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Spring 2021 Guide

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Since the beginning of the semester, COVID-19 vaccines have offered hope that progress is being made in controlling the spread of the virus. However, precautions still need to be taken to help protect the University community from COVID-19.

The detailed strategy outlined in this guide provides a sense of what campus looks and feels like for working, learning, and living on or near campus. For students, this is guided by the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan 2.0. For faculty and staff, this is guided by the Return to Work Sunrise Plan

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. Also included in this is information regarding vaccination efforts, as well as items to consider regarding spring break. 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.

Three steps to take

Regardless of if you are traveling, staying at home, or are working on campus, there are three guidelines all members of our University community are asked to follow to help ensure the health and wellbeing of themselves and others.

Three Steps to Take

1. Lay low: If you are traveling or returning to campus after an extended time away, be sure to limit interactions with others for at least 10 days before returning to campus. This will reduce chances of a COVID-19 exposure.

2. Get tested: All students, faculty, and staff are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19. This is especially true for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms. University faculty, staff, and students can be tested at Boynton Health’s RecWell site. Appointments can be made through the Patient Portal. Additional guidance on when to test and option are detailed here. If you need to quarantine or isolate, follow guidance for those living on and off campus.

3. Do the basics: Don’t forget that the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are to take every day public health steps. This means staying home if you are sick, avoiding large crowds, wearing face coverings, physically distancing, and washing your hands regularly.

Off-campus testing options

Students, faculty, and staff 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, faculty, and staff living in other states, please check with your state department of health (Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota). 

University Housing

For students living in residence halls, there continues to be  a phased approach to accessing campus and the surrounding community through the Maroon & 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 Back, a modified phase.

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. Dining is grab-and-go only from assigned building.

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.

Understanding campus community members may have traveled during spring break, the University plans to shift into a modified step from April 11–21 to allow adequate time for residents to lie low and get COVID-19 testing 5-7 days after their return to campus.

Any students concerned about exposure should be tested. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, you should immediately fill out this form and follow the existing MTest process to access information, COVID-19 testing, and support from campus healthcare providers, as well as other services.

Isolation and quarantine space is available for students living in University housing. 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 between the steps 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. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you defer personal travel if possible, but that if you do travel:

  • You know the testing requirements for your destination, and for returning, even if traveling domestically. Many states have current or recent quarantine restrictions that could continue throughout the spring.
  • You test before leaving and test again five to seven days after returning.
  • For international travel, remember that all air passengers arriving in the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board their flight.

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. 

Vaccination: Quarantine, resources, and more 

Evidence shows the vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the U.S. are effective at reducing the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, as well as potentially reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. However, at this time, scientists are unsure how long protections from COVID-19 vaccines last, how effective they are at reducing transmission of the virus, or how much protection they provide against emerging strains of the virus. 

As the number of people vaccinated against the virus remains low and new strains emerge, all people vaccinated against COVID-19 still need to follow basic public health guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 until more Minnesotans are protected against the virus. This means:

  • maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet;
  • avoiding large gatherings;
  • wearing a face covering in public spaces; 
  • staying home if sick; and
  • regularly washing your hands.

If an individual has received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and is exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) states they do not need to quarantine if all the following are true:

  • The COVID-19 exposure was at least 14 days after their vaccination series was fully completed.
  • The COVID-19 exposure was within 90 days of their final dose of the vaccination series.
  • They do not currently have any symptoms of COVID-19.

If at least one of those items are not true, then the individual exposed is to stay home and follow quarantine guidelines (on campus, off campus). 

If you are traveling out-of-state, please note that some states have issued restrictions and additional guidelines. In Minnesota, MDH encourages individuals who are traveling from out-of-state to quarantine for 14 days regardless of your vaccination status. 

Review further information about the University’s vaccination efforts. To learn more about vaccine safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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