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Planning for 2020-21: General Topics
Planning for 2020-21: Academic Topics
Summer Guidance
Staying Healthy
Support Resources
Ways to Help

Planning for 2020-21: General Topics

🆕What are Macalester’s plans for Fall 2020?

On June 30, President Rivera shared a Fall Planning Update. Our plan is to begin the fall semester in person, while providing a remote option for those who choose, or need, to learn remotely. The plan includes a list of actions we are taking to support learning while observing best practices for physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and other preventative measures.

🆕  If I decide to take a Leave of Absence, what is that process?

The Leave of Absence process and policy for returning students can be found in the Student Handbook. The Leave of Absence form can be found on the website at Forms/Processes. Once you have submitted your form to the Office of Student Affairs, they will obtain the necessary signatures from campus offices on your behalf then process your request. An official notification that your leave has been granted will be sent to your Macalester email address.  If you have questions about the process or completing the form, please email studentaffairs@macalester.edu. If you are a returning student seeking a Leave of Absence for Fall 2020, please submit your request by July 15, 2020. Requests will also be accepted after July 15.

New incoming first-year and transfer students should not request a Leave of Absence.  Instead, they may either request a deferral here or reach out to admissions@macalester.edu to learn more about deferral options.

When will a plan for group gatherings – including athletic team practices, plans for fall sports, performing arts groups, etc. – be announced?

At this point, we can’t commit to a timeframe for announcing plans for group gatherings. These plans will be determined with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, the NCAA, the Infectious Disease Task Force, and the college’s working groups.

How are spaces on campus being adjusted for social distancing?

As Dr. Steph Walters, medical director for the Hamre Center for Health & Wellness and co-chair of the Infectious Disease Task Force, shared in her June 5 update to staff/faculty and students, the college’s working groups and the Infectious Disease Task Force continue to work with senior staff to develop comprehensive and coordinated processes for the beginning of the academic year.

Working groups are using the six foot social distancing guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health as they consider plans for classrooms, dining halls, residence halls, the Leonard Center, the Campus Center, and other shared spaces. 

Facilities Services staff are developing plans for making appropriate modifications to support social distancing including modifying seating areas and adding signage. The Learning Spaces Committee, in particular, is looking at classrooms, labs, and other areas used for teaching and learning.

How are residence halls and dining spaces being adjusted for social distancing? Is capacity being reduced?

Plans are in progress to maximize opportunities for social distancing in the college’s residence halls and dining spaces. Move-in will be staggered to best ensure health and safety. Events and social activities in the residence halls will be adjusted to support social distancing. In addition, modifications will be made to support physical distancing in hallways and common spaces. This may include reconfiguring seating in common areas, and reducing or rearranging furniture. Elevator use will be restricted to no more than two people at a time.  

In terms of dining, plans are being made to support a range of requirements (from socially distanced dining to expanding grab and go locations and options).

What will Orientation look like, and will move-in be staggered?

Move-in will be staggered. As a component of our fall planning, the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement team is in the midst of planning for orientation and move-in. 

What is the plan for COVID-19 testing? PPE? Quarantine and isolation?

The college, with significant input from the ID Task Force and local health organizations, continues planning to ensure the college has measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. That includes:

  • Testing: MDH and the CDC, at this time, are not recommending universal asymptomatic testing as a prevention strategy, despite some colleges choosing this route. For those interested in the science or ethics behind testing strategies, consult: The CIDRAP Viewpoint, Dr. Osterholm on smart testing strategies or American College Health Association COVID testing update  The Hamre Center medical staff will work with MDH to ensure students have access to evidence-based testing (as of this memo, all symptomatic persons in Minnesota are recommended to have COVID testing and all insurers are covering the cost). At this time, we are awaiting MDH guidance on best-practices to determine if this is something that will be provided on campus or if students will be referred off-campus for testing. Faculty and staff should consult with their primary care providers. Information on testing resources is available on the Minnesota Department of Health website. 
  • PPE: As per the summer guidance message to staff/faculty and students, the college expects community members to wear masks in a number of instances. The college is providing cloth masks to Macalester community members who do not have a face covering. All employees will receive appropriate protective equipment as needed to do their work.
  • Quarantine and isolation: The identification of rooms and processes to support quarantine and isolation is underway. 

What support is being provided for students, faculty, and staff who have underlying health conditions? Whom do I notify as a student? Whom do I notify as a staff or faculty member?

Protecting the health of our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable, is at the forefront of our planning. We know there are staff, faculty, and students who will not be able to safely return to campus in the fall, and we are ensuring our plans take their needs into account. If you are a student who requires a health accommodation, please contact Disability Services at disabilityservices@macalester.edu for support and guidance. If you are a staff or faculty member who requires a health accommodation, please contact Bob Graf at rgraf@macalester.edu.  

What resources are available for international students?

The International Student Programs team is working closely with both incoming and returning students. Every international student is in a unique situation, which warrants individually tailored recommendations. ISP is creating an FAQ for international students scheduled to be released on June 11. Many of the issues around visa appointments and what travel restrictions will be in August and September are unknown. And, guidance is changing rapidly. If Macalester international students have concerns about their current situation, they should contact an ISP staff member or write to the ISP general email.

What is the plan for limiting traffic in, or allowing access to, campus buildings including the Campus Center and the Leonard Center?

These considerations are being factored into our social distancing planning. Details will be announced as more comprehensive fall plans are rolled out. 

What opportunities will there be for student employment in the fall?

We are anticipating both remote and in-person student employment opportunities (should we be on campus in the fall). We began that hiring process in April under the assumption of being on-campus. This was primarily because the student hiring process takes considerable time and the fact that we did not know what the future would look like back in April. Students who have been hired for a position in the fall were notified that conditions or circumstances related to their employment might change given the unknowns at the time. Naturally, a significant factor related to the availability of jobs depends on the decision to be in person or remote. 

What plans are being made for study away in the spring of 2021?

On May 6, Provost Moe announced that the college would not support study away for the fall of 2020. No plans have been announced for study away programs in the spring of 2021. The Center for Study Away team is communicating directly with affected students and has prepared an FAQ for students who had been planning to study away for Fall 2020.

Is the college permitting travel for employees?

Currently, the college’s expectation is that there is no non-essential, work-related travel — either domestic or international — for employees. 

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Planning for 2020-21: Academic Topics

🆕Will the Fall Semester be taught in-person, remotely, or a combination of the two?  

Our plan is to begin the fall semester in person, while providing a remote option for those who choose, or need, to learn remotely. In order to limit the number of students in a room at any given time and to accommodate students who will need to learn remotely, the faculty will offer a variety of instructional methods. Students can expect that classes will be a mix of in-person, remote, and some combination of the two. Additional details were shared in President Rivera’s Fall Planning Update.

🆕How will Macalester conduct a Fall semester that minimizes health risks?

President Rivera’s Fall Planning Update includes a list of actions we are taking to support learning while observing best practices for physical distancing, enhanced hygiene, and other preventative measures.

What will the 2020-2021 academic calendar look like?

The 2020-21 academic year will begin on September 2, 2020. 

  • Fall and Spring semesters will each be divided into two 7.5-week modules. Modules 1 and 2 for Fall semester, and modules 3 and 4 for Spring Semester. 
  • There will be 10 official class times, called blocks, for the 2020–2021 Academic Year.
  • Students will enroll in up to two (four credit) courses per module. 
  • Students will enroll in a minimum of 12 credits to maintain full-time status and a maximum of 18 credits over the course of the semester. 

Will exceptions be allowed for courses to be taught across modules?

Some exceptions will be made: 

  • Five-credit language courses will be taught across two modules.
  • A decision is pending for students in music ensembles. 
  • Senior capstones and other courses are not exempted from the one-module limit. 

Will courses be offered in Summer 2021?

Plans are underway to offer a Summer 2021 module. In this module, students will be able to take up to two courses. At this time, we expect that module to begin shortly after Commencement.

What flexibility will faculty have in terms of when they teach their courses and how many during each module? 

Full-time faculty may spread their five-course teaching load in Academic Year 2020-21 over the four modules and the summer. This will allow faculty the opportunity to teach no more than one course per module. It may also be possible for faculty who teach their five courses during the regular academic year to teach a sixth course in the summer as an overload. This possibility will be offered as a way to increase flexibility for faculty.

As departments develop their AY 2020-21 course schedules, we are not asking them to indicate which course will be offered in the Summer 2021 module. We do ask departments, however, to identify which faculty plan to spread their teaching load and teach one of their five courses in the Summer 2021 module.

Will faculty have the ability to arrange their schedules so that they are not teaching in one of the modules? 

In the interest of distributing faculty workload and decreasing the density of individuals on campus, faculty are strongly encouraged to teach in each of the academic year’s four modules. In some cases, such as in departments that teach multiple sections of the same course, for example, it may make sense for faculty to teach two courses in the same module. Each department will determine what works best for their curriculum. 

Faculty who opt to structure their teaching load so that they are not teaching in a given module should understand that they are not “on leave” during the module in which they are not teaching. As an example, if a faculty member decides to teach 2-0-2-1, they will be expected to continue their departmental and college service as well as advising during the module in which they are not teaching.

Will students need to register again for Fall 2020? Will they need to meet virtually or via email with their advisor? Will they need a new PIN? 

Students will need to register again for Fall 2020 once the schedule is re-built. Plans are pending regarding advising and issuing new PINs. 

What are the deadlines for students to defer or take a leave of absence?

Previously we had asked first-year students to share with us whether they plan to defer by July 1. In addition, we’d asked current students to share with us their plans to take a leave of absence by the first day of class. We are now asking first-year students to request a deferral by July 15.  More information and the Request to Defer Form can be found here. 

If returning students plan to request a leave of absence in the fall, in order to help us with our planning, we strongly encourage them to submit those requests by July 15. More information, including the form to request a leave of absence, can be found here. 

What additional technological support is Macalester providing to facilitate teaching? 

ITS, in consultation with the Classroom and Learning Spaces and Pedagogy working groups, is preparing to order technology kits for interested faculty to use in the classroom or while teaching from home in the upcoming academic year. These kits will likely include an iPad, Apple Pencil, webcam and microphone(s). The goal is to equip faculty with tools that can be used anytime, anywhere, regardless of course format or location. Training with these tools for teaching activities like slide annotation, recording lectures, and delivering content to remote students will be provided in partnership with the Serie Center. These technology kits will be purchased using emergency funds allocated by Macalester, rather than with individual faculty funding. In addition, AIAs will recommend additional technologies for specialized instructional needs. Look for more details on kits and related training later in the summer.

How will faculty personnel reviews proceed? 

Promotion reviews will follow the regular schedule. Pre-tenure reviews have been granted a one-week extension for submission of materials.

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Summer Guidance

Will staff and faculty continue to work remotely?

Most employees will continue to work from home, and are available via email. Those who have been working from home, but need to return to campus, will consult with their supervisor or department chair to coordinate the number of individuals in a space.

What are the college’s expectations for social distancing during the summer?

  • Observe social distancing guidelines by staying at least six feet apart.
  • Only two people should be in any small, confined space (such as an elevator) at a time unless they are in each other’s shelter group (meaning they live together or are regularly sharing space).
  • All members of the campus community should wear a mask when they are in indoor shared spaces (such as hallways, bathrooms, common areas) and/or if they are outdoors within 6 feet of people who are not already an intimate or household contact.  For examples of when a mask is indicated, please visit Protect Yourself & Others: COVID-19.
  • Students who are living on or near campus this summer, if you need a mask, please request one here.

Will campus buildings remain closed in the summer?

Buildings that are closed will remain closed for the summer. For example, if you come to campus, the Leonard Center facilities remain closed. Additional information about specific buildings will be communicated as changes occur.

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Staying Healthy

What should I do if I feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms?

  • Everyone is expected to stay home when they are ill. Minnesota currently has the capacity to COVID test all symptomatic persons. Please do seek out testing if you have any of the symptoms listed by the CDC.
  • If a healthcare worker or public health professional advised you to self-isolate or self-quarantine please follow their advice. If you are a student currently living on campus and need support in self-isolating or self-quarantining, please contact Public Safety at 651-696-6555.

Where can I find more information about COVID-19?

Our Government Guidance page includes links to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Public Health, and Ramsey County Public Health.

Can students still utilize Hamre Center for Health & Wellness services?  

Even though the Hamre Center is closed for appointments during the summer there will be someone in the office on Mondays and Wednesdays for Administrative support.  Emails and phone calls will take time for responses but checked throughout the week.

If you need care after hours, please visit Urgent and Emergency Care for resources. If this is an emergency, please call 911. 

What do I do if I have an urgent concern or an emergency?  

In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

  • Macalester Public Safety is available 24/7 to provide advice or respond to a concern. Public Safety will also connect with Student Affairs staff who can assist and follow up.

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Support Resources

How is Macalester working to support students during this time? 

We will ensure that all Macalester students have food and a safe place to live. The college will work with all students to ensure they have the technology they need and are able to fulfill their current academic commitments. We will continue to work individually with students and families if extenuating circumstances arise.

A new Emergency Aid Program is available to help students experiencing financial distress. This program comes in response to a general concern about unexpected expenses that can disrupt a student’s educational trajectory, especially students who have no financial safety net. COVID-19 has underlined the need for such a program. More information about this program, and the form students should use to begin the process, can be found on the Financial Aid website.

What resources are available to support virtual community and wellness?

Recognizing the value and importance of the learning that happens outside of the classroom…even the virtual one, the Division of Student Affairs has created an online hub for student engagement, community, and involvement. Resources are in place for students to connect and find community through student organizations, programming, chat rooms, and other virtual programs. There will be opportunities to engage in wellness activities such as yoga, fitness classes, and guided reflection. The online hub will highlight pathways to a variety of campus resources available to students through remote connections. 

What support resources are available for faculty and staff?

Staff and faculty can access support resources through the Employee Assistance Program. 

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Ways to Help

How can faculty, staff, and parents help Macalester students?

Thanks to those of you who’ve asked how to support students. You can make a gift to the Macalester Fund, which provides critical flexible support that can be deployed rapidly wherever it’s needed. Gifts will help our students with unanticipated expenses and help every campus department reimagine remote student support and programming. Any gift is appreciated.

What can alumni do to help?

Many of you in our thoughtful and generous community have asked how you can help. Thank you! Here are some ways to do that: 

  • Support Macalester students in a time of need. As the needs of our students, faculty, and staff grow and evolve, gifts to the Macalester Fund provide critical flexible support that can be deployed rapidly wherever it’s needed. Your Macalester Fund gift will help reimagine remote student support and programming by every department—from the Library to Health and Wellness to Career Exploration. Your gift will also help meet the rising student need for food through Open Pantry, provide support for lost student employment wages, and provide supplemental financial aid for students whose needs have increased during this crisis.
  • Be available to share career advice. During this tumultuous time, students could really use your career advice. Turn on your CareerHelper badge in MacDirect to show students you are open and willing to connect.
  • Hire a Macalester student. Have an opening at your organization, even for part-time work? Fill out this quick Google form and we’ll share it with students.
  • Stay connected and supportive. Show your Macalester pride—in conversations, on social media, wherever you are. Share your love for students and each other. This pride will help bring comfort and will also help prospective students see the community they will be a part of if they choose Mac. Reach out to friends and classmates through your local or class-year social media channels as well as through MacDirect, our online alumni directory.


  • For students or parents of current students: Have a question that isn’t answered in our FAQ or on this site? Please email us at healthresponse@macalester.edu
  • For alumni: Have a question that isn’t answered in our FAQ or on this site? Please email us us at alumnioffice@macalester.edu

Reviewed: 7/07/2020