Message from the Office of the President: Vaccines, Spring Break, and Other Updates

April 2, 2021

Dear Twin Cities students, faculty, and staff,

As March has now turned to April, it's appropriate that together with the heartening news about vaccine eligibility (see more detail below), warmer weather, and our imminent Spring Break, we are also ushering in the National Month of Hope. It is in this hopeful spirit that I write today with the following updates.

Vaccine Eligibility

We are thrilled about Governor Tim Walz’s recent announcement that all Minnesotans, 16 or older, are now eligible for any one of the three COVID-19 vaccines available in the state. This news brings optimism for a summer filled with family and friends, followed by a successful return to in-person operations in the fall.

With this expanded eligibility comes the need for continued patience as the state increases its supply to meet the incredible demand. This process may take some time. The U of M Vaccine Team continues to receive a limited supply from the Minnesota Department of Health. When we receive doses, we, like the state, will continue to prioritize those in our campus community who are most at risk of getting COVID-19, or those for whom statistics indicate the potential for severe illness if infected.

I understand that many of you are eager to receive the vaccine. At this time, the best avenue to learn of immediate vaccination opportunities is to participate in the state’s Vaccine Connector and follow its guidance related to available options. As more vaccine becomes available, we will provide additional instructions.

In the meantime, we must also continue the preventive measures we've embraced. We will continue to wear face coverings, rely on testing, physically distance, avoid large gatherings with those outside of our immediate family or friends, and stay home if we feel ill.

Spring Break Step Back

Students living in University residence halls will remain in Step Three of the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan through Spring Break next week. Because many students will be traveling during the break, we will shift into a modified “Step Back” from April 11–21. This will allow residents time to “lay low” and be tested five to seven days after returning to campus. We encourage students, and anyone considering travel in the coming weeks, to review the Spring 2021 Guide for steps to take to keep yourself, your family, community, and campus safe.

COVID-19 testing through MTest at RecWell remains available for any students, faculty, or staff. The testing process is very easy and only takes a few minutes, so we encourage you to use it whenever you need it.

Chauvin Trial Resources

We recognize the impacts of the trial and we want you to be aware of the resources for our entire University community, including mental health support, educational tools, information for supervisors and employees, and more:

We will continue to identify resources as we learn of and/or develop them.

We are also monitoring for safety concerns and our team is coordinating closely with state and local governments and agencies to share real-time information among our organizations. The emergency management team continues to ensure we are prepared to assess any potential concerns, develop a coordinated response as needed, and promptly communicate with you.

Bias Reporting Resources 

In the wake of recent anti-Asian hate incidents and violence across the U.S., we have also heard from members of our University community regarding available bias reporting resources at the University of Minnesota. If you witness or experience a bias incident, report it to the U of M Bias Response and Referral Network (BRRN). Reports can be made anonymously and we are very grateful for your willingness to let us know so that we can respond.

On this day in 1893, the Minnesota Senate recommended the wild lady slipper as a state flower, which was later amended in 1902 to the pink-and-white lady slipper. Many people consider it the most beautiful flower in the state. With this weekend’s warming weather, followed by next week’s Spring Break, soon the budding of these beautiful orchids across our state can symbolize our path forward.

Please continue to stay healthy, safe, and well.

With warmest regards,
Joan Gabel