Executive Order 20-56 Guidance
The content of this page is not current with the guidelines provided in the latest Emergency Executive Order signed by Governor Tim Walz. Please refer to Executive Order 21-01 Guidance for the most recent update.
Executive Order 20-56 permits postsecondary institutions (defined as a critical sector industry in executive order 20-48 paragraph 6z) to offer in-person classes or activities (credit or non-credit) of 10 individuals or less effective May 18, if those services cannot be provided through a distance learning model and contingent on institutions meeting the requirements outlined in the requirements section below. Education and training programs not registered or licensed with the Office of Higher Education or operated by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and University of Minnesota systems should follow the guidance by the state agency or board under which they are authorized to operate.
Which programs/classes/students can resume activity?
Postsecondary institutions can conduct in-person classes (credit and non-credit) and activities (ex., testing, student services, advising, internships, clinical rotations, customized training, campus visits, etc.) across all programs to all students, as long as:
- those services cannot be provided through a distance learning model
- the group size is no larger than 10 (including instructors)
- institutions meet the requirements outlined in the requirements section below.
EO 20-56 permits postsecondary institutions to begin in-person classes and activities effective May 18, and continues until rescinded. Prior to offering in-person classes or activities, postsecondary institutions need to meet all the requirements in the requirements section below. To be clear, finishing any spring semester in-person instruction for students not covered by EO 20-52, as well as new summer or fall courses that require in-person instruction would be permitted under EO 20-56.
In order to offer in-person activities or classes of 10 individuals or less (if those services cannot be provided through a distance learning model) postsecondary institutions must:
- Establish and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (“Plan”). Each Plan must provide for the institutions' implementation of Minnesota OSHA Standards and MDH and CDC Guidelines in their workplaces. A template COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, which covers the above requirements, is available as part of the Plan Guidance, available on DEED's website (https://mn.gov/deed/safework/). At a minimum, each Plan must adequately address the following areas:
- Require distance learning wherever possible. All Plans must ensure that distance learning continues if possible. When in-person classes or activities are required, they should be limited to 10 individuals (including students, faculty, and staff).
- Ensure that sick students and institution staff and instructors stay home. All Plans must establish policies and procedures, including health screenings, that prevent sick students or institution staff and instructors from entering the institution for in-person or on-site activities.
- Social distancing. All Plans must establish social distancing policies and procedures set forth by the CDC and MDH. Plans must also include signage in common areas to discourage gathering. Additionally, plans should encourage all faculty, staff, students, and visitors to wear masks or face coverings.
- Cleaning and disinfection protocols. All Plans must establish cleaning and disinfection protocols for areas within the institution where students and staff and instructors may visit, and provide an enhanced sanitizing, cleaning, and disinfecting regimen consistent with Minnesota OSHA Standards and MDH and CDC Guidelines for common areas.
- Certification and signature. Institutional leadership responsible for implementing the Plan must sign and certify the Plan, affirming their commitment to implement and follow the Plan.
- Dissemination and posting. A higher education institution must provide its Plan to all students and staff and instructors who will be in the building. The Plan must be posted in all classrooms, labs, or other places where students or staff and instructors may visit. Where physical posting is impracticable, the Plan can be posted electronically, provided that the Plan is disseminated to all students and staff and instructors.
- Training. Higher education institutions must ensure that training is provided to staff and instructors on the contents of their Plan and required procedures, so that all staff and instructors understand and are able to perform the precautions necessary to protect themselves and the students. This training should be easy to understand and available in the appropriate language and literacy level for all staff and instructors. Documentation demonstrating compliance with this training requirement must be maintained and made available to regulatory authorities and public safety officers, including the Office of Higher Education and Department of Health, upon request.
Understanding EO 20-52 & EO 20-56
EO 20-52, which authorized postsecondary students in their final term in critical sectors to participate in in-person classes and activities at postsecondary institutions in order to complete a postsecondary credential (see OHE's EO 20-52 guidance) will remain in place under EO 20-56.
EO 20-56 broadens who and what programs can participate in postsecondary in-person classes and activities by removing two restrictions present in EO 20-52:
- The program limits ‐under EO 20-56 all programs (not just programs aligned with critical sectors) are eligible to offer in-person classes and activities (if they can't be delivered remotely).
- The requirement that students be in their final term to participate in in-person classes and activities ‐under EO 20-56 all students are eligible to participate in in-person classes and activities (if they can't be delivered remotely).
EO 20-56 also adds a restriction not present in EO 20-52:
- EO 20-56 limits the number of individuals present during in-person classes or instruction to 10 or less (including students, staff, and faculty).