Mines planning on in-person classes in the fall but campus will be different

Masks and remote learning options to be the new norm


Classes will be held at Colorado School of Mines campus in the fall — but life on campus will still look plenty different.

In a message sent to students and faculty on June 22, School of Mines President Paul C. Johnson and four other administrators outlined plans for the fall semester, which will kick off on Aug. 24 with the school sticking with its planned semester calendar.

Little else, however, will be unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the way many classes will be delivered. The administrators said Mines will be working with a reduced number of classrooms and lower occupancy limits that have left the school expecting approximately 60 to 70 percent of classes to occur on campus in lecture halls or lab settings with social distancing requirements in place. The remainder of Mines courses will be offered in remote, hybrid or online formats.

MORE: Mines athletic programs affected by COVID-19

Hands-on, project-based and first-year classes and labs are being prioritized for in-person delivery, while the “needs of faculty” are also being considered. All classrooms are also being outfitted with equipment that will allow all classes to be recorded which Johnson said will allow for “flexibility and eliminate the pressure to attend in-person if you do not feel well or need to isolate or self-quarantine.” Students wishing to delay their return to campus will also be provided with remote or online course options, according to the statement.

Other hallmarks of campus life will also continue in the fall, but often in a significantly revised form. In May, Mines suspended its on-campus living requirement for first-year students decided to limit occupancy of residence halls to 80% to allow for safe social distancing to be maintained and reserve a substantial number of rooms for possible use for self-quarantine and isolation. Amenities like the dining halls and student recreation center will also be opened but with capacity restrictions and other safety protocols in place.

CONTACT US: If you are enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines and want to share how the virus and the school's policies are affecting you, contact our reporter Paul Albani-Burgio.

Even traditions like the M Climb and Convocation will likely look different as the administrators said the Student Life team is “working hard to ensure our new students enjoy many of the traditional Welcome Week activities with new precautions in place.”

The school is also instituting several health and safety rules, including a requirement cloth masks be worn indoors and “in any setting where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.”

The release also asks students and faculty to commit to the Oredigger Promise — a commitment to adopt the practices and attitudes necessary to safely return to and remain together at Mines.

“When we return to campus, we must all pledge to keep ourselves and one another safe,” the administrator’s statement read. “Most students may be in the low-risk group with respect to COVID-19 impacts, but others in our community are not. We also have to think of our faculty and staff and their immediate families. Even if you have little worry for yourself, please think of them.”

Tucker Orr, who will be a sophomore at Mines this year, said he is glad the school will be holding some classes in-person given the in-person interaction and hands-on experience that is integral to many classes. But at the same time, he is also glad he and the rest of Mines student community will be able to watch classes online.

“I’m not too worried about going back,” said Orr. “I think we have a pretty good community at Mines and are going to try to help each other out and not get this thing spread all over the place.”

But Justin Pace, who will be starting a graduate degree in Mines this fall after completing his undergraduate there in the spring, said his reaction was decidedly more mixed.

“I feel like a lot schools are being pressured into making decisions right now and Mines is one of them,” Pace said.

Pace said he is concerned outbreaks in the dorms could still be an issue whether the dorms are at 80% or 100% capacity, and also worries campus could still end up being too crowded.

“One of the issues is if people have online classes that take place 10 minutes after an in-person class then 10 minutes isn’t enough time to go home so the same amount of people are going to be on campus,” he said. “So, I feel like most people are going to be on campus and its going to be kind of rough to deal with all the restrictions. I think a lot of people are stressed out about how education is going to be for the next year.”


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