The state Board of Higher Education is moving toward having students back on the 11 state campuses this fall.
The campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have gone to on-line courses.
Wednesday, the Board unanimously passed a motion to that effect, as a statement of the Board’s intent.
Board president Nick Hacker said the intent is that campuses will take necessary precaution to protect the students, faculty and staff from the continued pandemic. He said it is still the overall goal of higher education to serve the students.
"In a purely on-line educational environment, the indications are many students don't thrive or succeed," Hacker said at the Board meeting. "The learning environment we're coming to know as the most effective seems to be 'experiential learning.' That happens in an academic setting, that allows for labs, collaboration with other students, collaboration with faculty, and so on."
The student member of the Board supported the motion.
"I appreciate the idea of giving students this level of certainty on what their future will look like," said Caleb Dschaak.
North Dakota Council of College Faculty representative Debra Dragseth, of Dickinson State University, said the faculty she has visited with are "motivated" to get back in the classroom.
"This is not a good way to teach for most of us," Dragseth said. "For most of us, it is really stressful."
The Board also said it’s possible to have students in certain fields that require hands-on learning to be back on campus this summer.
The Board will have a further discussion about it at its May meeting.