The following message was sent to all Mines students on 6/22/20:

Dear Mines Students,

Greetings from Golden! The campus is incredibly beautiful today—greener and warmer than the one many of you left back in March and busy gearing up for your arrival in August.

A few of you are already here. Today, more than 175 students returned for Summer II classes. They are the first to experience the new norm for in-person lecture and lab classes that the rest of you will encounter this fall. They are also the first to see some of the physical changes we are making to campus to prepare for your arrival. We’ll learn from their experiences and make additional improvements prior to the start of the fall semester.

All of these changes, of course, are to protect you and all members of our community from COVID-19, and to give ourselves the best possible chance of completing the fall semester together. In fact, we’ll all be making a commitment to each other—the Oredigger Promise—to adopt the practices and attitudes necessary to safely return to and remain together at Mines (more on that later in this note).

Although our plans are not complete and there are decisions still to be finalized, we wanted to provide you with an update on the road ahead and our preparations for fall. These reflect the dedication and herculean efforts of our nine pandemic recovery teams at Mines, as well as the contributions of many more faculty, staff and students.

Fall 2020 updates


  • We will kick off our Fall 2020 semester as planned on Monday, August 24, with our academic calendar for the term unchanged. We plan to continue classes and have campus open after Thanksgiving.
  • We expect approximately 60 to 70 percent of Mines courses to occur on campus and in a lecture or lab class setting with physical distancing and other safety precautions in place. The other courses will be offered in remote, online or hybrid formats.
  • The course schedule is almost complete and you should know soon how each of your classes will be delivered (on-campus, remote, online or in a hybrid format). We have to work with a fixed number of classrooms and lower occupancy restrictions and are prioritizing labs, hands-on, project-based and first-year classes and are also considering the needs of our faculty in making the course delivery mode decisions.
  • For those of you who pre-registered for classes this spring, we think we will be able to honor those schedules with respect to the times your classes are offered. Class locations and/or modes of delivery might change.
  • Thanks to efforts underway in ITS, we are equipping all lecture classrooms with cameras, microphones and speakers so we can record all in-person classes and offer you flexibility and eliminate the pressure to attend in-person if you do not feel well or need to isolate or self-quarantine. Remote courses will be recorded and available in Canvas as was done this past spring.
  • Students wishing to delay their return to campus this fall, as well as international students whose ability to travel may be restricted, will be provided with remote and online course options to allow them to start or continue their coursework off campus until they are able to return to Golden.

Health and Safety

  • As is the case today, when we reopen in August, all members of our community will be required to adhere to the guidelines, policies and practices advised by government and public health officials and put in place to help keep all of us safe.
  • We will all complete training sessions to learn required safety practices and expectations for learning, working and living on campus.
  • We will all commit to the Oredigger Promise to protect our classmates and colleagues, our families and neighbors and ourselves by adopting the practices and attitudes needed to safely return to and remain together at Mines.
  • Physical distancing measures will be in effect across campus.
  • We all will wear cloth masks that cover the nose and mouth when indoors and in any other setting where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and use any other protective gear as directed by the university. We are planning to provide a few cloth face coverings to each of you, but you should plan on having your own supply as well.
  • Last month we suspended the on-campus living requirement for first-year students and our on-campus residence hall occupancy will be at about 80 percent. This allows us to maintain safe social-distancing practices within the residence halls and also reserve a substantial number of rooms for self-quarantine and isolation use, should we need them.
  • We have expanded our custodial capabilities in order to provide enhanced cleaning in all campus facilities—including twice-daily disinfection of classrooms and other high-contact areas.
  • We will be providing free COVID-19 tests to symptomatic students at the Student Health Center. We are seeking to establish a partnership that allows us to also provide COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic students.

Campus Life

  • Our Student Life team is working hard to ensure our new students enjoy many of the traditional Welcome Week activities. Convocation and the M Climb will occur with safety precautions in place, including the temporary elimination of student organization participation.
  • The Student Recreation Center will be open but with capacity restrictions and requirements for entering and working out to prevent coronavirus transmission.
  • Dining and food service providers will be open, and more details on those services will be provided later.
  • We recognize the importance of student clubs and professional society activities and want those to continue, albeit in ways that are consistent with our overall campus health and facility use plans.
  • The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference will make their decision regarding fall competition seasons in July. In the meantime, some of our student athletes are beginning voluntary training and conditioning sessions on-campus with coaches and trainers.
  • All Orediggers will continue to have access to a wide range of services, support, guidance and resources—online and in-person. Individual advising, counseling, career services, tutoring and many more offerings will continue to be offered as safely as possible and often via video-conferencing tools.

Restarting Research

  • This pandemic slowed many research activities. Thanks to the work underway, as well as reduced restrictions at the state and local levels, we have been carefully reopening many of our labs and research programs. While enabling graduate students and faculty to resume their research has been the priority these past few months, we are now working to enable in-person undergraduate research. As is always the case in lab and research settings, all students and faculty will be required to abide by required safety protocols—which will include wearing masks and adherence to social-distancing guidance.

A Required Commitment to Climbing Together

We are returning to campus and classes on August 24—still in the middle of a global pandemic and much uncertainty for the future—only because we know our community will do what is required, even when difficult. If anyone possesses the grit, tenacity and unselfishness required to do what’s needed, day in and day out, it is an Oredigger. It is you.

When we return to campus, we must all pledge to keep ourselves and one another safe. Most students may be in the low-risk group with respect to COVID-19 impacts, but others in our community are not. We also have to think of our faculty and staff and their immediate families. Even if you have little worry for yourself, please think of them. The choices we individually make this fall truly need to be from an altruistic and unselfish perspective.

We will call our pledge the Oredigger Promise. We will hang it on the walls within campus buildings to remind each other (and occasionally, ourselves) of this commitment, but also of the tremendous community to which we all belong. While there’s more to add to it – we’ll want your help with that – here’s the foundation we’ll be building from. Let us know what you think:

The Oredigger Promise: We Climb Together

Orediggers climb together. Orediggers look out for each other.

It will take a shared commitment from each and every one of us to stop the spread of COVID-19, open campus and be together at Mines this year.

We take great pride in being a top engineering and applied sciences university, and we will strive to be the exemplar in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in a university setting.

Therefore, as a member of the Oredigger community, I promise to protect my classmates and colleagues, our families and neighbors and myself by adopting the practices and attitudes summarized below. I will:

  • Complete training sessions to learn required safety practices and expectations for learning, working and living on campus.
  • Monitor my health daily. I will report to a medical professional if I experience any of the COVID-19 symptoms: fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chills, unusual muscle aches, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell.
  • Stay home if I have COVID-19-related symptoms, even if I feel well enough to come to campus.
  • Isolate and self-quarantine for the prescribed period of time after exposure to someone who is ill or has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Maintain appropriate social distancing in all settings, both on and off campus.
  • Wear an appropriate face covering over my mouth and nose when indoors and in any other setting where it is difficult to maintain social distancing, and use any other protective gear as directed by the university.
  • Wash my hands frequently using soap and water or (or if not available, hand sanitizer). Contribute to the cleaning of classroom spaces and other surfaces, as requested.
  • Carefully observe and follow campus and building instructional signs and directions.
  • Participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing to preserve the wellness of the community.
  • Be positive and gracious when others provide safety reminders and suggestions.
  • Be attentive and helpful to anyone who may be in need of support.

Looking Ahead

There’s much more to tell you. We’ve updated the Mines Climbs Together website to include additional details, as well as FAQ resources that will grow and change almost daily. And as other details emerge, we’ll be back in touch directly.

Before we let you go back to your Summer II classes or other pursuits, we want to thank you again for your patience and perseverance over these past few months. We are grateful for and buoyed by your enthusiasm for Mines and for one another. And please, join us in thanking your professors for their efforts and Mines’ dedicated staff for theirs.

The road before us has its challenges, but this is a community that clips in and climbs together. We can reassemble this fall because we can rely upon one another to do the work that requires. That says so much about Mines—and about you.

We’ll be back in touch and see you soon. Until then,

Go Orediggers!

Paul C. Johnson, President and Professor
Richard Holz, Provost and Professor
Kirsten M. Volpi, Executive Vice President/ and Chief Operating Officer
Dan Fox, Vice President for Student Life
Stefanie Tompkins, Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer