After Twin Ports campuses announced Wednesday the extension of their spring breaks so instructors can prepare to teach in alternative modes of delivery, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the latest to follow suit.

Several colleges in the Northland are part of the the Minnesota State system: Lake Superior College, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Hibbing Community College, Mesabi Range College — both in Eveleth and Virginia — as well as Vermilion Community College in Ely.

Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra said in a statement that all 32 of the system's college and universities currently on spring break will resume classes March 23.

The five campuses with spring break scheduled for March 16-20 will resume classes March 30.

During that extra week of break, administrators, faculty and staff will spend that week exploring alternative modes of delivery, the message stated. All campus operations will remain open.

Some classes will be easier to transition into an online format than others, said Daniel Fanning, LSC vice president of institutional advancement and external relations.

"The technical aspect will be a little more complicated so our academic deans are working on that," Fanning said, citing programs like manufacturing, truck driving and aviation. "How can we provide some of those more hands-on classes alternatively? That's what we're going to be looking at for the next week or two."

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College as seen on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Samantha Erkkila / serkkila@duluthnews.com)
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College as seen on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Samantha Erkkila / serkkila@duluthnews.com)

FDLTCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Anna Fellegy said the college's lab-based sciences, electrical technology and nursing clinicals are some of the trickier programs to transition into an alternative mode of delivery, but by using video-based lectures and demonstrations, the college can make it work, especially since for the past five years it's been offering distance delivery courses, he said.

"This is a hard situation, but we're well prepared for it," Fellegy said. "Not that it's going to be easy."

FDLTCC is also working out plans on how to accommodate students who have limited or no access to technology, Fellegy said.

As of now, Minnesota State has canceled large events with more than 100 attendees until May 1.

In addition to its previous suspension of international travel, the system will suspend out-of-state business travel for students, faculty and staff to begin March 16.

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