2020-21 Q&A


How will classes be offered in the fall and spring semesters?

Unless directed otherwise by the state or county, Mines expects the majority of class sections to have in-person instruction, along with some hybrid and fully remote and online options. Academic departments and campus leaders are also adjusting class times, classroom and lab occupancy practices and preparing to offer mixed modes of instructional delivery to support different types of classes this academic year. Additionally, Mines is preparing to ensure that all in-person instruction is recorded for students choosing or requiring remote options.

How is Mines going to deliver lab and design classes?

Research, design and labs are important components of the Mines experience. The Return to Mines Task Force and other teams are preparing our facilities so we can deliver face-to-face lab, design and other classes while adhering to government and public health guidelines.

Can I enroll in only remote classes?

Yes, students wishing to only complete non-lab classes remotely and/or online may do so.

One of my classes is in-person, but I’m uncomfortable with the arrangement and would prefer to be online. Will my professor stream lectures or maintain online curriculum for me?

All classes will be recorded to accommodate students working remotely and/or online. 

If I have courses that are online but an on-campus class right after it, will there be safe spaces on campus where I can take my online class?

There are designated locations around campus that will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for any  Mines student in need of a  socially distanced study spot with a strong Wi-Fi connection. Many of these spaces will be classrooms that are not being used this  coming  semester due to their smaller size and limited capacity under the  COVID-19  distancing requirements.  A list of locations is posted around campus to help you find the nearest  open study space. Students living on campus will be asked to utilize their housing space for remote classes and inclement weather shelter to allow other spaces around campus to be used by commuter students.

Spaces will also be available for individual or small group studying during evenings and weekends, including for residential students. Social distancing and mask requirements will apply in all cases.

Will there still be class attendance policies in place, even though we’re required to stay home whenever sick?

Students and faculty will be required to stay home whenever sick or exhibiting symptoms. Students will not be penalized for missing classes due to illness.

How will hybrid courses be delivered? Can I choose which days I appear in-person?

Logistics of hybrid courses will vary from course to course. Faculty will be providing you with details and expected days of attendance. You will need to follow the instructions provided by faculty on when you can appear in person.

I would like to take as many in-person classes as possible. How do I go about changing my schedule?

Continuing students can search for courses they are interested in and look at the modality to see if it matches their preference. Instructions to do this are provided here. You can register for these classes like you would during regular registration time. We do recommend speaking with your advisors before making changes to your schedule.

Will students be able to re-register if we want more (or fewer) in-person courses?

At this time, we are focused on helping students who want or need remote courses access those options. Students may be able to re-register depending on seat availability. If a seat is available, students can re-register or switch sections to fit their needs.

How will common exams work for students who are taking classes remotely?

Faculty will outline requirements for students to complete a course (including all exams and assessments) with 100 percent remote participation available for almost any course. These requirements may include using remote proctoring software, webcams, etc.

Is the testing center be open and available for exams?

The testing center is open but at reduced capacity.

How will senior design be handled this fall? Is there a remote option?

EDNS 491 and 492 for CEE, ME, EE and General Engineering are identified as hybrid. However, we can accommodate students who do not want to be on campus.

Will there be a pass/no-pass option for classes this year?

At this time, Academic Affairs is not considering a campus-wide pass/no-pass option.

To what degree will the administration ask instructors to make remote meeting times flexible? Clearly class work will vary by professor but will the physical presence in a Zoom room be required?

Remote classes will meet on the same days and times as they would if they were being held on campus and students will be expected to participate remotely in accordance with that schedule. All lectures will be recorded, however, should illness or a personal emergency prevent a student from attending.

Can you describe what the words "remote,” “online,” “hybrid” and "in-person" mean specifically to Mines?

Of the two virtual options—remote and online—remote courses are offered synchronously, meaning students will meet with Mines faculty (via Zoom) on the same days and times as they would if the courses were being held on campus. Students will be expected to participate remotely in accordance with that schedule.  

Online courses are offered asynchronously, meaning that students can participate in instruction on their own schedules, whenever it is most convenient to them. All online courses are designed and taught by Mines faculty, with technical and pedagogical assistance from the Trefny Center for Innovative Instruction at Mines. 

In-person courses will meet on campus in traditional classroom and laboratory settings, with masks, social distancing and other safety procedures in place to protect the health of students and faculty. All in-person lectures will be recorded to provide flexibility and allow students to keep up with their classes should they be required to self-quarantine or isolate.  

Hybrid courses will provide a combination of in-person and remote instruction, often with lectures offered remotely and labs in-person. The exact combination will be up to individual instructors, but students should expect to spend some portion of time receiving in-person instruction on campus. 

Where can I find the list of in-person courses that cannot be taken remotely?

The Registrar’s Office has published the list of all Fall 2020 courses that require in-person participation and cannot be completed remotely. Based on discussions with faculty, a total of 40 courses have been classified as non-remote. If you plan to be fully remote in the fall, check to see if any of the classes you are registered for are listed here. After consulting the list, students should speak with their advisors to discuss their options and find alternative classes, if necessary.

Is there a plan in place for when professors get sick?

Yes. Mines faculty members are being asked to prepare for this possibility by preparing materials in advance and working with colleagues to assist in the event of an absence.

I’m worried about getting to class on time. Will professors be lenient?

All faculty, staff and students are being encouraged to be flexible and understanding with the challenges we’re facing this year.

I would like to take as many in-person classes as possible. How do I go about changing my schedule?

Continuing students can search for courses they are interested in and look at the modality to see if it matches their preference. Instructions to do this are provided here. You can register for these classes like you would during regular registration time. We do recommend speaking with your advisors before making changes to your schedule.

Will Mines host classes after Thanksgiving? Can I choose not to return to campus after the holiday?

Campus will remain open after Thanksgiving Break, but all classes and labs will be delivered remotely beginning Nov. 30. All exams will also be delivered remotely (Dec. 11-12, 14-16). Research activities will continue under current rules. All students living on campus will continue required COVID-19 testing, and those living off campus can be tested through Mines’ free on-campus testing program. Students living in Maple, Elm, Spruce, Weaver, and the Traditional residence halls who elect not to return to campus after Thanksgiving will receive a prorated credit for December that will appear on their Spring semester bill. Read the full message to students regarding Thanksgiving Break here.

What do classroom spaces look like this year?

Classrooms are at a reduced capacity to accommodate social distancing. Some non-traditional spaces will be used for in-person classes, such as the Student Center ballrooms and the Green Center.

What support services will be available for students?

Mines will continue to provide access to the many support services on campus, including advising, tutoring, mental health counseling, career services and more. Because of capacity restrictions, many walk-in services will likely move to appointment only or may be offered in a virtual format. 

Will lab spaces be prioritized for undergraduate use with graduate work limited to nights and weekends?

Laboratory use will be determined by departments. Many of the labs that are also used for undergraduate classroom laboratory instruction will be occupied during teaching periods. In the spaces where the instructional labs are separate from research labs, any access restrictions will be determined by individual departments to determine an appropriate balance. 

If a student selects a remote or online study option, will it affect their teaching assistantship?

No—how you take your courses will not impact your appointment at all. 

Will graduate students be required to teach in-person classes?

Department leadership and faculty instructors will make sure everyone feels comfortable in the laboratory or classroom.

Can graduate students opt into remote learning?

Yes—graduate students should work individually with faculty to accommodate remote learning, and larger classes will have remote access or be recorded. 


Are the residence halls open, and how are they being operated?

Mines has opened all residence halls, including newly completed 1750 Jackson and Spruce Halls, for the 2020-21 academic year. Residence Life is offering single and double room options only, with an occupancy rate of 80 percent. This will allow for 20 percent of rooms to be reserved for COVID-19 isolation or quarantine use.

Students are asked to participate in cleaning and other measures to keep themselves and communities health. Mines has revised the Residence Hall Contract to reflect these and other changes meant to provide a safe and engaging learning and living environment for all Orediggers. 

Will housing contracts and assignments for sophomores and others change?

These will not be changed. Residence Life reports that upperclass apartment assignments will remain as assigned. 

How i mask wearing and social distancing rules handled in residence halls?

Jefferson County public health officials have said that students sharing living quarters, including an apartment or a room, are considered a family unit and do not need to wear protective gear within their home. Residence Life expects students to be thoughtful and kind to one another and considerate of their roommates. All students are expected to keep their apartments clean and participate in disinfecting surfaces. Masks will be worn if students are leaving their apartments or rooms until they have exited a building or if they are within 6 feet of others. Housing is very full at this time, and there are no alternatives to students’ assignments. 

If Mines is forced to close again, will residents in Mines Park (and/or the other residence halls) be allowed to stay?

The residence halls may have to close if directed by the state or county. If no directive is given and classes move online, residential areas will remain open so long as we are able to keep them open.

If I don’t live on campus in the fall, can I still move into campus housing in the spring?

Students may apply for spring housing, if there are spaces available. Residence Life will open the housing application in November and notify students/families of any availability.  

Are guests allowed in the residence halls?

No. To protect students and the Mines community, only residents will be allowed in their assigned residence hall. Other students living on campus will not be permitted to enter other residence halls. 

Campus Life

Is Mines Market and Periodic Table open?

Yes, our dining facilities will be open but with new services and safety precautions in place. Mines Dining is offering expanded carry-out options across campus dining facilities, as well as other services, while also keeping dining rooms open—with new configurations and lower seating density in place to ensure appropriate social distancing.

If I’m uncomfortable visiting dining halls, will there be a delivery or a pick-up option available to me?

Sodexo has updated dining options and procedures to adhere to public health guidelines, while offering students flexibility and value. Pick-up and delivery options are available. More information can be found here.

How do you plan to maintain Mines’ close-knit community during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While COVID-19 precautions and restrictions will present challenges, we expect to continue to offer students a robust university experience in the fall and spring of the coming academic year—both in person and online. Many of Mines’ signature programs, clubs and organizations, student activities and more will continue but with some required precautions and limitations to conform with public health guidance. More details will be provided throughout the summer.

How will students still have access to meaningful tutoring, advising and professor office hours?

While planning for fall is still underway, Mines will continue to ensure students have access to tutoring, advising, counseling and career services, among other things. Faculty and staff will also continue to hold sessions for one-on-one and group discussions, office hours and more. Many of these services will likely be delivered remotely in the fall with a limited number in person. More details will be provided as they become available.

With first-year students getting parking passes, will I be able to find a spot this fall?

All pass holders should be able to reliably find parking on campus. Mines will open two new parking decks this fall (near Arthur Lakes Library and at 1750 Jackson). This brings more parking to campus at a time when some in our community will continue working remotely or be on staggered work schedules.

How will Greek life be impacted by the precautions this fall semester?

Each organization will follow Mines policies and state and local regulations, as well as guidance from their national headquarters. Mines is currently working on guidelines for individual houses and recruitment and new event regulations. Further questions can be directed to Alexis Lakers at alakers@mines.edu.

Will the Student Recreation Center be open?

Yes—with some restrictions in place. Masks must be worn at all times, except for in the swimming pool. Exercise equipment has been moved to accommodate social distancing. And the pool is available by appointment only in one-hour blocks. The Rec Center is still offering Zoom classes and outdoor group activities during the day to exercise with others while at a safe social distance. 

Where can students eat on campus outside of the dining halls?

The Return to Mines Task Force has been inventorying all the spaces on campus and identifying a process in which students could request a time to occupy those spaces, but, weather permitting, students are encouraged to occupy outdoor spaces. Mines is also expanding our dining options to reduce density in all dining locations and maintain social distancing. We are partnering with GrubHub to offer mobile ordering, delivery and pickup options, and a new café will be open in Spruce Hall in September. Students will not be allowed to have food in classrooms. 

What are your plans to support your students’ mental health, especially first-year students?

The Mines Counseling Center will offer an array of enhanced remote services for students this fall—all of which can be accessed by students from their home on-campus or off. Among the planned offerings are daily options for drop-in office hours with a counselor and peer support groups via Zoom and an assortment of remote 30-minute skills seminars on topics such as coping with grief, anxiety, mindfulness, stress relief and managing screen time. Students who require individual sessions with a counselor will also be able to access those appointments through a private tele-therapy platform. More information is available on the Counseling Center’s website.


Are masks required at all times?

Masks are required at all times indoors, including classrooms, academic buildings, lab spaces, etc. Students will be required to wear masks in the common spaces within each residence hall but do not have to wear a mask when in their individual rooms.

Masks must also be worn while exercising in the Student Recreation Center, except for when you’re in the swimming pool. The pool can be used by appointment only.

Masks are required outdoors when a distance of six (6) feet from individuals cannot consistently be maintained. Under normal conditions, use of campus sidewalks will require a mask.

Will Mines provide masks for students, faculty and staff this fall?

Yes. Mines is preparing to provide at least one cloth mask to every student, faculty and staff member. These will be distributed on campus. The university is also asking all employees and students to secure their own masks as well to ensure they have a reliable supply available.

How will you handle a COVID-19 case on campus?

Mines is following public health and government guidance on how to prepare for and respond to a COVID-19 case on campus. Additional details will be made available prior to August regarding health services available to students who become ill, public information policies and cleaning and sanitation practices.

If a Mines community member tests positive for COVID-19, will HIPPA laws prohibit communication of this to others on campus?

Mines will be adhering to federal and public health directives regarding the notification of close contacts about COVID-19 cases. Our practice at this time is to avoid sharing identifying details, including the person’s name, while adhering to Department of Education guidance.

What plans are in place if employees or a group of students contracts COVID-19?

Environmental Health & Safety officers, as well as pandemic response team members, are following CDC and Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) guidance when alerted to COVID-19 cases among our community members. When a Mines student, employee or vendor gets a confirmed COVID-19 result and has been on campus within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, Mines officials are notifying close campus contacts of that diagnosis and urging those contacts to closely monitor their symptoms and self-quarantine for 14 days. This approach and policy will continue to evolve as additional guidance is offered.

How will Mines handle students or employees who get sick?

Mines students who become ill should contact the Student Health Center for care and assistance securing additional aid when required. Mines employees who become ill will be required to seek assistance through their healthcare provider. 

How will cleaning/sanitation practices change moving forward?

Mines is carefully developing and implementing cleaning and sanitation plans and practices, in keeping with federal and state guidance. Several Mines task forces are also building proactive plans to adjust traffic patterns, front desk procedures, facilities, classroom layouts and more to accommodate social distancing requirements and other best practices for reducing transmission.

What sort of social distancing/safety precautions will be in place in public spaces on campus like the library, dining halls or computer labs?

The Return to Mines Task Force and its subcommittees are preparing guidelines for campus buildings to ensure students and employees can return to campus as safely as possible. This includes spatial guidelines for common spaces and Student Life auxiliary areas, occupancy and directional signage and other measures that will be made apparent in those spaces. Face coverings are required for everyone on campus, and everyone should maintain a 6-foot distance from others whenever possible.

What happens if a Mines community member is not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing?

Mines faculty are allowed to ask students to leave their classroom or lab if the student is not wearing a mask or following appropriate safety precautions. Mines employees will be sent home if they are not wearing a mask.

Do students, faculty and staff have to quarantine after traveling?

Self-quarantine is no longer required following domestic travel. However, employees are required to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon return. Employees can work on campus while self-monitoring but are required to closely monitor themselves for symptoms. All employees working on campus should be checking for symptoms prior to coming to work, regardless of if they are returning from travel or not. Mines is requiring those returning from travel to be even more attentive for symptoms for this 14-day period, including conducting twice-daily personal checks. To help campus take extra precautions, if an employee is able to work remotely upon return from travel, they should try to do so, but this is no longer required.

Will the university perform temperature checks of students on campus?

Mines is requiring all employees and students to perform daily health checks on their own prior to reporting to class or campus. Temperature checks must be performed by individual students and employees. Anyone exhibiting signs of illness are required to stay home. 

If a student gets sick, is hospitalized and misses classes, how will this be managed?

As it does each academic semester, the Dean of Students Office will work with students who become ill and miss class as a result of illness or injuries. This fall, all Mines classes—including in-person courses—will also be recorded so that students who need or wish to miss class can access class material.

If there is to be contact tracing on campus, what will that look like, and will all students be required to take part in it?

When Mines is notified of a positive COVID-19 case among our campus community (faculty, students and staff), members of our newly-created rapid response team will reach out to the individual to inquire about their last day on campus and any close contacts (as defined by the CDC) they may have had while on campus, and initiate communications with those close contacts as appropriate. All Mines community members are required to participate as laid out in The Oredigger Promise

What resources will be available for graduate teaching assistants to help them stay safe and help enforce masks and social distancing requirements in the classroom?

TAs will have the same resources as faculty—all TAs will get masks, and for those who are teaching labs, face shields will be available. Similar to faculty, TAs may ask any student to leave the classroom if they refuse to wear a mask or they can cancel class. 

Will the Student Health Center be able to administer a COVID-19 test or free seasonal flu vaccines to students?

Mines will continue to run our flu vaccine clinics that we have on campus every year and flu shots will be paid for by Mines’ student health insurance. For those without the student health insurance, most health insurance programs reimburse the full cost of flu vaccines. 
For students who have COVID-19 symptoms, Mines will offer testing in the Student Health Center.  

Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing (ie., for those who do not have symptoms) is not offered on campus at this time, but there are free testing sites in the community that students can access. 

Will international students be required to quarantine when arriving in the United States?

Yes—in keeping with CDC guidelines, international students will be required to self-quarantine off campus for 14 days after arrival in the United States. After that 14-day period, they may return to campus and classes.  

If I contract COVID-19 or live with someone who tested positive, what do I do?

If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, you will need to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and until you are symptom/fever free, according to CDC guidance. If you live with a COVID-19-positive person, you will need to quarantine per CDC guidance for a minimum of 14 days. (A number of steps and resources are included in our student safety guide as well.)  

Begin by reporting your case or exposure to Mines via our COVID-19 reporting tool. Students should then complete the Dean of Students’ online absence request form.  

And of course, if you need medical attention and live locally, contact your primary care provider or the Student Health Center at shc@mines.edu or 303-273-3381. Students living on campus should also contact their RA. 

I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. As a student living on campus, do I still need to get tested?

According to the CDC, it is unknown if people who recover from COVID-19 can be re-infected, and results “do not confirm whether or not you are able to spread the virus that causes COVID-19.” Therefore, we are asking students living on campus, including those who have received a positive antibody test result, to continue to be tested.  

I’ve had a positive PCR test. As a student living on campus, do I still need to get tested?

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19 via a molecular PCR test (nasal swab), please email your test results to the Student Health Center at shc@mines.edu. Based on current guidance from the CDC and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, you may be exempt from testing for 90 days from the date of your last test. The Student Health Center will follow up with you, and you should not schedule a test until you hear from them.  

This request for exemptions only applies to students who previously tested positive via a molecular PCR test AND who have not had any COVID-19 symptoms for the past 10 days. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should not come to campus during move-in and instead contact Residence Life for further instructions. Antibody test results (blood test) will not be accepted as proof of a previous COVID-19 infection.

How and when will you update campus about COVID-19 cases?

Mines officials will be regularly updating the campus and community on positive cases among faculty, staff and students who are studying and/or working on campus. This will take the form of public updates and targeted alerts.


  • Mines is maintaining a COVID-19 dashboard that shares the total number of cases among our students, faculty and staff. 
  • These aggregate details will also be shared with our community in Friday Mines Climbs Together emails (which are also posted on the Mines Climbs Together website under Most Recent Communications, should parents and families wish to see them).  
  • The Mines Alert Team will also notify campus of any COVID-19-related operational changes, as well as campus outbreaks (defined as two or more confirmed cases in a facility or non-household group within a 14-day period.

Mines will not broadly communicate details about individual positive cases but is sending targeted communications to close contacts and potential close contacts.  

Mines’ COVID-19 Response Initiator Team (CRIT) reports all positive cases to Jefferson County Public Health officials and identifies and alerts potential close contacts of positive cases on campus, including within the residence halls. These communications will not identify the specific room/residence or student. 

What schedule will the HVAC systems in campus buildings be following?

Mines has expanded the hours when building HVAC systems are operating to maximize the effect of ventilation and air treatment, per ASHRAE recommendations. HVAC schedules now match their buildings’ published open access schedules, plus an additional two hours before the doors unlock every morning. So, for example, in Brown Hall, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday, the HVAC systems are running from 4:30 a.m. to midnight Monday-Friday. This will make sure buildings are “flushed” of contaminants before any students or staff get to campus. For more information about HVAC and portable HEPA filters, check out the FAQ on the Returning to Mines website

Tuition and Finances

Will Mines extend any refunds if all classes are required to be online and in-person classes are entirely discontinued due to a COVID-19 outbreak? What happens if students are asked to totally leave campus and go back home due to a state directive?

Should in-person classes be interrupted due to local, state or federal directives, we expect to transition those classes to remote delivery, as was done in March this year. Students in Spring 2020 were credited a prorated amount for dining, housing and other services. In the event of local, state or federal orders that necessitate students leaving residence halls or Mines closing elements of campus operations, similar responses will again be considered. 

Will tuition rates be lowered for hybrid and remote classes? If not, why?

Our tuition and fee structure for this coming academic year was approved in June by Mines’ Board of Trustees and did not include reductions for remote or hybrid courses. Those courses will continue to be built and led by Mines faculty, who are asked to deliver these courses in both an asynchronous and synchronous fashion, building in weekly dialogue, bi-weekly Zoom office hours and other practices that are proven to enrich the learning experience.

Tuition rates are calculated based on a student’s residency (resident or non-resident), the number of credit hours they are enrolled in and their degree program (e.g. on-campus degree or online degree). 

Base rates reflected on the Tuition Schedule do not include course fees, lab fees, health insurance, room and board, etc. 

Students enrolled in an on-campus degree will pay the regular tuition and fee rate, regardless of whether the course is offered in-person or remotely. 

Only students enrolled in an approved online degree program will be charged the online tuition rate. Online degree programs are listed under “Approved Programs” on the Mines Online website.  

What fees are students required to pay this year?

Mandatory fees are assessed to students enrolled in an on-campus degree. For the fall and spring semesters, students enrolled in fewer than four credit hours will be assessed the technology fee only. Students registered in four or more credit hours will be assessed all of the mandatory fees.

Students enrolled in an approved online degree program will not be assessed mandatory fees.

Students may be assessed additional fees (course, lab, etc.) based on their enrollment.

A complete list of mandatory fees can be found here.

I need a laptop. Can Mines help me get what I need to complete my courses?

Mines has several ways of supporting students who are in need of assistance. A good place to start is the Dean of Students’ Raise Your Hand form

Campus Calendar and Events

Is Mines considering an adjustment to its fall calendar?

At this time, Mines officials do not expect to make any changes to the fall academic calendar. Classes will start as scheduled on August 24 and final exams are still scheduled for December 11-12, 14-16. Residence halls will remain open throughout the semester, including over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Will the fall commencement ceremony occur on campus?

Mines will make an announcement about fall commencement as soon as possible but not before the fall semester begins. The latest information on commencement is available at commencement.mines.edu.  


How will Mines ensure the safety of our student athletes this year?

Mines Athletics takes the health and safety of student athletes very seriously. They are following public health, government and NCAA guidance.

Will there be fall, winter and spring sports this academic year?

The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference canceled all fall championships and moved football, soccer and volleyball to the spring. Cross country and golf will continue to compete as normal in the fall. Sports that have moved seasons will be able to practice in the fall.

Is the Student Recreation Center and other athletics facilities open?

The Student Recreation Center is open to students and members, with safety guidelines in place. The Volk Gym, Steinhauer Fieldhouse and Korell Athletic Center are closed except to Athletics staff and by appointment for student-athletes. The Volk/Korell weight rooms are open to student-athletes by assigned times. Mines’ outdoor fields and track are open to student-athletes but closed to the public.

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Protecting Mines

Why I Wear a Mask

Mines students, faculty and staff share the many reasons they wear face coverings in public and when they are on campus.