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Spring 2021 Guide

University of Minnesota Twin Cities Students

On January 19, 2021, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities will welcome students to a new semester of remote, hybrid, and in-person classes. In preparation for the spring semester, the University has developed a detailed strategy aimed at helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This guide provides a sense of what campus will look and feel like for living and learning on or near campus during the Spring 2021 semester, which is guided by the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan 2.0 for Spring 2021. This guide also asks each University community member to take steps that highlight our shared commitment to health and safety and the steps you should take if you experience COVID-19 symptoms or have a possible exposure to someone with the virus. The goal is to provide all members of the campus community with information about the U of M response to the pandemic, resources, and support.

Before returning to campus 

1. Lay low before you go: Ten days before returning to campus, limit interactions with others to reduce chances of COVID-19 exposure.

2. Get tested: All students are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus, especially those concerned about a possible COVID-19 exposure. Additional guidance on when to test and options for testing are detailed here.

3. Isolate: Students who test positive or who have symptoms prior to returning to campus, should not return to campus and should isolate at home for at least 10 days. Isolation may end when symptoms improve and after they no longer have a fever for 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medication.

1. Lay low before you go

The University of Minnesota’s Health Emergency Response Office (HERO) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommend that all students, regardless of where they live, lay low before returning to campus. This means in the ten days before traveling to campus—whether moving into a residence hall or living off-campus—students should take steps to eliminate the possibility of becoming infected with COVID-19 by limiting interactions with people outside of their immediate household.

Keep in mind these steps when planning your return:

  • limit gatherings of any size with people outside of your household;
  • plan your trip to campus to minimize exposure points, whether you are traveling by car, airplane, or public transportation; 
  • monitor yourself for signs or symptoms upon your return, especially if you traveled by airplane or public transportation, both of which put you in close proximity to other people; and
  • continue to take every day steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by wearing face coverings, washing your hands thoroughly, and maintaining physical distance when around others.

2. Get tested

For students returning to campus, public health officials strongly encourage you to seek COVID-19 testing by considering the following:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 at least five to seven days after your last possibility of exposure. Testing too early may result in a negative test result that is inaccurate.
  • While waiting for your test results, avoid close contacts with others. Close contact is described by MDH as being within six feet of another person for at least 15 minutes over the course of a 24-hour period.
  • Public health officials strongly encourage  you to be tested before arriving on campus, during move-in, and one week after move-in.

3. Isolate

All students are encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus. If a test comes back positive—or if a student has symptoms—before arriving on campus, follow the guidance below:

Testing Positive or Symptomatic Before Returning to Campus



Students living in on-campus housing

  • Isolate at your current location and remain there until:
    • you feel better;
    • and it’s been at least 10 days since you began feeling sick;
    • and you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.
  • Contact Housing & Residential Life (HRL) at [email protected] to make arrangements for a delayed move-in.
  • If you test positive after arriving on campus, you will be moved to on-campus isolation housing. Learn more from HRL.
  • If you have in-person classes, do not attend and contact your instructor for guidance on coursework.



Students living in off-campus housing

  • Isolate at your current location, whether it’s your off-campus apartment or a family home, and remain there until:
    • you feel better;
    • and it’s been at least 10 days since you began feeling sick;
    • and you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.
  • If you have in-person classes, do not attend and contact your instructor for guidance on coursework.

Once you return to campus

1. Lay low upon return: All students, regardless of their place of residence, are expected to limit time around others for two weeks after their return to campus. This means limiting gatherings, maintaining physical distance, and wearing face coverings.

2. Get tested: Once on campus, public health officials strongly encourage that all students be tested for COVID-19, but in particular those who are experiencing symptoms or are concerned about a possible exposure. As exposure concerns may occur leading up to the start of the spring semester, Boynton Health will be holding testing clinics during move-in and one week after move-in for students moving into on-campus housing, by appointment only. 

3. Monitor: All students should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms throughout the semester. Note that many younger adults experience only minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you are experiencing symptoms or are concerned that you were exposed and may not be showing any symptoms, get tested and contact your health care provider. Additional information can be found here. 

Get tested

Through the University’s MTest protocols, students can schedule a COVID-19 test with Boynton Health. Testing takes place at the Recreation and Wellness Center (RecWell). Available appointment times and scheduling can be found through Boynton Health’s online Patient Portal.

In addition to regular, weekday testing availability for any student, Boynton Health is hosting testing clinics during move-in and one week after move-in for students in residence halls. These clinics are being held on the following days, with appointments scheduled through Boynton Health’s patient portal after you have received your move-in confirmation date/time from HRL. Students should make both appointments as soon as you receive your move-in date in order to secure priority access. 

Move-in Testing Clinics

Testing Clinics One Week After Move-in

Friday, January 15

Saturday, January 16

Sunday, January 17

Monday, January 18

Friday, January 22

Saturday, January 23

Sunday, January 24

Monday, January 25

Throughout the semester, testing will be available at the Boynton Health testing site at RecWell. To learn more about testing at the University, review MTest information on the Safe Campus website.

Off-campus testing options

Students who are unable to seek testing at Boynton Health because they live outside the Twin Cities or do not plan on returning to campus can find testing location information about providers, community testing sites, and other opportunities from the Minnesota Department of Health. For students living in other states, please check with your state department of health (Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota).

All students can follow this decision tree for guidance on what to do if you have been exposed, or believe to be exposed, to a confirmed positive COVID-19 case or have tested positive for COVID-19.

University Housing

Undergraduate students living in University residence halls begin their move-in during Jan. 15-18, 2021. More details about assigned appointment times and safety precautions will be provided by Housing & Residential Life (HRL) to students through their University email address. 

For students living in residence halls, there will be a phased approach to accessing campus and the surrounding community through the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan 2.0, as was done during the Fall 2020 semester, with changes reflecting additional community needs. Each step is closely monitored and decisions to advance to the next step are guided by the on-campus positivity rates and those surrounding the campus. Check HRL for additional details about each step, exemptions, and more. 

The Twin Cities campus is currently in Step One “Stay Home.”

Step One “Stay Home”
Students will remain almost exclusively within residence halls, but may attend in-person classes and visit some on-campus locations (see HRL). May not visit other residence halls, businesses or residences off-campus. Doors are monitored after 10 p.m. Dining is grab-and-go only from assigned dining facility. 

Step Two
Students will have increased access to campus, including visiting all on-campus locations and the surrounding community. Doors are monitored after midnight. Seated dining is available at assigned dining facility if deemed safe to do so.

Step Three
Students will have full access to campus and the surrounding community as they do in Step Two. There will be a midnight required return to residence halls ("back home" hours). Seated dining is available at assigned dining facility.

Step Four “COVID Normal”
As always, students are expected to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings as they continue to have full access to on- and off-campus locations. May have other on-campus students as guests. Seated dining is available at assigned dining facility.

Residents of University apartments are expected to adhere to all health and safety precautions and steps noted above—lay low, get tested and isolate—to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Students moving into on-campus housing are strongly encouraged to follow the testing guidelines provided. Any students concerned about exposure should be tested. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately follow the existing MTest process to access information, COVID-19 testing, and support from campus healthcare providers, as well as other services.

Students living on-campus, unless they live in a single room, will be moved to University quarantine or isolation spaces. If they are awaiting test results, they will be quarantined; if they test positive for COVID-19, they will be isolated. Learn more about quarantine and isolation guidelines.

Moving from Step 1 to Step 2, or deciding to remain in Step 1 of the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan 2.0, depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • the latest COVID-19 case information;
  • effectiveness of the public health response;
  • status of general campus operations and more.

By following the University’s MTest process, students can help the public health system on our campus and surrounding communities work as designed to meet individual and campus needs. There will be special activities planned for all residence halls to help you connect with others in ways that abide by physical distancing and other public health guidance. 


If you travel away from campus once the semester has started, it is important to take steps noted above—lay low, get tested and isolate—to slow the spread of COVID-19. Traveling can put people at greater risk of getting sick.

Off-Campus Living

Students living off campus are expected to follow all public health guidance, including wearing face coverings, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. Students can attend class and use campus facilities, but know that those facilities are operating in compliance with state and University rules and guidelines.

Students living off campus, including in fraternity and sorority houses, should make a plan for what to do if someone in their home tests positive or is exposed to COVID-19. University quarantine and isolation spaces are not available to individuals who do not have a Housing & Residential Life housing contract. If a student living off campus needs assistance with locating resources in their city or county, please review information from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Living Off Campus: What to Expect


  • All students, regardless of whether they live on or off campus, can be tested at Boynton Health through MTest.
  • Find additional testing resources from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Exposed to a positive case

  • If exposed to a positive case, public health officials urge you to follow these quarantine guidelines.
  • Seek testing five to seven days after your last possible exposure or if you begin experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.



Testing positive

  • As soon as you test positive, you may be contacted by a public health official.
  • Expect the public health official to assess your living situation and provide instructions for you, your roommate(s), and any close contacts for quarantine or isolation.
  • Stay home until you meet these three conditions:
    • You feel better;
    • and it’s been at least 10 days since you began feeling sick;
    • and you have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing medication.
  • If you have questions, reach out to a trusted health care provider. You may reach out to Boynton Health’s 24-hour line at 612-625-7900. 

Graduate and Professional Students  

This plan provides guidance to all students, including graduate or professional students, to navigate testing options, behaviors on campus, and health and safety precautions. The steps noted above in Housing also apply to graduate and professional students who live in University residence halls or apartments. 

Student Conduct Expectations and Enforcement

While the University community awaits the upcoming vaccine distribution, the only way to be together on campus and minimize the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding large gatherings. 

We know that spending time together is a key part of the campus experience, but we must continue to exercise restraint—as we did in the fall—especially for social gatherings (e.g., off-campus parties, bars/restaurants) that have been directly linked to clusters and outbreaks on many campuses and throughout the nation. 

Violations of the University’s COVID-19 policies and the Student Code of Conduct—whether occurring on or off campus—are reported to the Office for Community Standards in the Office for Student Affairs, as well as with UReport in the Office of Institutional Compliance. Individuals found in violation through the investigatory process, and depending on the severity of the violation, may have one or more of the following disciplinary actions occur:

  • warning letter from the Office for Community Standards; 
  • disciplinary probation and educational requirements;
  • suspension of housing contract with Housing & Residential Life;
  • interim suspension from campus; or
  • other sanctions detailed in the Board of Regents Student Conduct Code.

Accessing the University

Your U Card is your official University of Minnesota ID and gets you access to your residence hall, meal plan swipes, Gopher Gold, libraries, and much more. Remember to keep your U Card with you at all times for access to University buildings. 

Students new to the campus community for the spring semester will need to upload a U Card photo to get started. Plan to pick up your U Card at the U Card Office. Visit the U Card website for more information.  

Additional updates

Continue to check your University email for updates from the University, your college or related departments—like housing, parking and transportation, and dining—regarding COVID-19. Additionally, visit the COVID-19 response page for the most up-to-date information and resources:


If you have any questions regarding this information, please reach out to [email protected].


Covid-19 Test Results
Number of Cases