M State campuses open, ready for fall semester

July 30, 2020

Minnesota State Community and Technical College’s four campuses are open and prepared to welcome new and returning students to both on-campus and online classes when fall semester begins Monday, August 24.

“Some of our classes may look different than ‘traditional’ college classes, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality education that students can expect at M State,” said Dr. Matt Borcherding, dean of the college’s School of Science and Mathematics. "There is much that's uncertain going into the fall, but students can be certain our staff and faculty are ready to support and teach them."

M State plans to offer its courses online, on-campus and in a hybrid format, with a combination of online and face-to-face meetings. For courses that require in-person labs, such as diesel technology, nursing and science labs, detailed safety and cleaning measures are being developed.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority,” Borcherding said. “We’ve been measuring labs and rooms to ensure a six-foot distance between students, and we’re requiring facemasks of all students, staff, faculty and visitors to our campuses.”

When schools nationwide were suddenly forced to move all classes online last spring, Borcherding said M State was in a better position than many other colleges because of its long experience with online education.

“We’ve been doing online since 2004, so we’ve had 16 years of practice leading up to this shift,” he said. “That’s why last spring we moved 97 percent of our courses to online in very short order. In fact, success rates last spring were ever so slightly higher than spring 2019.”

Over the summer, staff have been preparing to deliver support services to students in a variety of ways, and the college’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology continued to help faculty plan for online teaching. The center is focused on training in areas including online communication, humanizing online courses, and equity and inclusion in online classes.

“The faculty have been great over the summer,” Borcherding said. “Should we need to switch to fully online as the pandemic changes our landscape, our instructors are ready and can pivot quickly.”

Knowing that some students might not be comfortable with online courses, M State is aiming to provide all students with the support they need. The college offered a specialized free student success course over the summer, and options during fall semester will include on-campus tutoring, online tutoring and Zoom tutoring tutorials.

Advisors and other student services staff in areas such as financial aid are available to meet in person with students, but online or phone meetings are also an option.

Ongoing in August are virtual information sessions where prospective students can meet with faculty and virtual campus tours (minnesota.edu/visit) and 1Stop2Enroll sessions where students can apply to M State, get accepted and register for courses (minnesota.edu/1stop2enroll).

“Students can be confident we put their safety first, but we’ll also deliver high-quality education,” Borcherding said.

M State offers more than 80 transfer and career programs on its campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena.