Humphrey School Updates on COVID-19

Help stop the spread of COVID-19

UPDATE: University of Minnesota announces return to campus for Fall 2021 Semester.

The following FAQ is based on information from UMN President Joan Gabel and Humphrey School leadership. For the latest University-wide COVID-19 updates for students, faculty, and staff, visit the Safe Campus page. For updates on University-wide plans for the 2020–21 academic school year, visit the Return to Campus website.

If you questions you feel should be addressed in this FAQ, please email them to [email protected]. We will update this page as needed.

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Will we return to campus in Fall 2021?

The University of Minnesota announced on Friday, March 12 that all of its campuses (Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities) are planning to return to fully on-campus operations this fall (Fall 2021).

Read more on their website.

Will I be required to wear a mask on campus?

Yes, for the health of our entire community, any person on the University of Minnesota campus will be required to wear a mask.

For more information on this decision and any exceptions to the mask requirement, please read the message President Joan Gabel sent to all students, staff, and faculty on June 29, 2020.

You can also read more on the decision to require face masks on the Return to Campus webpage.

Students: What do I do if someone else is not wearing a mask?

The University expects the University community to behave responsibly with respect for the health and safety of others. Any employee, student, or visitor who fails to abide with this directive may be asked or directed to leave the campus space. Faculty, staff, and students who are directed to leave a campus space for failure to comply with these guidelines may be taken off duty and/or subject to disciplinary action.

Employees and students should not attempt to directly enforce this directive but instead should share any concerns of suspected violations with their immediate supervisor or appropriate school official.

Faculty: A student in my class is not wearing a face covering. What should I do?

Note: This information comes from the University of Minnesota's Return to Campus website. Additional information is on that site.

  1. Talk with the student privately to see if they have a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. 
  2. If the student refuses, the professor can ask the student to leave for the class session. 
  3. Following the class session, the instructor will follow up with an email to the student reiterating expectations (including a reminder of the University face covering expectations, the Teaching and Learning: Student Responsibilities, and the Student Conduct Code). The instructor will reiterate that participating in the class will require use of a face covering unless they have worked with the Disability Resource Center on accommodations. The instructor will also let the student know that if this happens again, the student will be asked to leave class and the instructor will submit a report to the Office for Community Standards
  4. If a second offense occurs,* the instructor will ask the student to leave class and the instructor will submit a report to the Office for Community Standards (OCS). An OCS staff member will send the student a non-disciplinary warning letter for the second offense stating that if the student does not comply with the directive to wear a face covering, they will be charged with a violation of the Student Conduct Code. Students are allowed back to class after this warning letter is sent.

*There may be instances in which a student forgets to wear their face covering more than one time. It is up to the instructor’s discretion to determine if the student is unwilling to comply or simply forgot and needs a subsequent reminder. At any point, the instructor is encouraged to have an educational conversation if the student repeatedly forgets but willfully complies when reminded.

  1. If subsequent offenses occur, the student will be asked to leave the class and charged with subdivisions 2 and/or 4 of the Student Conduct Code: 
    • Subd. 2. Disruption of Academic Environment. Disruption of the academic environment means engaging in behavior that substantially or repeatedly interrupts either the instructor’s ability to teach and/or a student’s ability to learn.
    • Subd. 4. Refusal to Identify and Comply. Refusal to identify and comply means willfully refusing to or falsely identifying one’s self or willfully failing to comply with a proper order or summons when requested by law enforcement personnel, by emergency medical staff responding to an emergency, or by a University employee acting within the purview off their job responsibilities.
  2. Students would need to attend a meeting with the Office for Community Standards before returning to class after a subsequent incident. Disciplinary sanctions could be utilized. 

Faculty: What do I do if a student in one of my in-person classes tests positive for COVID-19?

Note: This guidance comes from the Provost's office.

The steps we are taking to reduce campus density, maintain 6-feet physical distancing, require face coverings, and make testing available, among other protocols, are designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to limit opportunities for exposure.

Despite all of our best efforts, members of our community may contract COVID-19. If a student discloses they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been notified of a COVID-19 exposure, or if you believe there has been a potential exposure in a classroom, lab, studio, advising office, or any learning or student life space, this online guidance document describes the process you should follow. (You can also view and download this pdf).

Please note especially these critical guidelines:

  • When a student discloses they have tested positive for COVID-19 or been notified of a COVID-19 exposure, faculty, instructors, and staff must closely follow Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines as directed by the University’s Health Emergency Response Office (HERO).
  • If a student appears to be sick or tells you they may have been exposed to COVID-19 (even if asymptomatic), advise them to contact the Boynton Nurse Line at 612-625-3222 (answered 24/7) or another trusted health care provider, who will provide guidance on testing and isolation/quarantine.
  • If you believe that physical distancing guidelines have not been followed and that there has been a potential exposure, inform your department head/supervisor, who in turn should notify HERO (by contacting Boynton Health, 612-625-3222) to determine if local or state public health investigators should be notified. Exposure is defined as close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more.
  • State and local public health officials are handling all notifications and contact tracing. No member of the University community—except those identified by the University’s HERO and public health officials—is responsible for doing this work, including notifying others of a positive case. In some instances, departments in the University may be asked to assist with this, but this must be specifically requested and guided by HERO, Boynton Health, and/or state and local health officials.
  • Confidentiality of personal health information is paramount. Instructors and staff may not disclose to classes, colleagues, or others that someone is sick, has a positive COVID-19 test, or is in quarantine due to exposure, according to federal and state law.
  • If a student must isolate or quarantine, instructors and staff should arrange accommodations for class participation (regardless of modality), as guided by UMN policy for legitimate absences due to illness. (Refer to the policy and related FAQs for guidance). A student in isolation or quarantine should not be referred to the Disability Resource Center (DRC), but any preexisting accommodations requested via the DRC should continue to be provided.
  • Instructors should not unilaterally change the modality of a class before receiving guidance by health investigators and consulting with your department chair/unit head at a minimum and others as appropriate. Departments should also engage HERO, collegiate deans, and the provost.
  • Supporting our commitment to providing an effective learning and research environment while taking steps that reduce the spread of COVID-19, all members of the University community must comply with University public health guidelines and directives including physical distancing in all settings and wearing face coverings in all indoor settings (with limited exceptions).

Please reach out directly to your department head or supervisor if you have any questions about these guidelines or other concerns. For guidelines related to potential or confirmed cases of COVID-19 among faculty and staff, department heads and supervisors should refer to information conveyed earlier this month by the Office for Human Resources and posted on this resource page.

Staff: A faculty or staff member that I supervise is not wearing a mask or other face covering. What should I do?

Note: This information comes from the University of Minnesota's Return to Campus website. Additional information is on that site.

Meet with the individual one-on-one and have a private, respectful conversation in which you explain the face covering requirement. If the person has a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering or they otherwise wish to seek accommodations, they should consult with their human resources representative or contact Disability Resource Center/UReturn to explore potential alternatives. If there is no medical condition or disability, provide them with a mask and request that they start to wear it immediately. If the staff or faculty member has another reason such as religious objection, they should contact Human Resources, which will work with them to determine what accommodations may be possible.

If a faculty or staff member refuses to wear a face covering, their supervisor should first support the individual’s ability to cooperate with face covering guidelines through education/coaching and problem solving, such as explaining the benefits of face coverings, and providing a mask to an employee who has forgotten a face covering or was unable to purchase one. If staff or faculty continue to refuse, supervisors must deal with this as a performance or misconduct issue.

What can I do to promote a healthy learning environment?

Steps we all will need to take to stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.
  • Properly wash hands and keep you work/learning areas clean.
  • Maintain physical distancing.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • Check your temperature each morning and evening.
  • For students: tell your instructors if you have any fever or COVID-19 symptoms.
  • For employees: tell your supervisor or HR representative if you have any fever or COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Stay home if you feel sick.
  • Practice kindness and patience.

In addition, read President Gabel's Spring 2021 Guide for Returning to Campus.

Will classes be offered in-person or online this spring?

The University will offer a mix of in-person, hybrid, and remote instruction and re-open residence halls, dining facilities, and other campus services for the spring 2020 semester in a manner consistent with public health guidelines. 

At the Humphrey School, we have reviewed each of our 80+ courses at the Humphrey School to determine which are the best fit for in-person instruction, which will work best online, and which might be delivered in an even more flexible format with simultaneous in-person and remote participation. We are working with our instructors, reviewing classroom capacity to meet social distancing requirements, and exploring technology options, to make decisions that will help to keep you safe and offer a meaningful learning experience.  

Students will receive notification if a course that they are registered for moves to an online format or a hybrid format with a combination of online and in-person instruction. For those of you who will be taking courses in a remote instruction format, we are eager to offer ways to build connections with the instructor, your fellow students, and the Humphrey School community. If you wish to make adjustments to your schedule based on changes in instruction mode or for other reasons, there is definitely flexibility to do so.  We are available to work with each student individually to find courses and teaching modes that best align with needs and preferences.

What should I do if a class I need to take is only offered in person and I do not feel comfortable taking in-person classes?

We will work with you to help you find courses and teaching modes that best align with your needs and preferences. If you find yourself in this scenario and need assistance planning your spring schedule, please contact your faculty advisor and/or Joel Mixon, Director of Advising and Retention, at [email protected].

I live with high-risk people, but my course is only offered in person. What should I do?

We will work with you to help you find courses and teaching modes that best align with your needs and preferences. If you find yourself in this scenario and need assistance planning your spring schedule, please contact your faculty advisor and/or Joel Mixon, Director of Advising and Retention, at [email protected].

What steps is the Humphrey School taking to ensure it is safe to return to the building?

Regular housekeeping practices are being enhanced by University facilities management teams, including frequent cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas such as door handles, railings, and elevator panels. Find more information about cleaning procedures, hand sanitizer availability and other guidance by visiting Facilities Management’s site.

We are working with the Office of Classroom Management to assign courses to classrooms that are large enough to accommodate students in compliance with public health guidelines for social distancing.  We are exploring social distancing requirements and configurations for common spaces in the building that will allow students access between classes. Efforts to offer remote instruction will reduce the number of students in the building at any given time.   

Will the computer lab be open?

Shared computer lab spaces will be closed and students will be offered access to specialized software via remote desktop access. Courses with lab sections will be offered in a remote format. If you have any questions or concerns about technology access related to your spring classes, please reach out to Diana Beck, Academic Programs Director, at [email protected].

Will I be able to use meeting spaces in the building for working on coursework?

We are working with Humphrey School and UMN facilities staff to develop plans for use of common spaces for use by individual students and student groups. We are gathering feedback from students about their interests and needs as well.

Will I be notified if someone at the school tests positive for COVID-19?

In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), we will not be reporting out incidences of COVID-19 in our building. The University’s Safe Campus site instructs anyone with symptoms to contact their health care provider. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health will contact the patient with additional information.

In the event one or more individuals become sick, we will communicate as early and fully as we are able. We are also putting in place contingency plans, such as moving impacted courses to remote learning environments.

How will events be handled in the building?

All Humphrey School events are currently being conducted in a virtual format.

Humphrey School conference center staff are assessing the possibility of hosting events in the building in accordance with guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. This would mean only holding events in the larger venues that allow for adequate physical distancing. 

What will 2021 commencement look like?

Spring 2021 Commencement will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, May 15th in a virtual format. 

Dean Bloomberg announced the 2021 commencement speaker in her annual State of the School address. This year's speaker will be Keesha Gaskins-Nathan, Program Director for Democratic Practice–United States, at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Read an update email on Commencement plans from Director of Communications Keith Hovis, sent on February 26, 2021 to all students, staff, and faculty. 

Will the libraries be open?

Currently all University libraries are closed, though requests for scans of print materials are being processed now and delivered via email. For updates on key library spaces, please visit the Libraries COVID page.

What spaces can I access when I am on campus between classes?

There are spaces in the Humphrey building and on the West Bank that are available for your use while on campus. Many of these spaces can be used for in-person classes. Each of the Humphrey School spaces will have hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes in the rooms. Please sanitize the space before and after each use. These spaces include:

  • Humphrey School Internal Conference Rooms (available by Google sign-out). These are rooms 131, 173, 175, and 274, located inside the first and second floor office suites. If you are using these spaces after 4:30 p.m., you will need your UCard to access the rooms. Note: These rooms have a capacity of 1, 2, or 3 people depending on room size, and seating is facing forward.

  • Humphrey School Room 40 (available by Google sign-out). There are 16 spaces available, including 3 rooms and 3 cubes each with large monitors, and 10 single-person spaces (electrical outlets are available, but not large monitors). You will need your UCard to access all spaces in Room 40. View available spaces in Room 40 here.

  • Room 50 on the lower level of the Humphrey School is a computer lab and student space open to all University students and includes a printing station. This space is available for walk-in use and is maintained by the Office of Classroom Management.

  • Please note that the Jernberg Lounge (room 10) is closed during spring semester for renovation. Computer labs 80 and 85, the MURP Lab (286 and 290), and the atrium stairway pods are also closed for the semester.

Technology: My personal computer hardware limits my ability to do my coursework or the work that I need to do for my RA/TA position. Does the University have a computer that I could borrow for the semester?

The Humphrey School has a limited number of used desktop computers with displays. To reserve these computers, please email [email protected].

Technology: My home internet access and/or speed is limited and insufficient to meet the demands of the work that I need to do. Is there home internet access available from the University?

The University does not provide home internet access. If you need a new or improved internet plan, some internet service providers are offering free or discounted services for people who qualify. Contact the providers who serve your area to learn more.

If the aforementioned free or discounted services do not work for you and you are able to visit campus, Humphrey School Room 50 and numerous other spaces with campus WiFi access will be available for use. Find them by using the Study Space Finder. If you are unable to visit campus for wifi access, please contact your advisor at [email protected].

Technology: ArcGIS or ArcGIS Pro does not perform well via or remote desktop due to the large files that I’m connecting to over the network. Is there a way to improve performance?

Yes! Copy the ArcGIS file that you wish to work with from its network drive location to your virtual HHH Desktop after logging in via Once it's copied, open it with ArcGIS and do your work. Once your work is completed, save it and copy the file back to the network location. Repeat this process each time. 

If you don’t want to copy and move your file, you do have the option to install ArcGIS on your personal computer or UMN-owned device. To do this, first email [email protected] requesting an ArcGIS code that is good for one year. Install using the code and ArcGIS or ArcGIS Pro instructions. Lastly, install and use VPN, as it’s required for off campus usage as ArcGIS.


Technology: Who do I contact if I’m having trouble using the University-provided technology services required for my coursework or research?

The University’s Technology Help service desk is open 24/7 and available by emailing [email protected], opening a chat session, or calling 612-301-4357 to help with any troubles you may have.

Technology: Are printers available for me to use when I visit the Humphrey School in person?

Printers are available in Humphrey School Room 50. Students may print to the lab printers from their personal devices or by using a lab computer in the room. View updated information on hours of operation and printing instructions.