UMN and Humphrey School Updates on COVID-19

Help Stop the Spread of COVID

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 fall and the start of the 20/21 academic school year, visit the Return to Campus website.

If you have a question you feel should be addressed in this FAQ, please email them to We will update this page as needed.

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 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 fo 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. 

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 fo 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 your 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.

Will classes be offered in person or online this fall?

The University will offer in-person and remote instruction and reopen residence halls, dining facilities, and other campus services for the fall 2020 semester in a manner consistent with public health guidelines. 

At the Humphrey School, we have reviewed each of our 80+ courses 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.

Will classes be offered in person or online spring 2021? 

A decision about spring courses has not been made at this time. As a School, we will continue planning for all scenarios and will communicate as soon as we know more.

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 fall schedule, please contact your faculty advisor and/or Joel Mixon, Director of Advising and Retention.

I live with high-risk people but my course is only offered in person. What do 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 fall schedule, please contact your faculty advisor and/or Joel Mixon, Director of Advising and Retention.

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 fall classes, please reach out to Diana Beck, Academic Programs Director.

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 report 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.