For the latest updates on OCM's preparations for COVID-19, please see our 2020-21 explanations and guidelines.

2020-21 explanations and guidelines

Physical distancing at the U

Physical distancing is an essential piece of the University of Minnesota’s plan to reopen campus. The following guidelines and explanations are intended to inform students, staff, and faculty of what they can expect upon returning to campus. We also hope that our plan will help departments and colleges prepare their own spaces for classes in the fall semester. 

Course scheduling

Departments updated their spring 2021 schedules with their modalities before October 2, 2020. We then assigned classrooms from October 6 through 22.

Any class with an enrollment of over 30 students will not be able to meet in person unless the instructor uses a HyFlex or a rolling attendance model. However, classes with enrollments of 29 or fewer will still have the option to meet in person or follow a blended course delivery model. OCM have been working with instructors and staff to find new classroom spaces to accommodate in-person and blended classes this fall. 

Event scheduling

Events will look different this semester as they will be limited to a 25 capacity per MDH guidelines. Buildings will remain locked and will be accessed by UCards. Since the buildings will remain locked, we will be unable to host external (non-University) events. For further information, you can check out OCM's Classroom expectations of use.

Classroom capacities

We used a 6-foot center-to-center approach by placing 6-foot diameter circles over existing room layouts in order to find the room’s capacity with physical distancing in place. We also ensured that the instructors have adequate space to teach while maintaining a 6-foot distance from students.

In our 346 learning spaces, we have found that the 6-feet physical distancing models on average reduce the capacity of general-purpose classrooms by about 78%. Auditoriums see a larger decrease in capacity (84%). This can be attributed to the tighter spacing of the fixed auditorium furniture. Computer Labs and Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs) see less of a reduction in capacity (58% and 68%). In Bruininks Hall, the tables are spaced in a way that allows 3 people to sit 6’ apart at the majority of ALC clusters.

To put all of this in context, with 6-feet physical distancing most of our classrooms have a capacity range of 5-20 people. Only 5 rooms in our inventory have a capacity of more than 50, and only 1 room has a capacity of more than 100 people, which is our Willey Hall 175 auditorium seating 105 people.

6 feet physical distancing models - number of rooms by capacity

Layouts by seating type

Examples of 6-feet physical distancing layouts for various room types can be found below. Visit OCM’s Room Search to see 6-feet room capacities and layouts of all general purpose classrooms.

What to expect in the classrooms 

  • The seats that are designated for students will be identified with a floor decal. These floor decals can be purchased through the U of M sign shop.
  • All other seats in classrooms where students cannot sit will be labeled, “Do not use.”
  • OCM will post all its classrooms with an updated layout that highlights the correct seating arrangement for 6-foot physical distancing.
  • Learning spaces will feature a poster campaign encouraging physical distancing, personal hygiene, symptom monitoring, and mask-wearing.
  • On a daily basis, Facilities Management (FM) will clean and sanitize the most frequently touched surfaces in learning environments and public spaces. You can find their full COVID-19 plan here.
  • All OCM learning spaces will be supplied with sanitizing wipes.
  • It will be important that users of the room wipe down their surfaces prior to use.
classroom with do-not-use labels