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Decisions for the Fall 2020 Semester

MSU-Northern is committed to ensuring our campus and our community remain safe as we continue to face COVID-19. To that end, the following decisions have been made to begin preparing our campus for the Fall 2020 Semester:

  • Fall semester will run from August 31 to December 8
  • Courses will be offered face to face through Tuesday, Nov. 24
  • Each 50-minute class will be increased by 5 minutes (to 55-minute periods)
  • Lectures and labs will be front loaded to help make sure the most important content is taught early in the semester
  • Students will not be returning to the campus after Thanksgiving
  • Faculty will distance deliver two additional class periods sometime from Aug 31 to Nov 24
  • Finals will be delivered through alternate distance delivery methods between Dec. 2-8

 These decisions have been made with the understanding that they may change in response to any public health directives.

Our Guiding Principles on Returning to Campus

 Our goal is to resume on-campus activities to the greatest extent possible as soon as it is reasonable to do so. As such, we have developed a list of guiding principles that we will be conscious of as we move to reopen our campus this fall.

We will fulfill our mission and continue to deliver an Education that Works.

The core mission of MSU-Northern remains unchanged, even in a changed environment. We are committed to maintaining our standard of excellence and delivering an Education that Works in whatever form it takes, including in-person, virtual, or hybrid modalities.

We will make decisions based on the health and safety of our community.

Protecting our students, faculty, and staff is at the heart of every decision we make. We will be seeking the best public health practices available to mitigate the impact of the virus, from social distancing and personal protective equipment, to effective testing, contact tracing, and developing adequate quarantine facilities.

We will use data and science to guide our decisions.

Our plans for reopening campus will rest on guidance from public health authorities and the best available data and scientific information

We will be flexible and innovative in the face of evolving circumstances.

We will continue to embrace the challenges and opportunities of exploring new ways to deliver courses as the circumstances evolve.  We will prepare for multiple scenarios to ensure that we are providing a campus experience that plays to our community’s greatest strengths.

We will provide inclusive and equitable solutions.

Students, faculty, and staff from every part of the university will be integral to shaping and implementing our plans to reflect the full range of our community’s needs and interests. The approach we take will be thoughtful and attentive to the disparate impacts of the pandemic on members of our community.

We will heed our responsibility to ensure the university’s financial strength and stability.

The success of our response to this pandemic will have lasting effects on the university, and we must be mindful to make decisions that not only help us weather the present crisis but also position us for sustained institutional excellence.

*Guiding principles have been inspired by input from John Hopkins University.


In addition to these guiding principles, we have established various workgroups to ensure we develop a comprehensive plan for our reopening. Each workgroup will develop best practices and protocols for the campus to utilize in multiple scenarios and contingencies. The workgroups are encouraged to consider the guidelines developed at the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education to help guide their decision-making process.

Building Northern Steering Committee
The building Northern steering committee is directing the various workgroups and overseeing all of the plans, developing weekly messages and affirming the value of a Northern education/degree.

Campus Safety Workgroup
The campus safety workgroup is redesigning labs, classrooms and offices to facilitate social distancing as well as providing cleaning kits in every lab and classroom and Plexiglas shields around people working at counters.

Student Affairs Workgroup
The student affairs workgroup is evaluating options for residential housing and dining, safe practices for student activities, modifications of orientation and transition activities, and safe practices for use of undergraduate facilities.

Academic Programs Workgroup
The academic programs workgroup is contributing to academic planning across the institution, evaluating a range of in-person, online and hybrid modalities for academic programs, including: undergraduate instruction; assessing program readiness and needed modifications; providing recommendations for and coordinating the development of instructional support resources and educational technologies; and developing learning outcomes based on measurable competencies.

Health and Testing Workgroup
The Health and Testing Workgroup is developing guidelines to protect student and employee health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, this workgroup is evaluating protocols for testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, and how to best provide student physical and mental health services

Athletics & Campus Events Workgroup
The Athletics & Campus Events Workgroup is developing sports and events schedules by examining how to best implement safe practices for all student and campus activities.