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Local colleges plan to welcome back students for fall semester
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Local colleges plan to welcome back students for fall semester


As the coronavirus continues to spread through Winona and the rest of the nation at alarming speeds, local educational institutions are looking ahead to the upcoming fall semester to determine the best plans to consider for teaching their students.

Winona State University

Winona State University is prepared to offer students both online courses and in-person courses during the upcoming semester.

About 42% of courses will be offered in in-person or hybrid, the university determined through an intensive planning process starting in the spring semester.

The school is only expecting 15% of students to be completing their classes completely online.

The Rochester location will have much more online courses, with only an estimated 5% of students taking only in-person classes.

“The health, safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are of the utmost importance,” WSU President Scott Olson said in a statement. “It’s also our duty as a higher-ed institution to ensure that our students are receiving the best education they can get to prepare them for success in the future. That means considering what students’ academic needs are to progress in their programs without interruption, what their preferences are, and how we can responsibly offer that in a safe environment.”

Winona State President Scott Olson

Scott R. Olson

Course instructors will examine how their classes can be taught to better protect students from the spread of coronavirus.

Capacity limits for rooms in the university will be reexamined for the upcoming semester.

Students will be able to enjoy activities outdoors while on the campus, along with have small group meetings for clubs. Events will also be offered for students.

Warrior Athletics teams will be able to compete, along with students who play intramural sports.

The campus Fitness Center is expected to be open.

Residential dining halls and retail areas will also be open.

“To protect public health and safety, these experiences will be different, but we’re ready to make them happen. Students will still have opportunities for fun, find friends and make memories,” WSU officials wrote on the college’s website.

For more information about WSU’s response to COVID-19, visit

Saint Mary’s University

Students are expected to return to the Saint Mary’s University campus this fall for in-person instruction.

“We are looking forward to welcoming undergraduate and graduate students back to our campuses this fall. I am thankful for the careful planning that took place to allow us to open on schedule. We know that continued understanding, care, and consideration will be most helpful as we navigate this challenging new era in higher education,” said Saint Mary’s president Rev. James P. Burns.

The Rev. James P. Burns


The plan for the upcoming semester, which is being developed by the Fall 2020 Planning Coordinating Team, is designed to be adaptable to however guidelines created by health organizations may change during the pandemic.

All students will be asked to follow social distancing protocols, will be required to where face masks while in common spaces including classrooms and will be expected to follow proper hygiene guidelines.

As for student athletes, sports will follow NCAA and MIAC guidance. The university will not welcome the public to competitive events currently.

Saint Mary’s Winona facilities will not be available to be rented.

Any large events planned for the fall semester will be limited based on guidelines set by state and federal health organizations.

For more information about SMU’s response to COVID-19, visit

Minnesota State College Southeast

Minnesota State College Southeast is planning on being open in the fall, with precautions in place to help protect students with guidelines set by health organizations and to minimize how many students need to be on the campus.

Classes that must occur in person – including lab work — will include smaller enrollment numbers, social distancing and rigorous cleaning.

Classes that do not require in-person time will be taught, if possible, through distance learning formats.

Student services are expected to be available for students who need them.

If the spread of COVID-19 worsens, MSC Southeast stated on its website, “Our faculty and staff are preparing to adapt to changing health guidelines. Thanks to their incredible work, we have tremendous flexibility to quickly pivot if conditions change.”

For more information about MSC Southeast’s response to COVID-19, visit

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