most likely to happen in gatherings of all sizes. Protect yourself and others by washing hands, masking, and staying six feet apart. See the Twin Cities Campus Winter Break Guide for additional tips, resources, and campus information.

Remember to also review any requirements for checking out of your room in the Fall 2020 Closing Guide

Visit z.umn.edu/covidreport for the most up-to-date information on what to do if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to COVID-19

Slow the spread

Remember, those who contract COVID-19 are infectious beginning 48 hours before they develop symptoms—and some people never develop symptoms. DO NOT wait until you receive a positive test result to inform the University of your symptoms or exposure to an individual with COVID-19. Remain as isolated as possible in your assigned room to avoid spreading illness until you receive your test results and further direction from health professionals.

Quickly moving into isolation or quarantine housing is essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community, and University staff are here to support you. Current residents who are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness of any kind—with fever and cough—should:

Learn more about the On-Campus Student process and testing options from Boynton/MTest.

Health & Safety

What happens if a resident becomes ill?

Housing & Residential Life works in close partnership with Boynton Health to address cases of COVID-19 that arise in our residential communities. Boynton Health is also one of the approved testing centers for the State of Minnesota. 

We strongly recommend students and families make a contingency plan now in the event they are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19. Any student currently living in on-campus housing who is feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness of any kind—with fever and cough—should:

Review the On-Campus Student Flowchart to see the full process and key terms.

Positive COVID Cases

Boynton will work with Housing & Residential Life if a student receives a positive test result or is confirmed to have been in close contact with someone with a positive COVID case. We will follow isolation and quarantine guidance from the CDC, MN Department of Health, and Boynton Health. We have reserved on-campus isolation and quarantine spaces with private bedrooms and bathrooms.

We will work with you to determine the best housing option and the next steps to support you. The best solution will depend on many factors. For some students, going to their family residence off campus may be the best and safest location for them to isolate themselves and receive any necessary care. For others who may be from out of town or for whom on-campus housing is their safest residence, you may be asked to isolate in your room. The University may also find you a different on-campus or near-campus housing option during your isolation period so you can avoid spreading COVID-19 to others. 

What can I do to be as safe as possible in my building?

All campus health and safety efforts will be based on the most current science as well as guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. Visit the Safe Campus website for details on the campus wide measures to be taken and the requirements being put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to COVID-19, there will likely be members of our community with common colds, influenza, or other illnesses over the course of the semester. Remind yourself and others to slow the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses by practicing good health habits and wearing masks.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Keep a supply of hand sanitizer (as possible).
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
  • Clean all high touch areas in your room or apartment.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid crowded areas and maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others.
  • Wear a face covering (mask) when inside a campus building and when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Get adequate rest and eat well.
  • Stay home if you are sick. Self-isolate and contact Boynton Health or another healthcare provider for guidance.

If you can, plan to bring a personal thermometer, so you can monitor your health. Everyone’s “normal” temperature is different but if you notice significant changes this may indicate the start of illness. Generally, anything over 100.4F/38C would indicate a fever.

Are face coverings (masks) required in my building?

Effective July 1, all University of Minnesota students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to use a cloth face covering (mask) at all times when in any enclosed or indoor spaces on campus. 

While there is an exception when you're inside your assigned on-campus residence hall or apartment, face coverings are required in all common spaces (hallways, bathrooms, dining, etc.). Face coverings are also required inside assigned rooms if any guests are in the space (following the guest policy) and if building staff need to enter to fulfill maintenance or other requests.

Additional campus exceptions:

  • When eating or drinking; however, physical distancing must be practiced.
  • When you are alone in a room or where a posted and official University notice indicates masks are not needed.
  • When you are alone in a motor vehicle.
  • If you are unable to wear a face covering while exercising at Rec Well or Athletics facilities.
  • In labs or other places that instead require use of a respirator.
  • If you require accommodations for health or disability reasons. On the Twin Cities campus, the Disability Resource Center can help identify needed accommodations.

The University's full face covering protocol can be found at the Return to Campus website

See additional detailed FAQ about face coverings in residential spaces below.

How will we practice distancing in my building?

To slow the spread of the COVID-19, it is critical that we all do our part to keep physically apart from each other, or “socially distance.” This means staying at least 6 feet away from others.

We know that you may still want to connect with others living in your building, but remember to maintain appropriate social distancing at all times. Be mindful, respectful, and use good judgement for you and your neighbor’s benefit.

You will also notice posted occupancy numbers for common spaces. These are determined based on official guidance for the safety of all residents. If you develop any cold-like or COVID-19 symptoms, do your best to isolate and avoid using community spaces.

What is the University's testing plan?

To best prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, all members of the University community should maintain physical distancing, wear face coverings, and practice good health habits. In addition to these proven public health measures, the University implemented the systemwide MTest protocol to identify and test individuals who are symptomatic or have had confirmed exposure to a positive case of COVID-19 (being within six feet of a positive individual for at least 15 minutes).

At this time, widespread testing of non-symptomatic individuals is not recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health or by the University’s public health team. We have seen other institutions experience rapid COVID-19 spread despite broad-based entry testing for those entering on-campus housing, which illustrates that COVID-19 testing only provides a snapshot of a moment in time. An individual infected with COVID-19 can still have a negative test result due to the timing of the testing process. 

Additionally, a negative test result can create a false sense of security, leading to lapses in true prevention measures that include physical distancing, consistent use of face coverings, and personal hygiene such as frequent hand washing.

Any student currently living in on-campus housing who is feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness of any kind—with fever and cough—should:

Review the On-Campus Student Flowchart to see the full process and key terms.

How will the dining centers work?

The M Dining team has worked with the Minnesota Department of Health and the University Health and Safety team to implement recommended precautions while continuing to provide students with flexible and convenient meal options. One of the important measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 is for students to only visit their assigned dining center. Students must use the OpenTable reservation system whether dining in or taking their meal to go. This system improves physical distancing, manages room occupancy, and decreases wait times.

Check the M Dining site for updates and for more information on special diets. Visit Dining & Meal Plans for the latest information on fall plans and rates.

To Go Containers
Students who have a required meal plan as part of their housing contract will be provided a reusable to go box, silverware and beverage container at the start of the school year for flexibility in where meals can be taken. Students will have the option to take their meal outside the facility to eat outside, in your room, lounge, etc. or dine in if seating is available. Seating will be limited in the dining halls to maintain physical distancing. 

Traffic Flow
Dining is redesigning the traffic flow and food stations at all of the dining halls. The goal is to ensure six feet of physical distance between people and to move everyone safely through the lines as quickly as possible.  

  • Students should either wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the dining area. Hand sanitizer will be provided near entrances.
  • As students enter the dining hall, they will show their U Card to the greeter and tap/wave their card on the contactless reader. 
  • Each dining hall will have floor markings to indicate the path students should follow and as a visual guide for physical distancing.
  • To keep the traffic flowing and physical space between people, we ask you to not congregate in the serving area. 
  • When leaving the dining area, student will use marked exits to maintain physical distancing.  

Safety Requirements
When visiting your dining center, please ensure you are adhering to the following required safety guidelines:

  • Follow all signage, decals noting where you may sit, and stay at least six feet from others, with the exception of dining with your roommate.
  • Do not move tables and chairs.
  • Wear a face covering and only remove it to eat or drink. Be sure to put your face covering on after you are done eating and as you exit the area.
  • Use clean to-go containers when revisiting the food stations. Dirty containers may be exchanged for a clean one at the dining entrance.
  • Limit your dining time at tables to 30 minutes. Exit as soon as you are done with your meal to free up space for other diners.
  • Do not wait for seating. If no seats are available, you will need to exit the dining center with your meal. 
  • Sit at a table with a green “clean” disk and flip the disk to “dirty” as you are leaving; this will signal to our staff that the table is ready for to be cleaned and sanitized

How are you cleaning buildings?

We are following guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and will continue to adjust as new information emerges. Staff are cleaning high traffic points even more frequently than usual, including door handles, handrails, water filling stations, elevators, dining locations, laundry facilities, etc. 

Community bathrooms are cleaned by building custodians on a routine basis with increased frequency. As an additional preventive measure, some sinks will be deactivated to support distancing in community bathrooms. 

We will provide disinfectant cleaner in laundry rooms, community kitchens and computer labs for resident use between professional cleaning and sanitation. Hand sanitizer will also be provided in high traffic areas such as building lobbies as well as in or near single-user restrooms.

This is a shared responsibility. Please do your part to keep your spaces clean and to avoid sharing spaces and/or equipment. Note: Surfaces within private living areas and private bathrooms are cleaned by the residents of those units. 

Find more information about University cleaning procedures, hand sanitizer availability and other guidance by visiting Facilities Management’s site.

Face Coverings (Masks)

Are face coverings required if I have guests in my room?

The University’s face covering protocol requires use of face coverings at all times when in any enclosed or indoor space on University campuses and properties. While the protocol includes an exception for roommates inside their assigned room, face coverings are required for everyone in the room when guests are present to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Additionally, maximum occupancy rules, including those outlined in the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan, should always be followed within residential spaces. 

Are face coverings required if I am in my room (alone or with my roommate) and the door is open?

You do not need to wear a face covering as long as you are not closer than 6ft from the open door.  If someone comes to your doorway to speak with you, you should put on a face covering. 

What are the requirements if I am in a lounge?

If you are alone in a community room with a closed door (e.g. small study room) you do not need to wear a face covering. You should have a face covering with you to wear if someone comes to the door.

You should wear a face covering if you are in a lounge with no door or an open door where anyone could walk into at any point to protect yourself and others.

Eating in community spaces

You may remove your face covering to eat or drink. The face covering should be removed only for the amount of time it takes to take a bite of food or drink of beverage and then immediately put back on again.  

Do I need to wear a face covering in a community bathroom?

You should wear a face covering while in a community bathroom unless you are actively showering, brushing your teeth, or washing your face. 

Time without a face covering should be minimized as much as possible and physical distancing should be followed whenever possible.

Do I need to wear a face covering if I am only out of my room briefly?

Yes, you need to wear a face covering any time you leave your room, regardless of how long you are out of your room or if anyone else is present (e.g., quickly walking across the hall or going to the water fountain).

Residential Life

How will I stay connected and meet other students?

Limiting in-person contact does not mean you need to be emotionally isolated. We encourage you to set up lots of calls and virtual hangouts with friends and family to ensure you are staying connected to your support network. 

Also, visit the following websites for additional campus resources and to find opportunities to connect with your Golden Gopher community:

Your building team is also here to support your mental health and wellbeing. Your Community Advisor and other staff are an email, phone call, Google hangout, or Zoom meeting away. Students can also call the U of M Crisis Line at 612-301-4673 anytime or text "UMN" to 61222 on evenings and weekends.

What kind of support will I have in my building?

Each building has a dedicated team of people to support you.

  • Each floor has a Community Advisor, an upper division student motivated to help you shape a healthy and unique college experience. 
  • Fellow U of M students staff Information Desks and Tech Lounges
  • On-site staff includes a Business Operations Supervisor, a Residence Director and Assistant Residence Director (who both live in the building), and a facilities team.

We recognize this time of social isolation and heightened health fears can take a toll. We have staff in each building who are an email, phone call, Google hangout, or Zoom meeting away. Students can also call the U of M Crisis Line at 612-301-4673 anytime or text "UMN" to 61222 on evenings and weekends.

Additional campus resources below:

What policies are in place and where can I learn more?

Our Community Behavioral Standards reflect a respect for the rights and responsibilities needed to foster engaged and inclusive community living experiences. Our staff partners with residents to create a culture where students can communicate with each other about concerns regarding noise and other personal behaviors. This includes respecting the University's new face covering requirements and physical distancing guidelines.

Residents who violate these standards, go through the Housing Student Conduct process and may be sanctioned. This process is designed to be educational rather than punitive and emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility, the value of fairness, and the crucial role of honesty for all members of the University community. 

We encourage all students to know their rights and what is expected of them as residents. Review updated policies on the Community Behavioral Standards web page, including more information on overnight guests (20), posted regulations (23), health and safety (30), and maximum occupancy (31).

Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan

Plan expectations such as restrictions regarding guests supersede Housing & Residential Life’s community policies. Your housing contract requires you to abide by all University policies, rules, or regulations, including those outlined in the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan (section 23). 

We expect students to follow the Plan as the best way to keep themselves and others safe and healthy, with the understanding that disciplinary action may be taken when expectations are not met.

Contracts & Assignments

Will my contract or rates change this year?

Move-In Delay 

Per the Board of Regents 8/24 decision, move-in for residence hall students will be delayed by at least two weeks. Prorated credits for housing and dining charges will be issued to all impacted contract holders.

Residence hall students may submit an online request to arrive prior to the new move-in period. Requests will only be considered for the most extenuating circumstances (e.g. international flights, those without a safe alternative, students with in-person instruction prior to the new move-in period). All requests are subject to approval. All existing early arrival approvals are under review and you may need to file a new request.

Contract Period

All updates to the 2020-2021 contract were finalized July 1, 2020. August 14 is the initial deadline for students assigned to residence halls to select either the shortened (ending 11/25) or full (ending 12/23) semester contract period. The full semester contract period is the default.

Log in to review or change your selection.

Your housing and meal plan charges will be visible on your student account the week of August 15. These charges will be on your September 7 billing statement. Students have the option to change their contract period through November 1, though changes after August 14 may impact financial aid disbursement. 

Residential meal plans are required for students assigned to residence halls. Residents with the Full Semester contract period will have the option of having a meal plan from November 29 – December 23, though it is not required during this period. 

Helpful links

Will I have roommates this year?

In order to support physical distancing, some rooms will be assigned fewer occupants. Both single and double rooms will be available in residence halls with no more than two people occupying rooms. Visit housing.umn.edu/move-in to review how to connect with your roommates, what to bring (and what NOT to bring), important dates, and more.

Creating a positive living experience for you and your roommates takes forethought and good communication during the most ideal circumstances, and these skills will be even more important this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Visit Living with Roommates for more.

Changes to Your Space

We’ve taken steps to help roommates share living spaces successfully while mitigating risks associated with COVID-19. All adjustments are based on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). 

  • Rooms were measured to ensure there is enough space to maintain the recommended 6 feet of physical distance while occupying your room at the same time as your roommate.
  • Beds are placed so you’ll be able to sleep with your head at least 6 feet away from your roommate.
  • Do your part to keep personal spaces clean by keeping a supply of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies in your room. 
  • Enhanced cleaning and signage in common areas will help remind community members about safety outside your room

The 2020-2021 Community Behavioral Standards include a policy on maximum occupancy for your room or apartment:

  • If you live in a single, your room’s maximum occupancy is 3. 
  • If you live in a double, your room’s maximum occupancy is 6.
  • If you live in Keeler, Radius, Wilkins, or Yudof, the maximum occupancy for your entire apartment is 10.

You are responsible for making sure you do not have any more than the maximum number of occupants in your room or apartment at any given time. Note: While masks are not required if only you and your roommate are present, masks must be worn by all present if there are guests in your space.

Can I cancel or defer my contract to spring semester?

If you have determined that you are no longer interested in living on campus this fall, contact us as soon as possible. We are happy to discuss your options to cancel your housing and dining contract or defer your contract to spring semester. For those considering deferring to spring semester, please know you may not receive the same assignment. Refer to the 2020-21-contract to see which terms and provisions may apply to you.

We previously extended the deadline for new first-year students to cancel their housing contract and receive a refund of their $200 guarantee payment until the first day of in-person classes. For cancellations, visit housing.umn.edu/cancel. To defer to spring, email [email protected].

    • Xenophobia & Bias

      Disease does not discriminate and racist behavior or stereotyping is not tolerated.

      If you experience harassment or discrimination, reach out to your Community Advisor or your building’s Residence Director. You can also report to the Bias Response and Referral Network.

      Our Community Behavioral Standards reflect a respect for the rights and responsibilities needed to foster engaged and inclusive community living experiences.

    • Parent Information

      Looking for updates? Stay in touch with the latest information from Housing and others by signing up for some of these following parent-focused emails.

      Housing & Residential Life

      M Dining

      Parent & Family Program