Extended break, online classes, change to Pass/Fail option

As the situation around the country has continued to worsen, President Anderson, in an email to the student body on March 25, announced that the College will not be returning to on-campus learning during the spring semester.

The official announcement follows the Coronavirus Response Team’s decision on March 11 to extend spring break one week and hold classes online for two weeks thereafter. The announcement adheres to the schedule set in previous communications that the College would let students know by April 10 if classes would continue online past April 17.

St. Olaf’s choice not to return to on-campus learning mirrors decisions made by other peer institutions. The University of Minnesota announced on April 6 that classes will be held online through their summer semester. Carleton College extended their spring break by one week and will resume classes online during their spring semester. Macalester College has shifted to remote learning since March 30, and Grinnell College informed students of its shift to distance learning following its spring break on March 10.  

Over the course of the extended break, the College recommended that all students leave their belongings in their rooms on campus. Several options remain in place for students to retrieve their belongings, including sending items to students via mail or placing items in storage for later retrieval. St. Olaf currently plans to open campus twice over the next two months so that students who live within driving distance can return to pick up their items.

Information Technology (IT) has worked individually with students who may not have internet or computer access at home to help facilitate the transition, and have also created resources for faculty and staff who are now forced to work remotely. 

Professors across campus have prepared for the shift to online courses. Some classes commenced online-only instruction before the extended break officially began, while other professors started to film their class sessions for streaming online to ensure students could catch back up with missed lessons. For many classes, workloads have been altered to better facilitate the transition.

Upon shifting to off-campus learning, St. Olaf altered its policy concerning the Pass/Fail option for semester-long classes. Students now have until the final day of classes for the spring semester to make a class count as Pass/Fail. 

At the time of publishing, St. Olaf’s Emergency Academic Response Team has taken no further actions to amend concerns raised regarding class grading.