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Winter Break Guide 2020

Updated 11/19/2020

Fall semester classes conclude November 25. Finals will take place remotely December 1–4. 

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order on November 18 that prohibits any social gatherings with others outside of your household. A household is defined as anyone within your immediate family or those within your assigned residence hall or apartment community. This executive order is effective November 21 through at least December 18. 

We know that these times together are really important, and in an ongoing pandemic with widespread transmission, the safest option is to adhere to prevention strategies that help protect family, friends, and entire communities.

Check out the resources below for tips on attending or hosting gatherings, safe travel, what’s open on campus during breaks, and other resources.


Strongly consider alternatives to in-person gatherings:

  • Have a virtual holiday celebration.
    • Do all the decorating and make all the food, then show it off to your friends and family.
    • Play trivia or other games together online. 
    • Send care packages and open them together on video.
  • Plan a dinner with the people who live with you. 
    • If you don’t have access to a kitchen, check out local grocery stores or restaurants that offer Thanksgiving dinner for takeout.
  • Skip parties, per the State of Minnesota’s executive order. Crowds and drinking have been associated with outbreaks of COVID-19. Keep in mind that restaurants and bars are limited to take-out only.
  • Determine whether you would be able to miss work, school, or other activities if you get sick.

If planning to host or attend social gatherings:

  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order on November 18 that prohibits any social gatherings with others outside of your household, which includes anyone other than your immediate family or those within your assigned residence hall or apartment community, through at least December 18. 
  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., cough, fever, shortness of breath) or who has been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days should quarantine or isolate.
  • Before the gathering, establish the expectation that everyone wears a face covering and takes other precautions. Reconsider attending gatherings if you are unable to lay low before gathering, which is two weeks prior.
  • Maintain physical distance from others as much as possible.
  • Limit the gathering to your immediate household (it’s a Governor’s order!) or with those in your assigned residence hall or apartment community. 
  • Choose activities that you can do while still staying a safe physical distance and wearing masks, preferably outdoors.

Traveling (only if you must)

If you are thinking about traveling away from campus or your local community during the break, it is important to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Traveling can put people at greater risk of getting sick. On Thursday, November 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all Americans to refrain from traveling.

Before you travel:

  • Lie low before you go. Plan to stay at home or in your residence hall and interact only with the people in your household for at least 14 days. 
  • Find out how much COVID-19 is spreading (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota) where you are traveling. In some cases, COVID-19 transmission may be higher at your destination than it is where you are currently located.
  • Know whether you, someone you are traveling with, or someone you are visiting are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Think about how easy or difficult it will be to keep 6 feet between people you are traveling with (like carpools or public transportation).

When you arrive at your destination:

  • Only interact with your family or immediate household with whom you are staying.
  • Stay 6 feet away from anyone you do not live with, and wear a face covering. 
  • Avoid high-risk situations like events and parties.
  • Get tested if you believe you have been exposed or develop symptoms, and stay home and away from others if you become sick.

If you return to on- or off-campus housing:

  • Lie low for the 2 weeks after you return to campus. 
  • Get tested 5–7 days following your return and follow these guidelines:
    • If your test is negative, continue to quarantine for the full 14 days. 
    • If you test positive for COVID-19 and live on campus, please contact Health Service
    • If you test positive and live off campus, isolate for up to 10 additional days or until your fever — if you had one — is gone for 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medications. 


While testing is not a prevention strategy, it is an important tool when responding to concerns surrounding a COVID-19 exposure.

  • Once exposed, it can take 3–7 days to determine if you have been infected. 
    • This is why timing is key. Test too soon, and your test may come back negative while you actually are carrying the virus.
  • If your test comes back positive, isolate and notify individuals you may have exposed. 
  • If you are negative, avoid situations where physical distancing and masking isn’t being followed. Otherwise, the cycle will begin again.
  • If you are seeking testing, contact Health Service or your health care provider first.

Let's Thrive Tips for Winter Break Wellness

Morris Let’s Thrive is a holistic campus initiative infusing evidence-based mental health and wellbeing practices, skill building, information and resources into UMN Morris students’ curricular and co-curricular life. They've put together the following tips to support student success and wellbeing during the break: 

  1. Prepare yourself. Think about expectations on both your family's end and yours. This may have changed after being on your own, and it could be useful to have a discussion about what to expect from each other when you're home. Topics may include curfews, helping around the house, or the amount of family interaction that's expected. 
  2. Set a goal. Is there something that you've been meaning to do but haven't had time because of academic constraints? Examples could include writing up your resume, learning a new skill like meditation, exercising, or something else. This will help you structure your time and give you purpose over break. You might even consider involving your family in these goals, if it fits. 
  3. Communicate with your family. Offer authentic listening by summarizing and validating those you are interacting with at home and authentic speaking by sharing your experience, how it made you feel, expressing and asking for what you want or need. Effective communication runs both ways. 
  4. Balance your time. Balance your family time with other things that will meet your individual needs as well such as time with friends, or alone time to read, do art, listen to music or work on other things.
  5. Maintain connections with your college friends. Try to give some time for maintaining the relationships you are building at college. Connect via text, phone, social media, or a zoom call here and there.