BEMIDJI-- Bemidji State University, Northwest Technical College and 30 other Minnesota State system colleges and universities currently on spring break will suspend classes until March 22.

All events or other gatherings totaling more than 100 attendees are canceled through May 1, after which the situation will be reevaluated.

The announcement came Thursday afternoon to students and staff via an email from Minnesota State system chancellor, Devinder Malhotra.

There will be no classes held during this additional week break.

“While there will be no classes during each campuses’ extra week, administrators, faculty and staff will spend that week exploring alternative modes of delivery and adjust campus learning spaces to ensure the safety of our communities. All campuses, including residence halls, dining facilities and student support services will remain open and appropriately staffed, including student workers,” Malhotra said in the release.

BSU President Faith Hensrud attempted to ease students’ nerves in a statement Thursday.

“I understand how difficult these last few days have been. Both BSU and NTC have taken great effort to communicate with you the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 virus as we understand them at the time. This situation has been extremely fluid, and conditions have changed rapidly — particularly over the last 18 hours. I also understand that this message cannot possibly have answered every question you may have about this developing situation,” she said.

She reminded students that as of the time her email was sent, there have been no COVID-19 cases in Beltrami County. While there are no confirmed local cases, as of Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 14 COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. These cases occurred in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Stearns counties.

Hensrud also encouraged students to stay off-campus if at all possible during the upcoming week.

“Given the intimate living arrangements in our on-campus residence halls, including shared bathrooms, community dining facilities and more, we are asking that our on-campus resident students remain home next week while classes are suspended. We ask that, if at all possible, you do not return to campus until the weekend of March 21-22,” she advised.

Alternate delivery

Andy Bartlett, BSU director for communications and marketing said, “the cancellation of classes for next week is intended to give us opportunities to explore alternative deliveries for all of our classes.”

“That’s not necessarily going to mean that everything’s going to go online, because some things aren’t practical to deliver online, in some cases like hands-on labs, it’s not possible to deliver online. We’re exploring every possible method to alter the delivery methods of our classes,” he said.

Larger classes that cannot be delivered online could possibly be delivered in smaller class sections with fewer students, Bartlett said.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota State system asked all of its 37 colleges and universities to provide a list of all courses currently offered and to measure the ability for those courses to be moved online.

“While I recognize that not all courses and disciplines can move instruction online, we must take seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of our campuses by finding ways to limit in-person interactions. I fully recognize that this may require additional resources and investments to mount an alternative delivery at such a scale,” Malhotra said.

“We are all committed to the success of our students, and want to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on their progress,” he added.

Travel restrictions

BSU and NTC students will also be subjected to additional travel restrictions. All out-of-state business travel for students, faculty and staff will be suspended effective March 16.

International travel related to Minnesota State, including study abroad programs and any other activities involving faculty, staff, and students, had previously been suspended.

The five Minnesota State colleges with spring break scheduled the week of March 16-20 will suspend classes March 23-29, with classes resuming March 30.

The University of Minnesota system announced that its five universities would move to online-only education until at least April 1.

While there are no confirmed cases in Beltrami County, as of Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed 14 COVID-19 cases in Minnesota. These cases occurred in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey, Wright and Stearns counties.

As of Friday afternoon, at least 1,700 people throughout the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus, and at least 41 patients with the virus have died.

Affected schools

Class is canceled until March 23 for the following schools:

  • Alexandria Technical and Community College

  • Bemidji State University

  • Central Lakes College

  • Century College

  • Dakota County Technical College

  • Hibbing Community College

  • Inver Hills Community College

  • Itasca Community College

  • Lake Superior College

  • Mesabi Range College

  • Metropolitan State University

  • Minneapolis Community and Technical College

  • Minnesota State College Southeast

  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College

  • Minnesota State University Mankato

  • Minnesota State University Moorhead

  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College

  • Normandale Community College

  • North Hennepin Community College

  • Northland Community and Technical College

  • Northwest Technical College − Bemidji

  • Pine Technical and Community College

  • Rainy River Community College

  • Ridgewater College

  • Riverland Community College

  • Rochester Community and Technical College

  • South Central College

  • Southwest Minnesota State University

  • St. Cloud State University

  • St. Cloud Technical and Community College

  • Vermilion Community College

  • Winona State University

Class is canceled until March 30 for the following schools:

  • Anoka Technical College

  • Anoka‐Ramsey Community College

  • Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College

  • Hennepin Technical College

  • Saint Paul College

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