By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After a two-week delay, the University of Minnesota will reopen campus dormitories Sept. 9 in Duluth, and Sept. 15 in the Twin Cities.

But the reopening is under such strict guidelines that even university president Joan Gabel admits it won’t be much fun.

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During the first ten days, Twin Cities students can only leave their dorm rooms to go to classes, to eat, to go to jobs or to go outdoors. They can’t go to other dorms, nearby businesses or off-campus residences.

On Sept. 25, those restrictions will ease, but for two weeks on there will be a 9 p.m. curfew in dorms. Then for two weeks starting Oct. 9, curfew will start at midnight — and that is only if all goes well.

“We’re striking the balance between something that feels imprisoning. We don’t want that. We want students to be able to enjoy campus life,” Gabel said.

If all doesn’t go well, there will be rollbacks.

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Gabel made the announcement at a Minnesota State Senate hearing Tuesday. Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska) is also a physician, and said the restrictions could hurt the mental health of students.

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“It sounded to me like a stay-at-home plan in a 12-foot-by-15-foot dormitory room,” Jensen said.

President Gabel did not go into detail about how the new rules would be enforced. Some U students WCCO spoke with, including Reily Werness and Matt Winans, say they are skeptical.

“I don’t know how they’re going to enforce it, basically,” Werness said.

“I would hate something like that, it would be really tough. I would find any way to kind of not do it,” Winans said.

Gabel admitted that the start of the return will be tough.

“I don’t think I could be anything but honest with you to say that that first period is not going to be much fun,” she said.

But Gabel says the tough start is the only way to get back to the new normal of a campus in the midst of a pandemic.

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A U spokesperson said an enforcement plan is still being worked out, but students who violate the new rules could be disciplined.

Esme Murphy