MISSOULA – At the direction of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, the University of Montana will switch to online and remote learning methods March 23. This move is in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
“The health and safety of the campus community and broader Missoula community are paramount,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “We are working collaboratively to minimize disruptions while keeping the health of our community the top priority.”
In a statement from his office, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian said the health of Montana’s campus communities remain the top priority. In partnership with the state Board of Regents and Montana University System, he directed MUS campuses to implement the following decisions as soon as possible:
- 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 reporting to work unless instructed otherwise. Work-from-home accommodations may be developed in individual cases.
- To protect public health, MUS campuses will implement appropriate social distancing measures in line with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 addresses for more communications and planning details between now and March 23.
Christian said these decisions are in effect until further notice.
“Our COVID-19 challenge remains fluid, however, and as our campus communities prepare for spring break, it is our responsibility to establish the current course of action while also preparing for new circumstances as they emerge,” he said. “If and when we consider a return to face-to-face instruction, we will provide as much advance notice as possible and clear instructions for an orderly return to normal operations.”
Christian said his office will continue to consult with Gov. Steve Bullock, the Montana Board of Regents, health authorities and other statewide partners to assess current policies.
“I ask that every campus leader be ready to answer questions and provide relevant information in a timely manner to students, faculty and staff,” Christian said. “I do not take these decisions lightly. I am committed to supporting the educational progress of our students and minimizing disruption to campus life whenever possible.
“I believe that the course of action outlined above is the best way to balance our commitment to protect the public health and safety of our students, employees and communities.”