NewsCoronavirus

Actions

Montana University System moves to online courses due to coronavirus

KXLH-Default-Image-1280x720.png
Posted at 2:43 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 16:43:36-04

Montana colleges will be going to online teaching later this month as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country.

University of Montana President Seth Bodnar said in a letter sent out on Thursday that beginning on March 23 all Montana University System campuses will be replacing in-class teaching “or other remote teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence."



Dear UM Family,


As you know, for the past several weeks we have been preparing plans to transition to remote instruction due to COVID-19. Throughout this process we have been closely coordinating with state and local officials. The Commissioner’s Office, working with Gov. Bullock, has just announced that all MUS campuses, effective March 23, will transition to remote delivery.

Please read the Commissioner’s guidance in full here [umt.edu] .

Key points are as follows:

  • As of March 23, all MUS campuses will, in every instance possible, transition all in-class instruction to online or other remote teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. Individual departments, colleges, and universities should provide all material assistance and accommodation possible to faculty and students throughout this transition.

  • MUS campuses will remain open and operational for students. This includes residence halls, dining services, computer labs, and most other campus services. Employees will continue to report to work unless instructed otherwise or work-from-home accommodations are developed in individual cases.

  • To protect public health, MUS campuses will implement appropriate social distancing measures in line with CDC guidelines and recommendations. This should include restrictions on large lectures, theater performances, academic conferences, and other large gatherings.

  • All MUS students and employees need to monitor their official email address for more communications and planning details between now and March 23rd.


Seth Bodnar
University of Montana President



Clayton Christian, the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, made the announcement on Thursday, March 12, and it will go into effect on March 23.

Christian said the decision was made in partnership with the Board of Regents, and applies to all MUS campuses. The directive also states that all MUS campuses will remain open and operational for students, including residence halls, dining services, and most other campus services. Employees of MUS will continue working unless instructed otherwise.

The directive also says that all MUS campuses will "implement appropriate social distancing measures in line with CDC guidelines and recommendations," including restrictions on large lectures, theater performances, academic conferences, and other large gatherings. The measures will remain in effect until further notice, according to Christian.

The 16 MUS campuses are:

  • University of Montana (Missoula)
  • Missoula College
  • Bitterroot College (Hamilton)
  • Montana Tech (Butte)
  • Western (Dillon)
  • Helena College-UM
  • Montana State University (Bozeman)
  • Gallatin College-MSU
  • Billings City College at MSU Billings
  • MSU Northern (Havre)
  • Great Falls College-MSU
  • Dawson Community College
  • Miles City Community College
  • Tribal Colleges

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 actually in Montana. Here is the latest update from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services as of Wednesday morning.

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 actually in Montana. Here is the latest update from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services as of Wednesday morning.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article included Flathead Valley Community College was among the schools transitioning to online learning. That information was incorrect. We apologize for the error.



Additional information about coronavirus can be found on the CDC's website , including the following:

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk to the general public from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people; the severity of resulting illness; and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness). That this disease has caused severe illness, including illness resulting in death is concerning, especially since it has also shown sustained person-to-person spread in several places. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus.

It is important to note that current circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC’s risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Current risk assessment:

  • For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.

CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.