Dear Students, Parents, and Families:

I write to you today with an update on Macalester’s plans for the 2020-21 academic calendar, doing so amidst all the suffering, grief, and rage we are feeling as a community, here in the Twin Cities and around the country in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. I extend my love to you all and hope that you and your families are taking good care of yourselves–please know that we are holding you all close.

The college’s senior leadership team, including both President Rosenberg and incoming President Rivera, gathered input from a variety of campus working groups about potential configurations of the academic year 2020-21.

As we shared in our April 16 update, our strong preference continues to be to complete two full semesters of on-campus instruction in the 2020-21 academic year. We continue to closely monitor updates from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and will adhere to its guidance. Given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have determined that our best way forward is to choose a calendar structure that provides flexibility for us to pivot more easily from in-person to remote learning (if it should become necessary to do so) and to ensure that our students can complete a full year of instruction.

With these goals in mind, we plan to follow a modified version of our traditional semester calendar:

  • We will begin classes on September 2. We plan to be in person, but if public health guidance dictates, will be online. Within the next month, we will release additional specifics including: move-in plans, fall athletics, student leader training, dates of breaks, and additional information about plans for summer 2021. 

  • We will split each 15-week semester into two 7.5-week modules;

    • During each module you will enroll in two 4-credit courses. We heard clearly from you and from faculty about the challenges you faced in balancing four courses in an online format. Planning for you to enroll in two classes at a time provides a contingency should health concerns dictate that we need to pivot to remote learning, and allows us to accommodate our students who are not able to join classes in-person (e.g. are not able to travel to campus, fall in a high-risk category, contract the virus, etc.)

    • Five-credit language courses will be taught across both modules, as 2-credit courses in each module.

  • We intend to add a module in the summer of 2021 to give you additional scheduling options, and will share additional detail in the coming months.

  • You will need to re-register for courses after the schedule has been rebuilt. Please watch for detail on re-registration in the next month.

While we all want to be back on campus together, we want to acknowledge that all of our plans must be flexible enough to effectively respond to public health guidance and to putting the experience of our students and the health of our community at the forefront.

We continue to update the college’s COVID-19 information hub, which you can access here. If you have specific questions, we’d welcome them at

Please watch for details on upcoming webinars with Dr. Rivera — one for faculty, staff, and returning students, and one for members of the incoming class.

I hope you and your families are healthy and getting some well-deserved rest following the wrap-up of the spring semester.


Karine Moe

Published: 5/29/2020