Below you will find an updated list of the emails, messages and updates from Montana State University regarding COVID-19. Click on the headings for each month to expand a list of communications sent during that time.

Text of communications

Below is a running list of communications sent from Montana State University regarding COVID-19.

Sent 6/1/20 at 10:56 a.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

For the past six weeks, the Montana University System's Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force has been working to develop a blueprint to help the state's campuses as we develop plans to mitigate risk as we return to campus life this fall.

Today, that task force will publish its guidelines, which will provide protocols and recommendations intended to help the entire University System, including our University Reconstitution Committee as it crafts MSU-specific plans for the fall semester.

The Task Force's guidelines are a result of extensive research and discussion, as well as feedback from experts across the University System, students, employees and administrators. The guidelines have also been reviewed by officials from Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services to ensure they follow the best public health advice available.

You are welcome to review the Task Force's handbook, which is posted to the Montana University System's website. Please keep in mind that guidance provided in this handbook does not offer details specific to Montana State; it is a high-level document which will inform our planning process and that of other MUS campuses.

As planning continues at MSU, please know that we will provide you with more details as they become available. You can provide input to the process by contacting the members of the University Reconstitution Committee. Their contact information is listed on MSU's COVID-19 website.

I wish you and your families good health and a restful summer. I look very much forward to seeing you again this fall.

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 5/29/20 at 11:37 a.m.

University Human Resources

Dear MSU Community,

Planning for fall semester continues as we prepare for students to return to campus. The summer months are when critical work is accomplished before we welcome new and returning students to MSU. We want to outline expectations for staff as summer continues, especially now that the state of Montana will move into the second phase of reopening on Monday, June 1.

We encourage employees to continue their gradual return to work on campus. Many employees already returned during May, and we look forward to seeing more staff working on campus in June. We ask supervisors in every unit to craft staff schedules outlining who will be working on-site, where they will be working, and when. Human Resources has created a template that can be used for this purpose, which is available by visiting montana.edu/hr and clicking on "Work Schedule Template." Please work with your immediate supervisor to determine your schedule and work arrangement, as those must be approved. All supervisors should consult with HR if there are questions about an employee's return to work on campus.

We have posted additional guidance for employees returning to campus on the COVID-19 website. As staff return, we want to limit gatherings and face-to-face interactions between employees present on campus. To accomplish this, departments should consider scheduling staff on alternating days as much as possible. Supervisors should also consider staggered reporting and departing times for employees to reduce traffic in common areas and to meet physical distancing requirements. Workspaces should be set up to allow for appropriate physical distancing, and we encourage virtual meetings, even while working on campus. In addition, the university highly encourages employees working on campus to wear non-medical cloth face coverings. Last, the university is following cleaning and sanitization protocols consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

If you have concerns about returning to campus for work due to a medical condition or other factors that place you at a higher risk, or if you wish to seek ADA reasonable accommodation related to returning to the workplace, you should contact your HR business partner or the university's ADA Coordinator (adacoordinator@montana.edu). HR will initiate a review and will work with employees to determine any appropriate accommodations. Please reach out as soon as possible to begin this process.

Sincerely,

Jeannette Grey Gilbert
Chief Human Resources Officer
Montana State University
406-994-4284
jeannette.greygilbert@montana.edu

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Sent 5/21/20 at 4:54 p.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing as a follow-up to the messages that you been received over the last week from the Office of the MSU Provost on Planning for Fall Courses and Course Scheduling. The purpose of this message is to call attention to courses that are delivered in Special Use spaces - that is, space designed and outfitted for specialized use. Such spaces include instructional laboratories, studios, practice rooms, maker spaces, and so forth. 

Physical distancing capacities in these spaces have been provided in the updated Classroom Audit Physical Distancing Capacity spreadsheets attached to the email that you received on Tuesday May 19 (4:54 PM). It should be recognized that the physical distancing recommendations are intended to guide situations in which individuals are situated in essentially fixed positions over periods of more than 15 minutes, rather than when they may be passing by one another or briefly adjacent. The delivery of courses in these spaces – in sections populated at prescribed caps – while adhering to anticipated practices of physical distancing needed to reduce health risks to our faculty, staff, and students, will take some considerable planning and innovation. Planning will need to go beyond the templates provided earlier and include protocols for the various operations carried out in the space.

We recognize that this planning will take time. Accordingly, we would like to begin discussions with the faculty who will be the instructors of record in these courses and with all staff whose duties include coordination of these courses. To being that process, we ask that you provide information to us, using spreadsheet template Box Folder that had been used to provide the “OCHE course report” just one month ago, now renamed Special Use Instructional Space. Please upload a copy of that spreadsheet with your own unit’s information under the title: “Special Use Instructional Space – ‘Unit Name’”, where ‘Unit Name’ is the name of your unit.

The information requested includes:

  • Course Rubric
  • Course Number
  • Section Type (B, D, …)
  • Number of Sections
  • Responsible Instructor
  • Responsible Manager (Staff)

To assist you in this process a version of the Classroom Audit Physical Distancing Capacity spreadsheets, filtered to Special Use spaces (named “Special Use Space Audit 20.05.13”) will also be found in the Box Folder. Please be sure to include information about pertinent courses in rooms missing from the list.

CFE will establish working groups for faculty and staff to exchange ideas about course innovations in course design and delivery. We look forward to your list of courses, faculty, and staff so that we can reach out to them to stimulate this exchange of ideas. We recognize that many of you have already started this planning, and look forward to provide a venue for you to share ideas. As plans for the use of these special spaces are consolidated, we will collect them so that documentation is available to interested parties.

Once again, thank you for your excellence in providing outstanding educational opportunities to our students during these challenging times.

Best,

David J. Singel
Senior Vice Provost
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Montana State University
On behalf of the Academic Continuity and Contingency Task Force

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Sent 5/20/20 at 4:49 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

Last week, we announced new dates for the Fall 2020 semester. The first day of classes will be Monday, Aug. 17, and the last day of finals will end Wednesday, Nov. 25, at noon. This calendar will allow MSU students to complete their fall academic schedule without shortening the semester. Commencement has been scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 22, and on that day, we will celebrate the accomplishments of both our Fall 2020 Class and our Spring 2020 Class. We appreciate the positive feedback we have received and your flexibility in using the next months to prepare for the launch of the 2020-21 academic year.

Our fall semester will provide students with the opportunity for in-person instruction in classrooms, laboratories and studios. In addition, remote options and combinations of in-person and remote options will be available as well. MSU will use physical distancing in classrooms and other COVID-19 adaptations to reduce the risk to students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests. We will keep you up to date as we get closer to the start of the semester.

Board of Regents Approves the Construction of the MSU Student Wellness Center

Today, the Board of Regents of the Montana University System authorized the design and construction of the MSU Student Wellness Center to replace the fitness center that was lost last year and to create new spaces for student health services. The total estimated cost of the project is $60 million. Insurance proceeds from the loss of the fitness center will pay for nearly two-thirds of the project cost. The remainder will come from non-public funds and a fee that was recently approved by a vote of MSU students as well as the Board of Regents. This facility will promote a holistic approach to taking care of the physical and mental health of our students. Congratulations to all those who have worked so hard on the approval of this project!

Governor Bullock Announces Phase 2 of Reopening Montana

Yesterday, Montana Governor Bullock announced the second phase of the reopening of the state of Montana will begin June 1. Among other important changes, this second phases lifts the requirement for a 14-day quarantine for out-of-state travelers. These changes will be applicable locally, pending adoption by the Gallatin City-County Health Department at their meeting scheduled for Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Fitness Center Reopening

Phase 2 of the governor's recent directive provides new guidance regarding gyms. In accordance with the executive order, our own Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center will reopen on Monday, June 1, with the necessary COVID-19 mitigation procedures and safety adaptations in place, including physical distancing and frequent cleaning and sanitation throughout the day. Fitness center hours will run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There will be no weekend hours until further notice. I wish to thank the staff at Recreational Sports and Fitness and Sports Facilities for their dedicated work in preparing for reopening. More details about the fitness center's plans will be posted in coming days at http://www.montana.edu/getfit/.

MSU Museum of the Rockies Reopening

The Museum of the Rockies will open to the general public on Wednesday, June 3 and will operate Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. using a reservation system via a soon-to-be-published link on the museum's website. If availability allows, walk-in members and visitors will be admitted. More details will be posted on the museum's website soon at https://www.museumoftherockies.org/visit

As always, this and other important communications related to the COVID-19 pandemic are archived on MSU's COVID-19 website

I continue to be amazed at how Bobcats are adapting and overcoming the challenges of this situation. Thank you very much for all you do, dear Bobcats!

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 5/15/20 at 9:23 a.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

As you just read in the President's email to campus, we will be starting Fall Semester 2020 two weeks earlier than scheduled, which aligns with guidelines provided to the Montana University System from Commissioner Christian. The first day of classes will be Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 rather than Monday, Aug. 31. Additionally, the semester will end on Wednesday, Nov. 25.  

For faculty, this means the 2020-2021 academic contract year will span from Monday, August 10, 2020 to May 10, 2021. 

In addition to the calendar adjustments, we will be implementing many good hygiene measures to reduce the risk of infection spread to students, faculty and staff in the classroom and on campus. Classroom seating will be separated by 6 feet. Meticulous adherence to public health practices and protocols will be implemented and communicated widely and regularly to faculty, students and staff including items such as hand washing, physical distancing, proper cough/sneeze etiquette, frequent disinfection of common and high traffic areas, symptom assessment, personal temperature checking (if vulnerable) and face coverings in public.

With your creative and innovative efforts, we will offer a range of in-person, online and blended course options to reduce the density of students in our classrooms. We are examining many other steps to reduce risk, including enhanced cleaning protocols and other social distancing measures. We will continue to communicate these plans over the summer.

Throughout the summer and more intensively during the week of August 10, before classes begin, the Center for Faculty Excellence and Academic Technology and Outreach will be providing training for online and blended teaching, as well as training and guidance on social distancing in the classroom and sanitation practices for faculty. Faculty can check the Center for Faculty Excellence website regularly and watch for messages on CFE programming throughout the summer. 

We ask faculty to please plan to be here and work with CFE and ATO during this time to be sure that you are ready to begin your classes practiced in new pedagogy and classroom management. We will strive to help you be prepared for, and be successful with, a semester unlike any we've ever experienced.

Montana State, your university, is working hard to mitigate the risk factors for students, faculty and staff while fulfilling our educational, research and outreach mission - a mission that is more important now than ever to our students, our state, nation and world.

I am so grateful to you for your effort this spring semester. I know it wasn't easy. Planning and work around preparing for fall will continue throughout the summer. I appreciate the efforts of many faculty and staff who have already volunteered to make themselves available to participate in identifying solutions to the challenges we face in our preparations. We look forward to your partnership this coming fall.

Sincerely,

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

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Sent 5/15/20 at 9:13 a.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

Yesterday, Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian provided additional guidance for a healthy return to campus for the Fall 2020 Semester. In order to help reduce the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus, campuses are encouraged to plan and design an academic calendar that allows for the completion of the fall semester by Wednesday, Nov. 25.

We are proud of the fact that the state of Montana has implemented successfully a number of executive directives that have resulted in one of the lowest rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the nation. At Montana State University, we want to continue doing our best job in terms of mitigation while balancing the need to reestablish full academic functions for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff. Therefore, in adopting these adjustments to the academic calendar, we want to share this information with you as soon as possible so that you can plan accordingly in the next 90 days.

In the interest of protecting the safety of our constituents and providing students with a top-quality education, the first day of classes for the fall semester will be Monday, Aug. 17.

Starting two weeks earlier gives the campus optimal conditions: taking advantage of a period of expected lower case rates as well as excellent weather, which positions us better to complete the academic work of the semester in its entirety. Given the amount of planning that has been conducted already, Montana State will be prepared to implement extensive mitigation plans, including education and hygiene measures, screening and, when necessary, quarantine plans for students who live in campus residence halls. Montana State University is also in coordination with city, county and state public health entities to identify effective protocols for testing and screening.

Following the Commissioner's guidance, this also means the Fall Semester will end earlier. Final exams — the last day of the semester — will be concluded on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving. 

So that graduates can spend Thanksgiving with their families — and to facilitate access to air travel accommodations for loved ones who live out of state — Montana State University has tentatively marked Sunday, Nov. 22, as the date for our Winter Commencement celebration, dependent of course upon public health considerations at that time. As has been the case since our foundation 127 years ago, graduating seniors will need to complete the necessary academic requirements in order to obtain their degrees, but they will be able to participate, in this case, in the Winter Commencement Ceremony.

In addition to the public health benefits outlined above, the adjusted dates eliminate the need for students, faculty and staff travel between the Thanksgiving holiday and the conclusion of the semester. With these new dates, the campus will wrap up the semester on Wednesday, Nov. 25, for a winter break that will last until the start of Spring Semester 2021 on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. 

We are excited to share that this alternative also opens the additional possibility of offering a winter session (preliminarily, we are calling it the "MSU Snow-mester") with select online courses students need to stay on track, catch up or simply take advantage of the extended winter break. Please stay tuned for specific information in the very near future.

According to public health officials, this plan will help reduce campus and community density — and therefore virus transmission — during the typical late fall and early winter influenza season. It is another step forward in keeping the safety of our students, faculty and staff as our paramount priority while also fulfilling the mission of our land-grant university.

To summarize, the important dates mentioned in this memo for the 2020-21 Academic Calendar:

  • Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 - First Day of Classes for the Fall Semester
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 - Last Day of Classes for the Fall Semester
  • Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020 - Fall Commencement Ceremony
  • Monday, Jan. 11, 2021 - First Day of Classes for the Spring Semester 

The decisions described in this message were not made lightly and are based on public health guidelines and protocols to mitigate the risk of infection. These decisions were made in consultation with, and with the endorsement of, Faculty Senate Leadership, and included input from the Academic Continuity Task Force, the University Reconstitution Committee and reviewed by the university executive leadership as well as the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. 

Additionally, we consulted with the Bozeman School District, the Gallatin City-County Health Department, ASMSU leadership and the university's own health care professionals. We also took into consideration feedback from students and faculty this spring semester that finding a safe way to provide a quality, on-campus, in-person education was preferred, when possible. I know our students miss us and we certainly miss our students.

We recognize that these decisions might impact some of your previous plans. Please know those disruptions are not lost on us, and we sincerely appreciate your flexibility and collaboration. With the COVID-19 situation, we have learned to choose not between a good and a bad option, but rather between options that will afford the best long-term benefits for the largest number of people in our communities.

I acknowledge that, given the promptness of this communication, we all have questions and situations to address. We will follow up with more pertinent information in coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to ensure that you received this information, as well as my heartfelt gratitude, as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 5/13/20 at 1:31 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

Congratulations on finishing one of the most challenging semesters in our 127 years of institutional existence! Like many of you, I was nostalgic last Saturday when we did not meet for our Commencement ceremony. It was the first time in 30 years that I did not don my regalia to celebrate the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. 

These days, it is normal for us to navigate amidst difficult and sometimes contradictory emotions. Among the strongest is the feeling of uncertainty of what the future holds for all of us. This one is balanced by another strong sentiment, which is our sense of relief and gratitude for the health and safety of our loved ones, our community members and the greater community of Montana State University. 

Now that the spring semester is behind us, I want for us to focus -- in an even more deliberate manner -- on the university's future plans, by sharing pertinent information, beginning with this email today. These emails will come out each week and will cover specific topics about how MSU will conduct its operations in the near future, reinforcing previous communications made during the hectic days between spring break and the end of the semester.

These emails will reside on the university's main COVID-19 webpage, where all of the university's communications are archived and a wide range of information is available.

When the COVID-19 emergency reached our campus in early March, two main groups were in charge of recommending specific actions for the day-to-day operations. They were the Incident Command System (ICS), which was in charge of identifying the initial response to the emergency, and the Institutional Response Group, which was responsible for making the necessary decisions for continuity of operations. Together, these groups addressed institutional priorities, protecting the health, safety and welfare of all campus constituencies. Now that the main objectives of those groups have been fulfilled, they will go into remission until a future emergency (hopefully a long time from now). My profound sense of gratitude to each member of these two very important groups that enabled us to complete the Spring semester in a successful manner.

Moving forward, planning for the summer and fall semesters is well under way and I want to share with you a description of our planning structure for the next phase of reconstitution of operations. An organization of the size and complexity of Montana State University requires careful and consultative planning. There are seven working groups addressing specific areas of strategic importance for the university. Each working group advances its recommendations to the University Reconstitution Committee, which is co-chaired by Robert Mokwa, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Terry Leist, Vice President of Administration and Finance. The URC has seven members and is an advisory committee to myself and the executive team.

The University Reconstitution Committee reviews recommendations made by the seven working groups and advances those recommendations on to me and the university's executive team for a final decision.

The working groups and their chairs are:

  • Academic Continuity Task Force: Tami Eitle, Vice Provost for Curriculum, Accreditation and Assessment
  • Human Resources: Jeannette Grey Gilbert, Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Student Success: Tony Campeau, Registrar
  • Athletics: Leon Costello, Director of Athletics
  • Finance: Aaron Mitchell, Assistant Vice President for Financial Services
  • Auxiliary Services: Tom Stump, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services
  • University Services: Dan Stevenson, Associate Vice President of University Services

The URC was formed April 23 and first convened April 28. The URC has been working hard to identify operational considerations for all areas of the university based upon several scenarios for the fall 2020 semester. They have created a solid foundation for us to build upon as we prepare for the many uncertainties that lie ahead. 

If you have a recommendation that falls into any of these areas, feel free to send an email to the chair for their consideration. The email addresses of the chairs and all committee members are available on the COVID-19 website.

Needless to say, I am also available to you at any time of the day or any day of the week. Your email comes directly to me and I will do my best to provide you with the information you need or refer it to the person who is the best qualified to address your question or recommendation. 

This is the time for us to walk together as a community; it is the best antidote to the isolation of social distancing. 

We are Bobcats.

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 5/12/20 at 8 a.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty,

Thank you for your exceptional efforts completing the spring semester under difficult, unprecedented circumstances. I commend you for the hard work and care you put into converting the delivery of your courses to accommodate students dispersed across the state, nation and world. This was no easy undertaking; you overcame professional and personal hardships to teach your students and help them stay engaged to finish the semester. You have made a difference in the lives of others, and there is no more noble accomplishment. I consider it a true honor and privilege to serve as your provost.

This email is more informal than I usually send because I want to get the following information in your hands as quickly as possible as you begin planning your course sections for fall semester.

The message below was sent yesterday to Deans and Department Heads from the Academic Continuity Task Force. I extend my appreciation to the task force members (listed at the bottom of the message) who have been meeting daily for the past three weeks planning and developing guidelines for delivering courses in the fall via a combination of modalities (in-person, blended and online).

Thank you in advance for working with your department colleagues to plan for fall semester. Future emails will describe health and safety protocols, social distancing measures and disinfecting practices that will be used in classrooms, offices, residence halls and public areas to mitigate the risk of infection on campus.

We will offer a handful of face-to-face courses during the second summer session to provide a relatively small number of students an opportunity to return to an in-person learning experience on the MSU campus. This phased approach to re-opening the campus to in-person instruction provides us the opportunity to implement health and sanitation measures and protocols on a smaller scale in preparation for fall semester. We will learn from this experience and make adjustments as necessary based on observations and feedback we receive from faculty, students and staff.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Robert L. Mokwa | Executive Vice President and Provost
Montana State University
Tel. 406-994-4371

Dear Department Heads and Directors,

The Academic Continuity and Contingency Planning Task Force have, with input from Deans and other College leadership, defined an initial set of academic guidelines for the fall semester. These guidelines foreground face-to-face educational experiences while acknowledging uncertainties about COVID-19 and concerns for mitigating the risk to students, faculty and staff. We ask you to use these guidelines and constraints to help plan for instruction in Fall 2020. These guidelines will assist department heads, directors and faculty thoughtfully in planning for your Fall semester courses and will be updated as we approach the Fall and have a better understanding of the virus implications, and as we receive additional ideas and suggestions from you.

Department heads are responsible for managing section delivery and teaching assignments to ensure the delivery of required courses, in consultation with their faculty. Because of the unprecedented circumstances of COVID-19, we request academic units include the University guidelines described below, and the need to stay within budget constraints. Deans will review these decisions with an eye for equitable workloads, appropriate balance of delivery methods and alignment with University priorities. Finally, the Academic Continuity Task Force will check the overall balance of delivery methods to support a quality educational experience and progress toward their chosen degrees.

The following university guidelines should inform decisions about course delivery in the Fall. 

MSU priorities to guide department-level decisions:

Prioritize face-to-face/blended* delivery for Freshman courses and for courses that are difficult to deliver in other modalities.

  • 100-200 level courses taken mostly by first and second-year students – University Seminar, WRIT 101W, and other core courses.
  • Labs, field courses, studio courses, or recitations that are difficult to deliver virtually or online.

Prioritize face-to-face/blended delivery based on pedagogy used in discipline-specific courses.

  • Research experiences, if prioritized by the department
  • Seminars or courses with group projects

Prioritize offerings such that most students have some face-to-face courses (unless they self-select into online classes)

Prioritize offering some online sections

Communicate with your dean about these decisions and update the Registrar about the section’s online format to allow students to be fully informed

  • Courses that have multiple sections. Please move one or more sections to online delivery to accommodate students who prefer to take all courses online, or if there are demand and resources for an additional section of a course, then consider offering a section online.
  • Upper-division and graduate courses - Research demonstrates that graduate students and upper-division undergraduate students have more developed study habits and motivation to do well in online classes. Please consider whether your upper-division or graduate elective courses could be delivered effectively online.

By this time of the year, students have enrolled and classrooms have been assigned based on historical needs and anticipated demands. To the extent possible, please work within the constraints described below. Please think about how to use blended instruction within your assigned classrooms' capacities with physical distancing. As courses move to online delivery and additional classroom space is identified, requests for changing classrooms will be considered using the list of priorities outlined above.

Classroom capacity under physical distancing:

  • Estimates for classroom capacities are included in the attached spreadsheet with updates to be available at https://www.montana.edu/registrar/Classroom_Reservation_Guidelines.html; these estimates will be updated with more accurate information as audits are completed over the next week. Please look for updates in the box folder.
  • Physical distancing may impact the close collaboration between students that characterize many course learning activities – consider how you may facilitate these essential interactions through the use of technology by groups of students.
  • Instructional laboratories, studios, maker-space, and the like will require special attention to physical distancing requirements. The Academic Continuity and Contingency Planning Task Force will be reaching out to coordinators of courses that use such spaces to document physical distancing plans.

Every faculty member should be ready to switch to remote delivery if required by public health authorities:

  • Please ensure that all faculty are aware of the requirement to use the learning management system supported by MSU to, at a minimum, post a syllabus, use the announcement tool as the primary means to communicate with students about class, and post course content in an organized manner. Currently, MSU uses Brightspace by D2L and provides training here: http://www.montana.edu/ecat/help/.
  • Please ensure that all faculty include in the syllabus their plans for how the semester will proceed if there is a transition to online delivery based on public health requirements. For example, faculty should be familiar with how to set up online meetings via either WebEx or Microsoft Teams. They should also ensure that students also know how to access and use these tools and technologies.

Additional protocols that are in development by the task force:

  • Personal Routines. Academic Affairs, University Services, University Health Partners and others are coordinating protocols and developing expectations for a heightened level of personal routines for students, faculty and staff in Fall 2020. These may include temperature checks, handwashing, social distancing and facemask use. Faculty will be expected to follow these guidelines and may add any additional measures such as wearing a plastic face shield or gloves in the classroom if they so choose. Students, faculty and staff should not come to class if they are not feeling well and should contact their health care provider for virus testing if they are experiencing symptoms. Decisions about personal routines and testing will be made based on the best public health guidelines at the time.
  • Classroom Routines. University Services will be developing guidelines and protocols for cleaning (wiping down desk surfaces, doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch surfaces) and disinfecting contaminated surfaces. Classrooms and buildings will have inflow and exit routes identified when possible. Language for faculty to include in their syllabus that establishes expectations for facemask wearing will be developed by the Dean of Students office in conjunction with recommendations from this committee.

The following pages provide resource links and templates for designing your courses in different delivery modalities. You will find these helpful as you work with your faculty as you make adjustments to fall semester courses and prepare for the possible pivot to remote instruction if the need arises.

We continue to be grateful for your flexibility, ingenuity, and commitment to educating Montana State’s students as we all work together to deliver high-quality education in a challenging new environment.

Sincerely,

Tamela Eitle, Chair
Steven Swinford
Kim Obbink
Beth Burroughs
David Singel
Chris Fastnow
Dean Adams
Heidi Fredenberg
Tony Campeau
Academic Continuity and Contingency Task Force

*Blended courses are those that provide some f2f and some virtual or online learning

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Sent 5/8/20 at 3:20 p.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Montana State Students,

You made it! Congratulations -- finals are over -- you have completed a semester of courses at Montana State University in the midst of unprecedented circumstances. A remarkable accomplishment that none of us will ever forget. You are commended for your hard work and efforts through the extraordinary circumstances of this Spring semester.

I am writing to remind you of the Pass/Fail grading option designed to ease some unavoidable consequences of the pandemic. You can find details at the Registrar's Office Website on Pass/Fail.

If you chose a course as Pass/Fail, the grade will not impact your GPA, yet the courses you complete will count toward your major, CORE, and/or graduation. This semester only, there are no forms you need to submit nor signatures you need to collect. After your instructors record your grades (likely by May 13th), you simply log into your MyInfo account, click on the Student Services tab, and click the very top link, "Choose Pass Fail Grading."

Your courses with your CURRENT grades will populate. Using the drop down menu under Desired Grade Mode, you will select if you want to keep your current grade or elect the new Pass/Fail option. If you select Pass/Fail, the course will highlight in yellow just like the screenshot below. You will then save your changes to ensure your grades are properly updated.

Courses that are currently Pass/Fail or in which you have received an incomplete do not show on the list. You must indicate which courses you want to convert to Pass/Fail no later than May 20.

Screenshot of screen with options for selecting pass/fail grading option in MyInfo

Please consider visiting with your advisor if you wish to discuss the best options for you.

Sincerely,
Tony Campeau
Registrar
Montana State University

and

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

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Sent 5/6/20 at 10:34 a.m.

Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Dear Deans, Dept Heads, and Directors:

As we prepare for the gradual transition back to campus beginning tomorrow, just a friendly reminder that we remain at Research Operations Level 2. Per guidance issued last week, we anticipate a transition to Research Operations Level 1 on Monday, May 18.

I know several of you have been working with your faculty and researchers on plans for both tomorrow and May 18. While the Research Operations document provides overarching guidance, I’d like to share an additional safeguard that has been discussed within at least one department (and likely others).

Research Laboratory/Space Calendar: The Office of VPREDGE strongly recommends each laboratory develop an electronic calendar to track of when personnel are in laboratories and research spaces. Many do this already for various safety or other purposes, but this practice will be particularly beneficial if a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs within your research team and/or space. As outlined in the updated Research Operations document, there are now specific guidelines if a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs. This includes the default of a 7-day laboratory shutdown unless a deep clean can be coordinated with appropriate units. Having a laboratory calendar that tracks daily use of personnel will be advantageous if such a circumstance occurs, and allow for a safe return to research in the most timely manner.

While we are not going so as far to require such a calendar at this point, it is strongly encouraged as a best practice.

I want to thank Abbie Richards and the Dept of Chemical and Biological Engineering for sharing this laboratory practice. As you all think of additional safeguards we may not have specifically addressed in the Research Operations guidance, do not hesitate to share with myself or Kirk Lubick so we can share more broadly with the research community. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

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Sent 5/5/20 at 6:30 p.m.

Bobcat Parent and Family Program

Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

Well, we've made it to finals' week. And I have to say, it has been quite a year. With the patience and flexibility of your student, we have made it through this first-round of challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has dealt us. In true Bobcat fashion, with grit and determination, we have pulled together and persevered as a community of learners and leaders.

This will be my final "regular" email to you this academic year. However, when there is new information that will have an impact on your student's experience at MSU during the summer or fall semester of 2020, you can bet that we'll be back in touch with updates.

Last Friday, Provost Mokwa reminded our students that courses during the first summer session will be offered online and remotely. Later this summer, MSU will offer a limited number of in-person courses beginning June 15 and 29. We're actively taking precautionary measures to protect everyone's safety in classrooms and campus offices through observance of appropriate social distancing. Taking one or two classes this summer is a strategy your student could consider to stay on track and to graduate in four years. You can read more about academic offerings available this summer online.

As a reminder, Governor Bullock's 14-day quarantine stipulation for anyone traveling to Montana from out of state is still in effect. We recognize the challenges this quarantine poses for many students and parents living out of state and whose belongings remain in our residence halls. While the University must comply with the Governor's directive, we have provided various options on how personal belongings may be stored for the summer or until the quarantine has eased. Please contact Chancey Ringer and our Housing/Residence Life office at msuitems@montana.edu for answers to questions about the current restrictions and options available.

There is more good news to report on the status of coronavirus in Montana -- no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Gallatin County this past week. As you know, President Cruzado announced plans last week to gradually resume staffing and office operations on campus, as well as plans and contingencies to resume classroom teaching in Fall 2020. We're energized by a path forward that balances the health and wellbeing of our campus community, while getting back to work with what MSU does best, providing world class higher education based here in Bozeman, Montana.

In other good news, MSU, to date, has been able to provide assistance to nearly 300 current students in need of emergency financial support due to complications triggered by COVID-19. Please encourage your student to apply if they are in need, or if you are in a position to help other students, please consider making a donation to the Emergency Student Support Fund.

Congratulations to those of you who will be celebrating graduation with your student this week! Each college has created a virtual celebration that you and your student can watch on Facebook Live. You can find the complete listing of weblinks and times for celebrations online.

Finally, I'll close by offering a simple "thank you." 2019-2020 has been an academic year filled with highs and lows. Through it all, I have enjoyed getting to know many of you over email and at our Parent & Family programs and events. As I said to many of you during Summer Orientation, "Our parents are our partners in student success" -- your engagement with MSU helps facilitate the success of your student and enhances their college experience.

Thank you for reading our emails, discussing these topics with your student and encouraging them to engage with our programs and support services. I'm looking forward to hearing from you next fall as your student returns to Bozeman.

In blue and gold,

Matthew R. Caires
Dean of Students

P.S. For those parent and family members who have students that live off-campus: MSU has again developed a partnership with the City of Bozeman to pick up large and bulky items for students. Many students do not have access to a truck or other type of vehicle that can haul an old couch or mattress away. In order to help make the off-campus move-out process easier, students can request a one-time pick up of a large or bulky item and the City of Bozeman will haul it away, free of charge.

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Sent 5/4/20 at 5:10 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

We passed an important milestone last week: As of April 23, no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Gallatin County. Additionally, there are currently no active cases in the county. Our thanks to all the public health officials at the state, county and city that worked so hard to lead us to this point. And we owe a collective thanks to our entire community for working together -- including our students, faculty and staff -- through this difficult time to flatten the curve. Finally, we cannot offer enough praise to the front-line health care workers who risked their lives to offer our community care through this time.

On April 23, we announced that the university would be following Montana Governor Steve Bullock's reopening plan for the state by gradually having employees return to their offices and campus beginning the morning of Thursday, May 7.

Our goal on May 7 will be to gradually begin resuming normal operations, while at the same time keeping employees safe using the plans units have developed in consultation with Human Resources. Employees should work with their supervisors and, if feasible, should continue to work from home. We will be observing physical distancing and best practices for hygiene, which are worth a reminder:

  • It is recommended every employee take their temperature at home before coming to work each day. 
  • Students, faculty, staff and visitors are to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other at all times.
  • In circumstances where a 6-foot distance is impractical, students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to wear a non-medical face mask or face covering.
  • Face masks or face coverings are strongly encouraged at all times during the workday.
  • Upon request to a unit supervisor, the university will provide one non-medical face mask to each employee who returns to campus. We are currently sourcing more masks as more employees return to work. This mask is to supplement an employee's own mask or face covering. Masks will be distributed through department and unit supervisors.
  • We have posted instructions on how to take your mask on and off in a way that keeps you safe.
  • It is springtime — allergy season — so we strongly urge you to consider wearing a face mask or face covering to cover your sneezes even when you think you will not be in contact with people. 
  • Please make sure to sneeze and/or cough into a tissue or your elbow.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Working in consultation with MSU Human Resources, units will identify reasonable accommodations for employees that have an underlying health condition that makes them, or someone in their household, particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus disease. Units and supervisors will also work with MSU Human Resources to address the circumstances of employees with childcare needs due to school or childcare facility closures.
  • The university will provide hand sanitization stations to as many units as possible. This will allow employees to refill personal-sized hand sanitizers as well as check out spray disinfectants and paper towels to clean work areas.
  • Employees are strongly encouraged to self-monitor for any of the updated list of COVID-19 symptoms. Employees are not to come to work if they have any of the symptoms and are to contact their supervisor immediately.

I kindly ask for your collaboration and appeal to your sense of community in following the above steps for the sake of your own safety and the safety of others. Working together, we can get through this time.

I welcome you back to your university. We have certainly missed you. 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 5/4/20 at 8:01 a.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear MSU Student,

You’ve made it to finals week, whew! I commend you for your hard work and efforts through the extraordinary circumstances of this Spring semester.

I am writing to remind you of the Pass/Fail grading option designed to ease some unavoidable consequences of the pandemic. You can find details at the Registrar's Office Website on Pass/Fail.

If you chose a course as Pass/Fail, the grade will not impact your GPA, yet the courses you complete will count toward your major, CORE, and/or graduation. This semester only, there are no forms you need to submit nor signatures you need to collect. After your instructors record your grades (likely by May 13th), you simply log into your MyInfo account, click on the Student Services tab, and click the very top link, “Choose Pass Fail Grading.”

Your courses with your CURRENT grades will populate. Using the drop down menu under Desired Grade Mode, you will select if you want to keep your current grade or elect the new Pass/Fail option. If you select Pass/Fail, the course will highlight in yellow just like the screenshot below. You will then save your changes to ensure your grades are properly updated.

Courses that are currently Pass/Fail or in which you have received an incomplete do not show on the list. You must indicate which courses you want to convert to Pass/Fail no later than May 20th.

Screenshot from the registrar's pass/fail course option website.

Please consider visiting with your advisor the week of finals if you wish to discuss the best options for you.

Hang in there, study smart and finish strong!

Sincerely,

Tony Campeau, Registrar, and Dr. Robert L. Mokwa, Executive Vice President and Provost

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Sent 5/1/20 at 4:39 p.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear MSU Students,

On this beautiful May Day, I want to remind all of you that your university, Montana State, is offering Summer Semester courses. I realize some of you have already registered for summer, but maybe others of you are considering that now would be a good time to catch up or leap ahead in the pursuit of your degree, or you would like to use this summer as an opportunity to explore a new area of knowledge. Besides, summers in Bozeman and Montana are beautiful!

During the first summer session, MSU will be offering the bulk of its courses through online and remote delivery and university housing will not be available. This summer, we will be offering limited number of in-person, face-to-face course sections, with sessions beginning June 15 and 29. The health of our students, faculty and staff comes first and for these face-to-face classes we will be observing appropriate social distancing and precautionary measures for everyone's safety.

You can find all our summer course offerings and registration instructions by visiting montana.edu/summer.

The university has four-, six-, eight- and 12-week offerings with different start at times during the spring and summer to accommodate students' schedules.

Summer school is a great option for traditional and non-traditional students during what will be a summer where social distancing and other "new normal" measures will be in place around the country.

I urge you to take this opportunity to use your summer to invest in yourself, invest in your education and prepare for your future.

The schedule for summer courses is as follows:

  • Full semester, 12-week session: May 18-Aug. 7
  • May four-week session: May 18-June 12
  • May six-week session: May 18-June 26
  • June four-week session: June 15-July 10
  • June eight-week session: June 15-Aug. 7
  • June six-week session: June 29-Aug. 7
  • July four-week session: July 13-Aug. 7

Join us for the summer!

 

Sincerely,

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

 

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Sent 5/1/20 at 3:47 p.m.

Vice Presidence of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

In late March, our community of researchers made some rapid and remarkable transitions.  Over the course of about one week, we moved the majority of our research to remote activities, while a limited number of laboratories and field work continued under carefully mitigated strategies that were vetted and approved by department heads, directors, and the Office of Research Compliance.  I cannot thank you enough for the rapid and responsible actions you all took to help “flatten the curve” in our community and state.  You are all truly remarkable.

Taking into consideration the Governor’s phased reopening guidance, as well as guidance from the Commissioner of Higher Education, we have been carefully considering the right time to safely and responsibly return to Research Operations Level 1.  We have also been reexamining the Research Operations guidelines, and have added some additional clarity to the document.  Today, we are announcing the anticipation of return to Research Operations Level 1 on Monday, May 18.  This date was chosen to allow for a gradual phased reopening of campus activities, which begin next week on May 7 per President Cruzado’s memo on April 23.

A few key highlights to the updated and attached Research Operations guidance:

  • The revised Research Operations include updated guidance on what will need to occur in the case of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a laboratory. The process will require coordination between the laboratory principal investigator, supervisor, the Office of Research Compliance, and Safety & Risk Management.
  • The revised Level 1 guidance includes additional guidance on social/physical distancing expectations, face coverings, and expected hygiene practices.
  • The revised Level 1 guidance outlines some strategies for reducing the number of individuals in a laboratory at one time (i.e., split schedules, personnel rotations, etc.) to assist with social/physical distancing expectations.

Please remember that your Research Operations Level 2 plans can always be revisited with your department head/director and the Office of Research Compliance if you are approaching a point of irreversible “data or financial loss” with your research.  Accordingly, if the May 18 date is problematic, please reach out immediately to the Office of Research Compliance.

It is imperative the we remain vigilant as we transition to Level 1 research.  Adherence to the Research Operations guidance, University guidance, and CDC guidance are key to a successful phased reopening of Montana State University’s research enterprise.  Thank you in advanced for your anticipated compliance to these guidelines, and I look forward to seeing the gradual uptick in your impactful research and scholarship.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.

Sincerely,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

 

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Sent 4/30/20 at 4:50 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

Here we are, Bobcats of all ages, finally approaching the last week of classes of the momentous 2020 Spring semester. We know that the last couple of months will go down in the history books of our Montana State University and the world. As we approach our Finals Week, I want to send a message of encouragement and recognition to all students, faculty and staff who have worked so hard to bring this semester to a successful closure. I want to also thank all the parents who have supported their students through this time as well.

Around the nation, many universities have announced or are in the process of announcing plans for the summer and next academic year. Those plans are largely based on local conditions and relevant state guidance. Thankfully, as I write this, the state of Montana is showing progress in addressing the COVID-19 emergency, and we are thoughtfully moving toward restoring a new level of normalcy, under new practices.

We are actively working on careful plans to open our campus for the fall semester and to offer face-to-face course delivery, in accordance with health guidelines and protocols.

With the assumption that it is very likely that precautionary measures for COVID-19 will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, we are considering many adaptations to keep students, faculty and staff safe while at the same time providing a high-quality, on-campus educational experience. At Montana State, we have several planning groups meeting almost daily to achieve this goal. While we have not yet made any final decisions, some adaptations we are considering might include:

  • Seeking larger than typical rooms for courses with sufficient space per person to continue safe face-to-face delivery.
  • Providing some fully online sections in multi-section classes to offer options to students and faculty and to help extend classroom availability.
  • Possibly rotating portions of a class between face-to-face and online delivery, so students get some of each while maintaining social distancing.
  • Blending face-to-face and online learning so that students have an element of in-room instruction to build community but also can work together in pairs or small groups through online or virtual tools.
  • Using instructional laboratory time for work that is difficult to adapt to virtual delivery, while shifting exercises that are more conducive to remote practice to online delivery.
  • Practicing physical distancing in studios and maker spaces to allow for the necessary student educational experience while keeping everyone safe.
  • Stretching available classroom space by reducing the number of elective and optional CORE courses.
  • Creating new building and classroom entrance and exit procedures and making adjustments to the flow of pedestrian traffic on campus.
  • Adjusting to a stretched daily schedule of classes to allow more time between classes.

Our planning for adaptation also extends to student services and student life. We are examining how we can safely and effectively provide tutoring, advising, mentoring and on-campus living and recreation. Additionally, we are planning for the contingency — should health officials mandate it — of returning to wholly online and remote teaching.  

We will continue to communicate with you over the summer as our plans become more definitive. Many things will be different at MSU this fall, but our work to design and deliver an engaging, quality education that matters to our students and stakeholders is unwavering.

I want to thank each member of our Bobcat community for your patience, trust, and commitment to higher education — now and in the future. As we watch this pandemic unfold, it is clear that research and discovery are keys to drawing the era of COVID-19 to a close. It is because we believe in the possibility of a better future together that we are committed to our ongoing investment in higher education. We want to prepare our Bobcats to work on the challenges of today and to solve the next set of global problems. Our world needs Bobcat nurses, engineers, teachers, physicians, businesspeople, scientists, artists and other professionals — and your university, Montana State, is prepared to respond.

Wishing the best for all your Bobcats studying hard for Finals Week.

Sincerely,



Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

Sent 4/30/20 at 11:00 a.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

Here we are, Bobcats of all ages, finally approaching the last week of classes of the momentous 2020 Spring semester. We know that the last couple of months will go down in the history books of our Montana State University and the world. As we approach our Finals Week, I want to send a message of encouragement and recognition to all students, faculty and staff who have worked so hard to bring this semester to a successful closure.

Around the nation, many universities have announced or are in the process of announcing plans for the summer and next academic year. Those plans are largely based on local conditions and relevant state guidance. Thankfully, as I write this, the state of Montana is showing progress in addressing the COVID-19 emergency, and we are thoughtfully moving toward restoring a new level of normalcy, under new practices.

We are actively working on careful plans to open our campus for the fall semester and to offer face-to-face course delivery, in accordance with health guidelines and protocols. 

With the assumption that it is very likely that precautionary measures for COVID-19 will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, we are considering many adaptations to keep students, faculty and staff safe while at the same time providing a high-quality, on-campus educational experience. At Montana State, we have several planning groups meeting almost daily to achieve this goal. While we have not yet made any final decisions, some adaptions we are considering might include: 

  • Seeking larger than typical rooms for courses with sufficient space per person to continue safe face-to-face delivery.
  • Providing some fully online sections in multi-section classes to offer options to students and faculty and to help extend classroom availability.
  • Possibly rotating portions of a class between face-to-face and online delivery, so students get some of each while maintaining social distancing. 
  • Blending face-to-face and online learning so that students have an element of in-room instruction to build community but also can work together in pairs or small groups through online or virtual tools.
  • Using instructional laboratory time for work that is difficult to adapt to virtual delivery, while shifting exercises that are more conducive to remote practice to online delivery.
  • Practicing physical distancing in studios and maker spaces to allow for the necessary student educational experience while keeping everyone safe.
  • Stretching available classroom space by reducing the number of elective and optional CORE courses.
  • Creating new building and classroom entrance and exit procedures and making adjustments to the flow of pedestrian traffic on campus.
  • Adjusting to a stretched daily schedule of classes to allow more time between classes. 

Our planning for adaptation also extends to student services and student life. We are examining how we can safely and effectively provide tutoring, advising, mentoring and on-campus living and recreation. Additionally, we are planning for the contingency — should health officials mandate it — of returning to wholly online and remote teaching.  

We will continue to communicate with you over the summer as our plans become more definitive. Many things will be different at MSU this fall, but our work to design and deliver an engaging, quality education that matters to our students and stakeholders is unwavering. 

I want to thank each member of our Bobcat community for your patience, trust, and commitment to higher education — now and in the future. As we watch this pandemic unfold, it is clear that research and discovery are keys to drawing the era of COVID-19 to a close. It is because we believe in the possibility of a better future together that we are committed to our ongoing investment in higher education. We want to prepare our Bobcats to work on the challenges of today and to solve the next set of global problems. Our world needs Bobcat nurses, engineers, teachers, physicians, businesspeople, scientists, artists and other professionals — and your university, Montana State, is prepared to respond.

Wishing you best of luck during Finals Week.


Sincerely,


Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 4/29/20 at 7:45 a.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I am writing today to provide you an overview of the scenario planning and preparations for the upcoming Fall semester that are underway at Montana State University and will continue throughout the summer.

When COVID-19 and concerns for public health emerged in the Spring, MSU faculty, staff, and students demonstrated a commitment to community and worked together to move rapidly to remote delivery of instruction. The pandemic and the uncertainty about the capacity to care for those who became ill prompted a shift, throughout the world of higher education, to the use of new technologies to communicate and to deliver course content. We are profoundly grateful to our faculty for the success of this transition.

Indicators from the scientific community, the CDC and our local health and epidemiology experts tell us that the COVID-19 virus will remain a fact of life this Fall. At Montana State University, we will continue to work together to aggressively and creatively tackle and manage complexities that the COVID-19 virus represents. As we look forward to the Fall semester, our goal is to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while providing a high-quality, on-campus educational experience. To achieve this, all of us will need to exercise caution and alter some of our habits to keep each other safe while allowing for maximum flexibility to respond to changing circumstances. 

A University Reconstitution Planning Committee is developing strategies for implementing necessary changes across key operational areas including research, academics, university services, auxiliaries, finance, IT and others. Terry Leist, VP of Administration and Finance, and I are co-chairing the committee with support from a variety of other sources including our scientists and local health experts. The MSU Academic Continuity Task Force, chaired by Vice Provost Tami Eitle is a key part of this advisory effort and includes representatives from Faculty Affairs, Center for Faculty Excellence, Academic Technology and Outreach, with input from our Deans. Faculty Senate leadership is involved and will contribute to the planning process throughout the summer.

The Reconstitution Planning Committee and the Academic Continuity Task Force are examining alternatives for a variety of possible scenarios in the Fall. I will provide updates as the summer progresses, but for now, as we come to the close of Spring Semester, I share with you some of the key academic adaptations that will likely constitute essential components of our Fall operations. These adaptations might include:

  • Seeking larger than typical rooms for courses with sufficient space per person to continue safe face-to-face delivery, with a priority for achieving safe face-to-face delivery in the smaller first-year classes.
  • Providing some fully online sections in multi-section classes to offer options to students and faculty, and to help extend classroom availability.
  • Blending in-room and online delivery, perhaps including rotating face time among sub-groups of the enrolled students, to allow for physical distancing while maintaining section caps.
  • Blending face-to-face and online learning so that students have an element of face-to-face instruction to build community, but also can work together in pairs or small groups through online or virtual tools.
  • Using instructional laboratory time for work that is difficult to adapt to a virtual modality, while shifting exercises that are more conducive to remote practice to online delivery.
  • Practicing physical distaincing in studios and maker spaces to allow for the necessary student education experience while keeping everyone safe.
  • Reducing the number of electives and optional courses offered to fulfill CORE to help extend classroom availability.
  • Creating new building and classroom entrance and exit procedures and adjustments to the flow of pedestrian traffic on campus.
  • Adjusting to a stretched daily schedule of classes to allow more time between classes.

Collectively, these ideas suggest that preparation for the Fall must start early. It is clear that our Fall Semester will include more on-line content than in the past. We are grateful for the speed and cooperation with which MSU faculty adapted their Spring courses. To be ready for any potential transitions in the Fall, we recommend that faculty develop and structure their Fall courses in ways that allow for fluid adaptions to potentially changing circumstances.

The use of delivery methods that blend face-to-face and remote delivery with frequent assessment of student progress, for example, will ensure a high degree of readiness to accommodate a transition to fully on-line delivery, if necessitated by an increase in virus cases or required by public health authorities. Moreover, as part of our responsible preparation efforts, every individual course should be ready for contingent, temporary on-line delivery, with back-up plans for instructors and for assessment. Likewise, programs with hands-on labs and studios should be considering novel ways to use specially outfitted spaces to continue to deliver high-quality experiential instruction with safe distancing.

I will provide academic-related updates throughout the Summer as we continue to refine our scenario plans. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact me (provost@montana.edu), or relay your input to your department head or dean. Later this week, you will receive information about a faculty survey that will be administered by the MSU Office of Planning and Analysis so that we can learn from you as we continue to adapt our response to COVID-19. I value your input – we are all on the same team as we seek innovative and creative approaches to maintaining a high level of research and academic excellence.

Like you, I look forward to stepping out of this temporary virtual world and back into an environment where we can once again live, learn and enjoy the personal interactions that we miss on our incredible campus and beautiful surrounding community. This Fall will not be the same as we remember in the past, there will be changes that require our flexibility and patience. However, we will stay true to our mission and we will do this together while maintaining safety and minimizing risk for our students, faculty and staff. Now more than ever we have to take care of the next, rising generation – our mission as a Land Grant University has never been more important.

Best regards,

Dr. Robert L. Mokwa | Executive Vice President and Provost

Montana State University

Tel. 406-994-4371

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Sent 4/23/20 at 4:30 p.m.

Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Dear Deans, Department Heads and Directors:

I wanted to follow up the President’s memo with some additional clarifications specific to research, and also use this as an opportunity to provide a couple other research-related updates. Please pass this information along to your faculty and researchers.

Research Operations

Research will continue to operate under Research Operations Level 2 at this time. Specifically, researchers are required to work remotely unless they have approval from their department head/director and the Office of Research Compliance (ORC) to continue laboratory or field data acquisition under the “essential research” definition with approved mitigation strategies. Please remember that the Research Operations document and process always allows faculty and principal investigators to work with their supervisor and ORC to reassess their research classification and potential mitigation strategies as needed. We will continue to monitor the gradual return of various campus activities in anticipation of a return to Level 1 at some point if new COVID cases stays in range acceptable to public health officials, but that decision will ultimately be made by the Institutional Response Group with input from campus leadership and community. As you will note, President Cruzado’s afternoon memo stated May 7 for a gradual resuming of on-campus staffing and operations in a way that “protects students, faculty, staff and visitors.” We will continue to assess the situation, and welcome your input as we consider a timeline specific for Level 1 Research Operations.

VPREDGE Internal Grants

You are all aware that the University is proceeding cautiously on FY21 financial planning. That said, mission critical investments still need to occur, especially when they can positively impact students, our mission, and financial stability. Research from federal agencies is strong at the moment, and we need to continue to invest in research and scholarship to remain competitive in that landscape. Accordingly, we will be announcing the continuation of the REF, S&C, and HASS grant programs in a communication tomorrow. In an effort to be fiscally responsible, we are likely to begin with allocating ~75-80% of prior year funding levels until we know more about the FY21 budget. Also, there are several modifications to the grant guidelines, criteria and expectations that were based upon great input from Research Council and leading research faculty. One of the changes is a rolling deadline for REF and S&C that will allow for grant submissions when faculty and researchers need those funds (as opposed to once per year deadline). We have outlined strategies to ensure funds are not distributed on first come first serve basis. Another change is opportunity for soft-funded researchers to apply for REF. When the final Request for Proposal documents are distributed, I encourage you and your faculty to review the updated guidelines carefully. Lastly, we will immediately release the S&C and REF guidelines, and have asked some of the HASS leaders to add some additional clarity and expectations around the HASS guidelines before distribution of that mechanism.

Extension of Start-Up Packages Due to COVID-19 Disruptions

Our office acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to research and scholarship. Some faculty have been able to shift to remote research or make the case for “essential research” to continue under approved mitigation strategies. Nevertheless, our office has been hearing that some faculty are concerned about not only this spring’s progress, but also potential summer research. Please know that while my philosophy is to encourage faculty to aggressively spend down start-up packages (data shows faster transition to independence and sustained external funding and scholarship), we recognize that initial plans don’t always work out. There are delays in lab allocations, complications with recruiting graduate students, and other factors – including once-in-lifetime (hopefully) global pandemics! Individuals who would like to appeal for an extension of their start-up package due to COVID-19 should do so by submitting a short memo that includes the following: 1) what was original start-up amount and timeline approved, 2) progress to date on spending, 3) brief rationale for the extension (what changed), and 4) what remaining funds will be expended on during remaining time if the extension is granted. Our office has already processed a number of these. This is not intended for those that have multiple years remaining and were able to make progress remotely or continue under “essential research” option, nor is it for those that have already been extended (unless COVID genuinely impacted that final spend-down you proposed in the original extension request).

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.
VP for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

 

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Sent 4/23/20 at 2:02 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. I am so grateful to all of you for the innumerable ways you have persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our faculty and students are navigating remote learning in unprecedented ways and our staff are managing challenges none of us could have imagined just a few months ago. Thanks to your efforts, we are making progress in addressing the many issues related to this emergency.

Yesterday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced changes to the stay-at-home and travel directives, as part of a phased plan to gradually reopen the state. You can read the full reopening plan on the governor's website. 

After the governor's announcement, the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education released a guidance memo to campuses for developing staffing strategies that align with the governor's directive. Additionally, this morning, the Gallatin City-County Board of Health voted to adhere to the governor's directive.

Gallatin County has had the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. Fortunately, with the patience and cooperation of city and county residents, including our students, faculty and staff, the rate of infection in the county has slowed dramatically. As a community, we have worked together to save lives.

We recognize, however, this accomplishment is fragile. We are just barely past the peak and, in order for the rate of infection to continue to decline, we must remain vigilant and careful. The vast majority of people remain susceptible to infection and the risk of a high infection rate returning is very real. To paraphrase the governor, we all need to act like our loved ones' lives depend on our actions, because they do.

In consultation with health officials, Montana State University will continue its current practices of telework, online and remote instruction, building and travel restrictions, food service reductions, social distancing requirements and other practices from now until the morning of Thursday, May 7. In accordance with federal and state guidelines, we are calling this period Phase One.

In preparation for May 7, I am hereby asking units to work with MSU Human Resources in making plans for gradually resuming on-campus staffing and operations in a way that protects the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Every MSU unit is expected to develop a plan and to be prepared to execute such plan during Phase One, starting May 7.

Those plans need to include social distancing measures, limiting the number of employees in common areas, and keeping sick employees home. Employees will be urged to use non-medical facemasks and, of course, continue to practice frequent handwashing and other hygiene best practices.

Working in consultation with MSU Human Resources, units will identify reasonable accommodations for employees that have an underlying health condition that makes them, or someone in their household, particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus disease. Units and supervisors will also work with MSU Human Resources to address the circumstances of employees with childcare needs due to the continuation of school or childcare facility closures.

Also, in preparation for Phase One, MSU will be working diligently in expanding appropriate educational signage in rooms and facilities as well as providing personal sanitization stations to as many units as possible.

I want to emphasize, that we are asking units to make plans with the understanding that those plans may need to change based on the rate of infection in Gallatin County and the state. The goal is for all of us to implement our plans in such a manner that it helps us advance to a next step of progress and minimizes the need to retrench to isolation measures. 

Thank you for your patience and your understanding. The sacrifices we have made so far have flattened the curve of this virus and I acknowledge that gain has come at a high price for many. Our shared resolve brought us to where we are today, and our continued commitment to caring for each other will carry us forward. 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 4/17/20 at 10:29 a.m.

Safety and Risk Management

Dear Supervisors and Management Staff,

As you know, Montana State University's physical campus remains open to provide living accommodations and services to students who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To safeguard public health and the health of the essential staff and service providers working on campus, MSU has taken a number of precautions in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including strictly adhering to appropriate social distancing.

The university also encourages essential staff, students, service providers and others on campus to follow the CDC's guidance and wear face masks in public to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Guidance from the CDC on the recommended use of cloth face coverings is available online, as are recommendations on the materials needed, how to construct masks and how to launder them. Instructions for putting on and removing masks are available on MSU's COVID-19 website.

Please note, cloth masks or bandanas may cause additional hazards for tasks such as operating equipment or motor vehicles or working in shop environments. Masks or bandanas can cause glasses to fog or can be an entanglement hazard with rotating machinery. Staff members with workplace safety questions should reach out to Safety and Risk Management for guidance at 406-994-2711.

Due to limited supply, the university can only provide manufactured face masks or respirators to those employees performing essential functions that require the use of those masks. MSU will continue to work on obtaining additional supplies, but until then, the university will not be providing masks to all employees.

Additional information about COVID-19 and the university's precautions in response to the pandemic is available on MSU's official COVID-19 website at montana.edu/coronavirus.

Sincerely,

Chris Catlett
Director of Safety and Risk Management

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Sent 4/15/20 at 5:22 p.m.

Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Dear Deans, Dept Heads and Directors:

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been soliciting input from this group and a number of MSU field researchers in an attempt to provide additional guidance for field work during Level 2 Research Operations.  Attached is that guidance.  Please note that we may need to modify this guidance as the situation continues to evolve, and/or as we receive additional feedback from faculty, staff, and students.

I want to thank Diane Debinski and Pat Hatfield for their leadership in helping initiate this conversation and working with our office in a proactive manner on this guidance. In addition, we received a number of excellent and comprehensive reviews that helped improve the document throughout this week.  In particular, I’d like to thank Michael Babcock, Darrin Boss, Michael Giroux, Beth Burroughs, and Frank Stewart – each of whom submitted comprehensive comments and critiques that we did our best to clarify and address.  Finally, I would be remised if I did not thank Kirk Lubick and Kellie Peterson for their support and expertise.

We know the guidance is not perfect as there are many forms of “field research” – from land/environmental to k-12 education to oceanic research – making this very complex.  While this document provides guidance, your specific plans need to be addressed in concordance with the Research Operations procedures and documentation approved by dept heads/directors and the Office of Research Compliance.  Nevertheless, we hope the attached guidance is helpful for those that have approved Level 2 “essential” research, and for those that are considering a Level 2 plan that would mitigate risk and allow for data acquisition in the field.

Thank you all for your patience and support as we navigate these extraordinary times. To minimize targeted emails sent to the broad university listserv, we are only sending this to the deans/dept head/director listservs – so please be sure to forward this communication to your faculty, staff, and students that conduct field research. Lastly, do not hesitate to contact us with any concerns or questions.

Sincerely,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

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Sent 4/15/20 at 11:28 a.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

This message is in response to questions asking for guidance around the administration of final exams and projects, especially around format, due dates and timing. In this unprecedented semester we appreciate that you are thinking ahead about how to administer final exams.

If faculty are giving a typical, timed final exam, it should be given on the day the final exam was originally scheduled. Because of the change in delivery for many courses from face-to-face to remote, we encourage faculty to provide an extended window of opportunity for students to take the exam to allow students maximum flexibility.

For example you might consider, if appropriate, making the exam available for 24 hours and allow students to identify the 2-3 hour window in which they will complete the exam. If you need assistance in setting up Brightspace (D2L) features to allow this, please visit http://www.montana.edu/ecat/help/instructor_tutorials/quizzes/ or email ecat@montana.edu. If you have not given assessments from within D2L before, please ensure you attend training so that you don’t inadvertently limit students’ opportunities for success.

If you are planning to provide and alternative assessment; e.g., take-home exam, paper, project, or presentation, you are encouraged to provide guidelines for the alternative assessment at least two weeks in advance of the due date. Faculty have the flexibility to set the due date for alternative assessments and it is not necessary for these deadlines to adhere to the published exam schedule. We ask faculty to be as flexible as possible and to be aware of the full scope of assignments and exams that students are managing throughout the final exam week.

As a reminder, the final exam schedule is available at: http://www.montana.edu/registrar/Schedules.html.

Final grades are due 48 hours after the scheduled course final. Regardless of the final assessment format, it is important that all grades are submitted through MyInfo by 12:00 noon on Monday, May 11. Please submit grades as soon as grading is complete but no later than Monday at noon.

I am grateful for the remarkable effort that you have made to accommodate students and student learning during these difficult times. Thank you.

Stay well and please take care of yourself.

Best regards,

Dr. Robert L. Mokwa | Executive Vice President and Provost

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Sent 4/13/20 at 2:30 p.m.

Office of the Provost

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Montana State University will offer all its summer 2020 courses through online and remote delivery, the university announced today.

The university has four-, six-, eight- and 12-week online and remote offerings with different start times during the spring and summer to accommodate students’ schedules.

“Summer school is a great option for traditional and non-traditional students during what could be an extended period of social distancing and stay-at-home orders,” said MSU Provost Robert Mokwa. “A large variety of courses and program offerings will be available this summer. It’s a great opportunity for students to stay productive and connected, while staying on-track and on-time for their degree goals.”

The university is keeping open the possibility that it may also offer a small number of hands-on, experiential courses later in the summer, including a limited selection of Gallatin College workforce development courses. 

To register for MSU’s 2020 Summer Session, visit www.montana.edu/summer.

The schedule for summer courses is as follows:

  • Full semester, 12-week session: May 18–Aug. 7
  • May four-week session: May 18–June 12
  • May six-week session: May 18–June 26
  • June four-week session: June 15–July 10
  • June eight-week session: June 15–Aug. 7
  • June six-week session: June 29–Aug. 7
  • July four-week session: July 13–Aug. 7

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Sent 4/7/2020 at 4:29 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

This is a short update on news this afternoon from Montana Governor Steve Bullock. The governor has extended Montana's stay-at-home order from April 10 through the end of April 24.

This extension also applies to the closure of K-12 schools, the requirement that all out-of-state travelers self-quarantine for 14 days, restrictions on all non-essential travel and the continued closure of bars and restaurants to walk-in and sit-down service.

You can read the full text of the governor's directive by clicking on this link.

Montana State University will continue to follow the governor's directive. This means all the restrictions currently in place for the university will continue through April 24. There are no changes to university courses that continue with remote delivery.

Please, continue to practice social distancing. The health and welfare of our community depends upon it. Many lives can be spared if we continue to follow the stay-at-home and social-distancing guidelines. I know this is a difficult time, but I also know that Bobcats have the strength to get through. 

 

Stay healthy and stay safe,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 4/7/2020 at 11:36 a.m.

Division of Student Success

Dear  MSU Students and Families,

We hope this email finds you, your family and your loved ones safe and healthy. We understand that the coronavirus pandemic may be causing financial anxiety to many of you and so we wanted to share some information from the federal government, the state of Montana and your university, Montana State. We are here to provide you the guidance you need. 

This letter covers a wide range of topics from federal student loan repayments, to food assistance, to internet access. This is not a comprehensive list of resources as new information, particularly from the federal and state governments, is updated regularly. We will do our best to keep you informed.  

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27. This unprecedented federal legislation contains important information that may impact you:

  • Federal student loan repayments: Under the act, any regularly scheduled repayments of federal student loans between March 13, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020 are automatically being placed into administrative forbearance, which allows students to temporarily stop making payments during this time period. Students will still owe the payments, but do not have to make them during this time period. No interest will accrue during this period. The forbearance does not apply to private loans. Click here for FAQs about the forbearance from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Pell Grant timeline: The normal timeframe for which a student is eligible for Pell Grants is six years when attending college full time. Under the act, that timeframe will be extended. Please contact the MSU Office of Financial Aid Services if you believe you may qualify for an extension at finaid@montana.edu. Please put "Pell Grant timeline" in the subject line of your email.
  • Stimulus checks: If you are not claimed as a dependent on someone else's taxes, and filed a tax return in 2018 or 2019, you may qualify for a stimulus check from the federal government. If you are claimed as a dependent, you do not qualify. Please click here for more information.
  • Work-Study: MSU is communicating with students who were actively receiving payments from federal or state work-study programs. Provisions are available for some circumstances that will allow for continued payments. Please contact the MSU Office of Financial Aid Services at finaid@montana.edu. Please put "COVID related work study" in the subject line of your email. 
  • General Financial Assistance: The Office of Financial Education at MSU's Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success is available to assist students with a wide variety of issues via phone and email. Schedule an appointment!    

Additional items of importance to students:

Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of our offices with your questions or concerns. We are here for you and will do our very best to assist. As more information becomes available, we will share it with you. 

Be safe and stay healthy,

Chris Kearns
Vice President of Student Success

James Broscheit
Director, MSU Office of Financial Aid Services

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Sent 4/3/2020 at 3:44 p.m.

Administration and Finance

Dear MSU Faculty and Staff,

On March 27, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a Stay at Home directive to all citizens of the state, seeking to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Montana. The measures contained in the governor's directive are currently effective statewide through April 17, 2020 and are expected to be extended. All the campuses of the Montana University System are following this directive by keeping only essential functions operational. Montana State University is open and the essential functions of teaching, research and Extension continue, with proper adaptations for the COVID-19 state of emergency. All classes are being offered remotely or via online modalities. 

Faculty and staff who can telework without hampering essential operations of the university have been asked to stay away from campus.

*Understandthat while you may feel healthy today, if you become sick with the coronavirus you will set off a chain of deep cleaning processes as well as investigative protocols into the university buildings and offices you recently visited. Given the current local and national shortages of cleaning supplies, we are asking your help in conserving the university's stock by STAYING AT HOME.   

As an added step to be in compliance with executive orders, to help slow the spread of the pandemic as well as to conserve important sanitizing and deep cleaning supplies and resources, Montana State University has limited foot traffic to most of its buildings. Please work from home and stay at home.

In those exceptional cases in which a limited number of faculty and staff have an essential business purpose to be on campus, they must adhere to signage that has been placed on the exterior doors of buildings.

Until further notice, a color-coded system designates the use of MSU buildings, using the categories of Access Not Restricted (Green), Restricted Access (Yellow) and Authorized Personnel Only (Red). While the lists below do not include every building on campus, they cover the highest-traffic buildings. The categories of the color-coded system are defined as follows: 

ACCESS NOT RESTRICTED (Green Color) - Buildings in this category will offer access to MSU students, faculty and staff during business hours of 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Saturday. In the case of buildings with computer labs, we implore users to limit their stay and to only use the computer labs and the restrooms.

  • Cobleigh Hall
  • Jabs Hall
  • Norm Asbjornson Hall
  • Reid Hall

RESTRICTED ACCESS (Yellow Color) - Buildings in this category will offer access to MSU faculty, students and staff who have a CatCard during business hours of 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. 

  • Barnard Hall
  • Health Science Building
  • Leon Johnson Hall
  • Plant Growth Center
  • Wilson Hall 

AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY (Red Color) - Buildings in this category will offer access to a limited number of MSU employees, during business hours of 8 am to 5 pm. If authorized personnel access is needed outside these hours, contact and inform University Police at extension 2121.

  • AJM Johnson Hall
  • Animal Bioscience Building 
  • Black Box Theater 
  • Brick Breeden Fieldhouse 
  • Cheever Hall 
  • Chemistry Biochemistry Building 
  • Cooley Hall 
  • Gaines Hall 
  • Hamilton Hall 
  • Haynes Hall 
  • Herrick Hall 
  • Howard Hall 
  • Linfield Hall 
  • Lewis Hall 
  • Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center 
  • Plant Bioscience Building 
  • Renne Library (MSU Library Services are available online.)  
  • Roberts Hall 
  • Sherrick Hall
  • Student Union Building 
  • Taylor Hall 
  • Visual Communications Building 

In those exceptional cases in which a limited number of faculty and staff have an essential business purpose to be on campus, they must adhere to signage that has been placed on the exterior doors of buildings.

In addition, please note there are specific guidelines for student service buildings, as follows:

  • The Swingle Student Health Center will continue to offer health care services for students; to ensure best practices, please call 994-2311 to make an appointment before coming into the lobby.
  • Residence halls are only to be used by MSU students who are currently living in the halls. No guests or members of the public are allowed.
  • The Rendezvous Dining Pavilion will continue offering Take-Home meals for MSU faculty, students and staff who have a meal plan.
  • The Registrar's Office, Financial Aid and Student Accounts Office in Montana Hall are open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.  

We are asking for your cooperation and patience in helping to slow the spread of this pandemic and keep our community healthy. This is a time when we are asking all students, faculty and staff to put the needs of the larger community at the forefront of their thoughts and actions for the safety of everyone. 

Please join us in doing your part by staying home. If you must come to campus for essential activities, please adhere strictly to the building access restrictions outlined above. If you feel you absolutely need an exception to any of these building access restrictions, please contact University Police at 994-2121 in advance.

Sincerely,

Terry Leist
Vice President of Administration and Finance 

Dan Stevenson
Associate Vice President of University Services 

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Sent 4/3/2020 at 10:00am

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

This morning, the Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, notified campuses that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Montana University System will not be able to hold large-scale, university-wide commencement ceremonies on their previously planned dates.

While the decision does not come as a surprise, given executive orders at the federal and state levels limiting the size of gatherings, encouraging social distance and stay-at-home practices, it is nevertheless a sad confirmation of what we were anticipating.

Graduations are special ceremonies that celebrate a very important milestone in the lives of people who have had the fortunate opportunity to seek a higher education diploma. Lest we forget, even today, just a small percentage of the world's population has access to a college education. 

Why do we have commencement ceremonies at Montana State University? Graduations are a symbol of why we exist as institutions of higher education: They mark the moment when we give a student a ticket to success in life. We love graduations at Montana State University and, as evidence of it, over the years we have invested a considerable amount of time and creativity to make sure that our graduation ceremonies are among the best on the planet. 

We take pride in our graduations at Montana State University because we believe deeply in the transformation that occurs from the moment we welcome our students as freshmen up to the glorious moment when they are about to "commence" a new chapter in their life: from the young men and women who first entered our campus, to the instant when we send them out to the world as competent professionals, committed citizens and happy and healthy human beings. 

We know that the transformation has occurred, even if, for the time being, we cannot celebrate together. Because Montana State University's graduation is predicated on the conviction that the best days are still ahead of us, we want to ensure that we commemorate the Class of 2020 (the largest class in the history of Montana State University!) in very special ways. 

In determining the best manner to honor our future graduates, first and foremost we have kept in mind that this occasion is about OUR STUDENTS. We will send more detailed information directly to the members of the MSU Spring Class of 2020, but for now, I am glad the announce the following details:

  • Every graduating student of the MSU Spring Class of 2020 will receive a personalized invitation to join us for the MSU Winter 2020 Commencement ceremony, to be celebrated on Saturday, December 19, 2020, at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. In honor of our graduating students, we will hold two ceremonies, observing the same schedule that we had scheduled for the month of May. We will have the pomp and circumstance that such an occassion warrants and, of course, names of the MSU Spring Class of 2020 will appear in the printed program. It will be an outstanding celebration and we want you to be part of it!
  • Every graduating student of the MSU Spring Class of 2020 will receive a personalized invitation from their respective dean for a fabulous Virtual MSU College Celebration, to be held remotely the second week of May. This will be a unique celebration in which each of our graduating students will join their peers, faculty members and staff in a special way. Please stay tuned for more details on these ceremonies. A full schedule of celebration events will soon be available at this link.
  • Every graduating student of the MSU Spring Class of 2020 will receive a celebratory MSU Spring 2020 Commencement in a Box. This wonderful treasure chest will include the MSU diploma cover, a unique Blue-and-Gold tassel exclusively designed for the members of this class, MSU balloons for graduates' own "balloon drop" moment, and other surprises. In culmination, just like every MSU graduate in the past, MSU Spring Class of 2020 graduates will also proudly receive their diploma in a separate mailing.

We have many exciting ideas involving social media, sharing of photographs, and other memorable initiatives to mark this MSU Spring Class of 2020 for what it is: a historic and unforgettable group of extraordinary individuals. 

For now, I want you to know that we are immensely proud of every member of the MSU Spring Class of 2020. This profound sense of admiration extends to the faculty and staff who prepared them as well as to the to the parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, relatives and friends who also made this accomplishment happen. They all deserve a standing ovation!

We are Bobcats. We know how to power through adversity to moments of precious opportunity. We know that, in the end, what matters the most -- the only things that really matter -- is our people, our families and our profound sense of community. 

We love our MSU Class of May 2020! GO 'CATS, GO!

Please stay safe and healthy.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 4/1/2020 at 6:30 p.m.

Bobcat Parent & Family Program

Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

I know this email comes to you at a difficult time. We are all worried about the safety and wellbeing of our family and loved ones. I also know this: We are in this together. This morning, I sent an email to all MSU students reminding them that making short-term sacrifices right now will save lives. I am confident our students will rise to this challenge and that we will come through this stronger as a campus community.  

Since returning to work full-time last week, I have been checking in with my colleagues around campus and want to assure each of you that the student success services that your student is accustomed to at MSU are open and available remotely. There's a lot to cover, so bear with me on the length of this email.

First and foremost, encourage your student to visit our Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) support page. We know many students are feeling anxious based on their responses to the survey we sent earlier this week asking about how they are doing. The support services and staff at CPS are available to students no matter where they are in the country.   

We're also mindful that the shift to online classes has been trying for some of our students. Our Learn Anywhere webpage has links to many different resources for supporting your student's transition to and achievement in the remote learning environment.

The Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success has your student covered with their services, including Smarty Cats Tutoring, Financial Coaching, Success Advising, and Career Coaching--all available through online appointments.

Academic advising services have also been adapted, and the updated Advising Commons webpage has links that direct students to their advisors for their majors, additional information and resources. You can see what's available to your student under the "advising centers" and "students" tabs. 

I have been informed that academic advisors from Advising Commons are contacting their advisees to explain how their services will be offered this spring. Your student will set up phone or video meeting appointment via a scheduler link on the webpage. For general questions about the advising process, students are encouraged to contact the Gaines Advising Center at 406-994-3532 or advising@montana.edu.

Advising appointments are crucial at this time of year as students prepare to register for summer and fall classes.

MSU's Priority Registration for summer and fall 2020 classes began this week. Tony Campeau tells me his Office of the Registrar staff are working diligently to provide students the resources they need through the registration process. And because students are in the distance learning groove, nearly all 2020 summer session classes will be offered online. We're encouraging them to keep moving forward if they want to earn additional credits by registering in summer courses.

Tony and his staff even have a page devoted to information on common registration challenges.

Additionally, with authorization from the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, MSU Residence Life confirmed a process to issue pro-rated spring semester room and board refunds for students who are no longer living in the residence halls on March 23 or after. See the Res Life webpage for details on the process, timeline and qualifications to request a pro-rated refund as well as additional information for students and families to consider.

Please be aware that students are not requiredto move their personal belongings out of the residence halls to qualify for a pro-rated refund.

And as one final note, today is the first official day of the U.S. Census. The Census is designed to capture Americans where they would have normally lived and slept on April 1. For college students across the United States, that was supposed to be either on campus or in their college communities. As we all know, students are now either at home or largely dispersed. Despite this, the Census has given clear guidance that students are still to be counted where they would have been on April 1, even if they are elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you, as parents and family, can help urge your students to fill out their Census forms we would be most grateful. For more information, please visit MSU's Census 2020 page.   

Wishing that you, your student, loved ones and neighbors stay healthy and well. Please visit MSU's COVID-19 page to read all of the relevant communications and updates on campus.  


My sincere best,

Mathew R. Caires
Dean of Students

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Sent 4/1/2020 at 6:46 a.m.

Office of the Dean of Students

Dear MSU Students,

I hope you, your families and your loved ones are healthy and safe. This is a difficult and stressful time. Please know Montana State University, your university, is here for you. All the support services you've come to rely on are still available by phone, email or web. Reach out to us if you need help with your classes, mental health support, or any number of other needs. 

I also need your help. The pandemic is serious. Tuesday night, the White House announced that even if current social distancing is practiced, the country will still face millions of infections and more than 100,000-240,00 deaths.

As such, I am imploring you to stay at home and practice social distancing. Carriers of the disease can be asymptomatic and may appear healthy, not knowing they are spreading the virus to more vulnerable members of the community. Already, Gallatin County has the highest number of cases in the state. For the sake of your own safety and that of the community please do the following:  

  • Self-quarantine for 14 days if you have recently traveled anywhere outside the United States, outside Montana, or if you have come into contact with someone who is infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Avoid social gatherings.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits. Maintain at least a six (6)-foot distance away from others.
  • If you feel sick, stay home and call your medical provider or University Health Partners.
  • Practice proper hygiene including washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face, and disinfecting frequently touched items and surfaces. 

To quote from the MSU Code of Student Conduct: "Students are essential members of the MSU community and are expected to uphold and abide by certain standards of conduct that form the basis of the Code of Student Conduct."

I am asking all of you to rise to the proud standards we've come to expect from all Bobcats. Please follow the above guidance. Share a social media graphic about social distancing from this gallery. Read up and understand "flattening the curve." Your safety and the safety of your friends, neighbors and community are at stake.  

I know I can count on you, Bobcats. 

 

In your health,
Matthew R. Caires, Dean of students  

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Sent 3/31/20 at 9:00 a.m.

Division of Student Success

Important Information for MSU Students

from the Vice President of Student Success

 

In Support of Governer Bullock's Stay at Home Directive

You should have received an email from President Cruzado explaining how Montana State University is following Governor Bullock's Stay at Home Directive.

What does this mean for you as a student?

We want you to remain in a safe place while you finish this semester.  While you might not be here on campus learning, we want you to know your faculty, advisors, mentors, and tutors are here to support each-and-every-one of our Bobcats.

We want to connect with you virtually to help you finish the semster strong.  ALL Student Support Services are available by phone, WebEx, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.

I Urge You to Reach Out and Connect...Our Team Has You Covered!

Don't Know Where to Begin?  Unsure How to Connect?

Reach out to your Learn Anywhere Peer Mentor.

Your mentor can help with:

  • Gaining confidence with your online learning environment.
  • Navigating technication resources like D2L, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams.
  • Maintaining connections & communicating with your instructors & classmates.
  • Working on collaborative projects with ease.
  • Finding group or individual tutoring sessions.
  • Highlighting strategies to help you become a successful online learner.
  • Connecting you to a Financial Coach.
  • Fininshing the semester strong!

Email: learnanywherementor@montana.edu

Sign-up for Service: http://www.montana.edu/aycss/onlinelearningrequest.html

We are available from 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week!

Plan for Your Future

Connect with your Academic Advisor:
https://montana.edu/advising

Register for Next Semester:
http://www.montana.edu/registrar/registration.html

Develop Your Career Plan:
http://www.montana.edu/aycss/careers

Learn More About the New Pass/Fail Policy:
https://www.montana.edu/health/coronavirus/archived-comms.html#email24

 

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Sent 3/29/20 at 4:04 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

This is my son, Gerry, and one of my canine granddaughters, Tita.

Gerry is a physician in a hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Needless to say, I have always been very proud of him, but particularly now, because of everything he is doing during the crisis of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Gerry would be mortified if he knew I am bragging about him with you. It would be even worse if Gerry were to learn that I have also shared with you that I worry about him. I am concerned about Gerry, his teammates, his patients and the families of his patients, just as I worry about our MSU students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, Bobcat fans and friends.

Every morning at the start of my day, I send my blessings to Gerry and to Dr. Pamela Hiebert, my physician at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, and to all the physicians and nurses and lab technicians and paramedics and custodial staff and hospital employees and police in the entire state of Montana and beyond.

Thankfully, there are many Gerrys in the nation and in the world who are working hard to protect our communities. It is a reminder that this pandemic is many things, certainly, but it is also a very personal matter to many of us.

To all of the wonderful people who are taking such great care of us: Thank You. To all their family members who are making so many sacrifices for our sake: Thank You.

Let's show our gratitude to all the dedicated individuals who treasure our lives and our health: Let's Stay at Home.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/27/20 at 4:10 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

Another week of constant changes is about to close. I am sure that, with the COVID-19 emergency, many of you have experienced new levels of intensity and stress: A day's work feels like a week's worth of really hard work. Personally, this experience has afforded me with a new understanding about challenges that our ancestors faced and, thankfully, overcame. We are resilient and, together, we will face these challenges and come out stronger on the other side.

Yesterday, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a directive for Montanans to stay at home except for certain circumstances and for employees working in essential areas. The directive goes into effect one minute after midnight on Saturday, March 28, and will remain in place through Friday, April 10.

Under the Governor's directive, the university system remains an essential government function. As such, we will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff while also keeping essential functions of the university operational. Montana State University is open, and the critical functions of instruction, research and Extension continue.

For our employees, this means:

  • Faculty members continue to be involved in online and remote teaching, essential research, outreach and scholarly work with the excellence that characterizes them.
  • All employees who can telework without hampering essential operations of the university must do so. Please fill out a telework agreement with your supervisor and HR business partner.
  • Employees performing essential university functions that require being on campus will be contacted by their supervisors in consultation with HR to make arrangements. We will strictly observe social distancing and best practices of cleaning and hygiene.
  • Non-essential service employees who cannot work remotely are eligible to take leave, and Paid COVID-19 Leave may be available. Employees should contact Human Resources with specific questions. You can also email hrservicecenter@montana.edu with leave-related questions.

For our students:

  • Please know we will continue to offer your courses online and remotely. Additionally, services that you rely on -- the Writing Center, the Math Learning Center, the MSU Library, the Health Center, Counseling & Psychological Services, the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success and many more -- are still open and available to assist you either by phone or email. Reach out to us!
  • Because we are here to help you succeed, on Monday we will be sending a survey to students via email. We want to hear how you are doing, and what challenges you are facing. We need your feedback, so please watch for the survey Monday from "MSU Surveys" and fill it out.

As always, in addition to these emails we will be posting all the university's communications on the MSU COVID-19 page, which contains a wide range of resources.

These are difficult times my dear Bobcats. I know many of you are worried about your friends, your families and your futures. My heart is with you. I think about you all every moment of every day. May you, and those you love, be safe. We will walk together through this.

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/26/2020 at 9:00 a.m.

Vice President of Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

Dear Faculty, Staff & Students:

Thank you for your patience, resiliency, and extraordinary efforts during these difficult times.  Many of you have reached out the past several days and have expressed appreciation for receiving the Research Operations Level document and affiliated Appendix that guides the intensity of research in situations such as the one we find ourselves in now with the community spread of coronavirus.   

Using this guidance and document, all research programs will be expected to be at Research Operations Level 2 beginning at 5 pm, Friday, March 27, 2020.  We are making this decision with input from public health experts, faculty, staff, students and campus leadership. This decision also takes into account national and state trends, including the appearance of community-transmitted cases in the Gallatin Valley.  Once Research Operations Level 2 begins Friday, the university will remain at this level until further notice.  The decision to progress to Level 3, or back to Level 1, will depend upon a number of factors. However, it is unlikely we will return to Level 1 before mid-to-late April, and it could be longer depending upon the extent of the pandemic and guidance from health officials.

Please remember that Research Operations Level 2 means pausing research when possible, or developing a plan for modified operations when research is deemed essential per guidelines. Research Operations Level 2 still provides guidance and opportunity to pursue exemptions for research studies that “if discontinued, would generate significant financial or data loss.”  The Research Operations Level document and affiliated Appendix provides guidance and structure on how to pursue exemptions through the Office of Research Compliance.  This includes exemptions for COVID-19 research projects, which are beginning to ramp up with some groups, and we need to support and sustain these efforts.

This reduction in research, coupled with additional precautions for essential studies that cannot pause, is for the protection of students, faculty, staff and our community. As outlined in our earliest communications, we must contribute to what health experts refer to as “flattening the curve” so our healthcare system is better equipped to handle current and expected COVID-19 cases in Gallatin County and the state of Montana. We know this research designation is disruptive, and that a number of you – including our pre-tenure faculty – are rightfully anxious about what this means.  Please be aware that a number of creative discussions are ongoing to address expressed concerns. Importantly, the Provost memo this morning clarifies that pre-tenure faculty may request a one-year extension to the tenure clock.

All research programs must submit a Level 2 plan to their department head or center/institute director, as well as the Office of Research Compliance, by the end of business on Monday, March 30.   Do not hesitate to contact the VPREDGE office with any questions, and thank you for your support and anticipated understanding. 

 

Sincerely,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

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Sent 3/26/2020 at 7:00 a.m.

Office of the Provost

March 26, 2020

Ad hoc amendment of Montana State University tenure review procedures for currently employed probationary faculty

Responsible Party: Provost and Office of Academic Affairs
Effective Date: March 26, 2020
Scope of Applicability: Applies to faculty with probationary (pre-tenured) tenure status in the Spring of 2020, except those reviewed for tenure in AY 2020.

In consideration of faculty whose normal responsibility and distribution of effort were shifted in the spring semester of 2020, the normal timing of university reviews of probationary faculty shall be amended to allow flexibility as follows:

  1. All faculty with probationary tenure status in the Spring of 2020, except those reviewed for tenure in AY 2020, will be allowed to extend the tenure review period and the date of their next-scheduled mandatory review by one calendar year.
  2. Faculty wishing to exercise this option must notify their primary review administrator, who in turn shall notify their Dean and the Provost.
  3. Faculty shall provide notification if they intend to exercise this option in theacademic year prior to their scheduled review, at least one month before the deadline established for submission of dossiers
  4. .
  5. Candidates who exercise this option for their retention review will have their tenure review extended by one year; they may however, opt for an “early” tenure review,according to the existing provisions of the faculty handbook.
  6. The extension of the tenure clock by the exercise of this option is independent of any other accommodations made in conjunction with existing Family Medical Leaveor Faculty modified Duties policies.
  7. The calendar dates associated with the various stages of the review cycle in each academic year will not be adjusted as part of this policy.
  8. This policy applies only to reviews of probationary faculty; it does not apply to reviews for the promotion of tenured associate professors to the rank of full professor or to post tenure review.

Most Sincerely,

Dr. Robert L. Mokwa | Executive Vice President and Provost
Montana State University

View as original PDF

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Sent 3/23/2020 at 4:14 p.m.

Associated Students of MSU

Hey Bobcats,

Welcome back, I hope everyone had a relaxing and safe spring break. We are in an unprecedented situation, and what your MSU experience looks like is going to be quite different for the next few months. As I'm sure most of you know, classes are online for the remainder of the semester and students have been asked to return home if at all possible. In addition, it was announced yesterday that there will be expanded Pass/Fail grading this semester. In light of these and other recent changes I wanted to reach out and pass along the most up to date information I have to help ensure we can all stay safe and help combat the spread of COVID-19.

First and foremost, it is imperative that we are doing our part by social distancing and following all relevant guidance from health authorities to help reduce the rate at which this virus spreads. Please, if you traveled for spring break, particularly those who traveled abroad, follow the Governor's directive and self quarantine for 14 days after you return. In addition, if you are not quarantining please be sure to follow the below government guidelines.

  • Even if you are young, and otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Avoid social gatherings, and when you are with others practice social distancing. Stay at least six (6) feet away.
  • Avoid eating and drinking at restaurants. Use drive-thru, pick up, or delivery options.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
  • DO NOT visit nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
  • Practice good hygiene:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water often. Soap and water kills the coronavirus
    • Avoid touching your face
    • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow
    • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Call your medical provider.

I know some of these measures may seem extreme, but it is important to remember that we are protecting those around us as much as we are protecting ourselves. With 10 confirmed cases in Gallatin county as of yesterday, the highest of any county in the state, it is more important than ever to do our part. You never know who may be an asymptomatic carrier or who may have a family member or roommate who is at great risk if they were to be exposed to this virus. Please think of those in your life who are most vulnerable and take these steps to protect them and those like them in our community who are relying on all of us to keep them safe.

Do what you can to avoid social gatherings of any size and crowded public places. Practice good hygiene and stay home from work or school if at all possible and especially if you feel sick. Support each other and help hold each other accountable to make the best choices for ourselves and our community. It will only take a few dozen serious cases to put extreme strain on our local healthcare system, so it is up to us to ensure we do not reach that point.

If you are able, I would also encourage you to find ways to support those around you in these efforts. Consider supporting a local business that may be struggling, donating supplies to the hospital, or donating blood. Whatever way in which you are able please support each other and our community.

Stay safe and we will get through this.

Sincerely,

Taylor Blossom | President
Associated Students of Montana State University

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Sent 3/23/2020 at 12:36 p.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Thank you for the heroic efforts you are making to adapt your classes to remote teaching, learning and assessment. I am inspired by your spirit of collaboration and innovation, your commitment to the success of your students and your grit as you go about doing the good work.

As we resume classes this week, let’s keep our spirits up for our students and for each other. At this moment, our top priority must be to reassure our students by showing them our devotion to their progress and success. Many will be bewildered and confused by the sudden changes; some may feel detached and isolated. Let’s work together to bring our vulnerable young men and women back to a safe place of learning where they can continue their work to prepare to advance the human prospect.

I encourage you to take advantage of the help available from CFE and ATO. Be sure to make regular visits to Learn Anywhere webpages that are designed to support your work. The site is being updated regularly, please give feedback and suggestions for its improvement.

Take note of the recent addition of a section that provides guidance to students as they transient to the online environment. Direct your student to the information on good practices for remote learning as well as links to the many MSU support services that have been adapted to the remote learning environment: advising, tutoring, help centers, disability services and AYCSS (Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success).

Expect to receive emails from students alerting you to accommodations approved by the Office of Disability Services. Students have been asked to contact you as soon as possible, so that you can prepare appropriately. You can learn more about making your course accessible for all students here.

Be on the watch for warning signs of invidious discrimination that could develop if people were to thoughtlessly associate an infectious disease outbreak with an ethnicity or nationality. Please refer to the CDC website for additional guidance.

Finally, be especially watchful for signs of student difficulties. In these uncertain times, it has never been more important for each of us to share in the effort to engage and retain students. I encourage you to gather information frequently in your courses about potential lack of online engagement by students. Pay close attention to student participation in: electronic communication, attendance at online meetings, Brightspace activity and participation in discussion groups, for example. Convey lack of participation by a student to the “early alert” program in AYCSS.

Together we will get through this. We may perhaps be better educators as a result of these experiences. Please reach out if you need help. Take care, stay healthy and keep spreading the kindness.

Sincerely Yours,

On behalf of the Office of Academic Affairs, ATO and CFE

Bob Mokwa
Executive Vice President and Provost
Montana State University

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Sent 3/23/2020 at 8:49 a.m.

University Health Partners

Pharmacy Information for MSU Students

The pharmacy is OPEN normal semester hours and HAPPY to serve

  1. To ensure efficient pharmacy function, PLEASE CALL AHEAD!!! Please call 406-994-5498 and leave a message in our confidential voicemail. There is no need to call back once you leave a message.
  2. IF you are staying home and need your prescription TRANSFERRED: Have your LOCAL pharmacy call us @ 406-994-5498. THEY will call MSU pharmacy and verbally transfer/fax your rx from us. Call your local pharmacy before you pick up to ensure it is ready.

For your safety and those around you: We will be following CDC guidelines and implementing social distancing. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation!

Pharmacy Hours:
Monday-Tuesday: 8:30-4:30PM
Wednesday: 9:00-4:30PM
Thursday-Friday: 8:30-4:30PM

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Sent 3/22/2020 at 8:02 p.m.

Office of the Provost

Dear MSU Students,

 

In response to the global health emergency imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Montana State University switched from in-person classes to remote delivery modality for all Spring 2020 courses beginning Monday, March 23, 2020. I want to thank you for your understanding of the extensive measures we are taking to protect the health and safety of students and the entire MSU community. The flexibility and resilience you have shown through this situation is remarkable and appreciated highly.

I am writing to inform you that as part of our emergency coursework accommodations, MSU is implementing an expanded Pass/Fail (P/F) grading option for all undergraduate courses, effective Spring 2020 Semester.

These unprecedented circumstances necessitate extraordinary measures to accommodate difficulties and challenges faced by students and faculty in managing personal matters during a pandemic, while simultaneously navigating a new course delivery modality. Universities across the country are implementing this measure because it is the right thing to do for students and for faculty who are confronting uncertainty, the likes and scope of which none of us have ever experienced.

These temporary emergency accommodations to the MSU pass/fail policy will allow students the options to transition courses to a P/F grade at the end of the semester. Students not wishing to transition to P/F will still receive the letter grade assigned by their instructor.

Undergraduate students who choose to receive a P/F grade for one or more of their courses can do so by submitting a form available on the University Registrar’s website, no later than five calendar days after final grades have been posted by the Registrar. A revised P/F request form and specific guidelines for these emergency accommodations will be available on the Registrar’s web page at least two weeks prior to the end of Spring Semester.

The Graduate School will publish specific information about the declaration of P/F grades for students in graduate programs in the 2019-2020 catalog addendum.

Additional details regarding these emergency grading accommodations for undergraduate students will be published in the 2019-2020 catalog addendum and include:

  • Faculty will grade students as usual per their syllabi grading structure during the semester with an understanding that the transition to remote learning might impact each student differently.
  • The default option for students is the traditional A¬-F letter grade. Students may choose to receive a P/F grade in place of a letter grade for any number of their courses. The P/F grade option can be requested by a student no later than five calendar days after final grades have been posted by the Registrar.
  • For students who request a P/F grade, the MSU Registrar will record the P/F designation using a rubric in which all grades of C- or higher earn a Pass.
  • Course grades converted to a Pass grade in this temporary P/F option for Spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, minor, prerequisite, progress toward degree, graduation requirements, transfer requirements, scholarships, financial aid requirements and application to MSU graduate school programs.
  • MSU’s regional accreditor, NWCCU, has approved this modified P/F grading system for our use this semester. Discipline-specific accrediting bodies and professional licensing agencies have agreed to approve P/F grading schemes and will accept Pass grades for required courses, prerequisites and elective courses. This includes nursing, engineering, education and others.
  • Under the P/F option, neither pass nor fail grades will be factored into students’ Grade Point Average (GPA). Pass grades will count towards earned semester hours. An F grade will not count towards earned semester hours in either the A-F or P/F options.
  • MSU will include a designation on students’ transcripts, indicating the extraordinary circumstances of the global public health emergency during Spring 2020. It appears this will be common practice at most universities in the United States.

Given the extraordinary circumstances we currently face, and after extensive consideration, this amended pass/fail policy will provide a good balance to student and faculty needs in both the short and longer terms. Faculty will continue working closely with you remotely for the remainder of this semester to ensure that they successfully provide you the body of knowledge that you have come to expect in all of your courses at Montana State University.

If you have any questions about how this expanded P/F grading option affects your curricular or extra-curricular situation, please contact your faculty advisor or professional advisor.

In closing, I urge you to stick with your course of study and to work with your faculty and advisor to complete your courses. Like you, I look forward to returning to a sense of normalcy by next fall as we work together and adhere to best practices to minimize contagion of the novel coronavirus.

The future is full of hope and promise, and I have great faith that we will get through this situation together and enjoy a bright tomorrow.

 

Sincerely,

Provost Bob Mokwa
Montana State University

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Sent 3/20/2020 at 7:16 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

 

As we get closer to resuming the Spring 2020 Semester, I want to reiterate a few important messages:

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montana University System is encouraging all students on all campuses to return to their home of origin to live with their family and loved ones. The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is strongly urging all students to not return to their campuses or campus communities if they have another housing option.
  • All classes will be offered online beginning Monday, March 23. There will be no classroom instruction on campus. Please see the MSU COVID-19 webpage for links to resources for both teaching and learning online. Students, please contact your faculty via email.
  • Following guidance from the Montana University System, the MSU campus is open. However, a number of buildings, including the fitness centers, are closed. The MSU Library will provide online access, but the Renne Library building is closed to foot traffic. The Math Learning Center and the MSU Writing Center, among others, are all operating remotely.
  • University Health Partners is open. Students must call ahead for any visit before coming into the clinic at 406-994-2311. Counseling & Psychological Services is open, but again, students must call ahead at 406-994-4531. CPS has an excellent webpage for managing stress and anxiety during this time.
  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock has made a strong recommendation that all travelers returning to Montana from anywhere outside the United States self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival and call their local public health department to notify them of their self-quarantine. In Bozeman and Gallatin County, our local health department is the Gallatin City-County Health Department and its phone number is: 406-548-0123
  • If you traveled outside of the United States during spring break and live in one of MSU's residence halls, we urge you to not return to campus. Please stay with your family and loved ones until your 14-day self-quarantine period is over. Your family and loved ones are best able to provide you care should you need it. Unfortunately, MSU has no capacity to quarantine students returning from overseas spring break travel. For students who need critical items from their residence hall rooms but are not immediately returning to campus, the university has set up a request form.
  • The Montana Commissioner of Higher Education has authorized campuses to begin the process of providing prorated refunds, to the extent possible, for room and board to those students who have departed the residence halls and/or canceled meal plans based on recent guidance from the Montana University System regarding the COVID-19 situation. Refunds may be issued for the period from March 23 through the end of Spring term. Students must complete a cancellation form to be eligible for the refund. The cancellation form, as well as specific procedures for processing refunds, will be available Wednesday, March 25. Please allow until April 15 for reimbursement payment.
  • The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education coordinates all commencement ceremonies for campuses of the Montana University System. As soon as we receive pertinent information about Spring graduation ceremonies, we will share it immediately.
  • We have an MSU COVID-19 webpage with a wealth of information and FAQs for students, faculty and staff. Many of your questions will be answered there. The most important recommendations continue to be: Please stay at home, continue to observe social distancing (6 feet or more from each other), and wash your hands regularly.

I want to thank you for your flexibility during this time of uncertainty and great adjustments. If the last week has taught us a lesson, it is to start every new day with the expectation that the ways in which we conduct our routines might be and will be altered. Given this new temporary reality, let's commit to helping each other and to be kind to individuals around us who, chances are, are also experiencing great changes and alterations in their life.

Have a restful weekend.

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/20/2020 at 9:41 a.m.

Vice President of Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

 

As troubling as the news of the COVID-19 pandemic is, it makes me proud to be part of a team of researchers at this university. This event brings into sharp focus  the  importan ce of  our research mission to push the boundaries of human knowledge in all directions. The research we conduct today has  the  potential to save lives tomorrow, and make for a more sustainable, prosperous, and equitable world. I want to thank you all for what you do, and for being patient and working together as we make our way through a moment in time none of us could have imagined. 

Attached is a document clarifying our newly defined Research Operation levels under this COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently working under Level 1 Research Operations, and would like for researchers to think through their unique circumstances if we needed to ever proceed to Levels 2-4. Appendix A within the attachment includes a template and structure to how you and your team can think through the various Research Operation levels.

I want to reiterate that we are currently at Level 1 Research Operations.  The situation remains fluid, and want you all to see how things could progress if the COVID-19 outbreak necessitates.  Many laboratories have voluntarily proceeded to Level 2 on their own, and you are absolutely allowed to proactively do so if your circumstances warrant.

Thank you to the many deans, department heads, and directors – as well as several faculty – who have provided input into this document throughout the  week. I am  grateful for the collegiality and support you have provided in these difficult times.  Stay the course, and thank you for all you do for Montana StateUniversity.

 

Regards,

Jason R. Carter, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education

 

Attachment: Research Operation Levels

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Sent 3/18/2020 at 9:35 p.m.

Office of the President

 

"This is no ordinary time, and no time for weighing anything except what we can do best for the country as a whole," -Eleanor Roosevelt, 1940

 

Dear MSU Community,

I have important announcements to share with you in regard to the most recent precautionary measures for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I kindly ask that you please read to the end of this email as well as check MSU COVID-19 webpage for FAQs and other information.

Tonight we have received guidance from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education that applies to the entire Montana University System. This guidance is done in response to the increasing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic around the country and in Montana. These decisions are made with the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff as our primary focus.

REMOTE COURSE DELIVERY THROUGH END OF SPRING SEMESTER

Courses and labs will continue to be delivered via distance, remote and online means through the end of the spring semester. There will be no classroom instruction.

In a very small number of specific and exceptional circumstances, where learning can only be achieved through hands-on methods (e.g., welding, off-campus nursing clinicals), in-person instruction will continue. In those situations, campuses will implement responsible social distancing and cleaning practices in order to promote a safe teaching and learning space.

*Note — If you are unclear about your courses, communicate with your instructor directly via email.

IF YOU HAVE ANOTHER HOUSING OPTION, PLEASE DO NOT RETURN TO CAMPUS AFTER SPRING BREAK.

The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is strongly urging all students to not return to their campuses or campus communities from spring break.

This is a strong recommendation based on evidence that demonstrates the best way to slow the COVID-19 pandemic is to stop people from congregating in their communities and around the country.

We ask that all students take this request very seriously. The spread of the virus will only become more severe in coming weeks if we are not able to stop the spread now.

It is a known fact that people who have no symptoms can carry this disease. While you may feel perfectly fine, you may be a carrier. Each of us has a responsibility to prevent others from getting very sick.

*Note — To discuss your personal residence hall housing situation, please contact Residence Life at housing@montana.edu.

IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY LIVING ON CAMPUS, PLEASE CONSIDER A HOUSING ALTERNATIVE

We understand that some students chose to remain in the residence halls for spring break. We urge those students to please find other, less-dense living arrangements for their own health and safety as well as that of others.

The higher density living of the residence halls is not recommended by health officials. As with the previous section for students that are currently off campus, this is a very hard, but necessary, message to transmit and we urge you to consider it.

*Note — To discuss your personal residence hall housing situation, please contact Residence Life at housing@montana.edu.

PERSONAL BELONGINGS OF ON-CAMPUS RESIDENCE LIFE STUDENTS

Please do not return to campus to retrieve your belongings even if you live in Montana.

Residence Life will be communicating directly with students on how they can get their absolutely most essential items.

*Note — For other questions, or to discuss your personal situation, please contact Residence Life at housing@montana.edu.

STRICT SOCIAL DISTANCING ENFORCED ON CAMPUS

To be clear, all campuses of the Montana University System are open and students who need to live on campuses will be able to do so, if absolutely necessary for their circumstances. But please, if you can disperse to less-dense living arrangements, do so.

For those students who must continue to live on campus because of their personal circumstances, social distancing will be enforced in the residence and dining halls.

MSU has closed all of its fitness facilities, including Marga Hoseaus, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, and all residence hall fitness rooms.

The MSU Renne Library will be closed to patron visits. Students, faculty and staff can still use the library online from their homes and will be able to request audio-visual materials and book loans, if needed.

Finally, the Student Union Building will observe new hours of operation, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday.

ALL BIG SKY CONFERENCE COMPETITIONS CANCELLED, PRACTICE SUSPENDED

The Big Sky Conference announced today that all of its competitions and championships for the remainder of the 2020 spring sports season have been cancelled. In addition, practices and workouts for all teams in every Big Sky sponsored sport have been suspended. MSU Bobcat Athletics has closed the strength and conditioning facilities, weight rooms and other facilities relying on shared equipment. MSU Bobcat student-athletes maintain access to health care and academic services by appointment as well as all services available through digital methods.

I understand we are asking our students to take extraordinary measures, but these are extraordinary times. We face an unprecedented health crisis where our personal interests must come second to the health and safety of all of those around us. What is our goal? To welcome you — and every member of our community — as soon as possible, when you come back to Montana State.

I want for you to think that this is a challenge that we can accept and conquer together.

As Bobcats, I am counting on you.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/16/2020 at 9:30 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

 

First, I want to thank you all for your patience and cooperation as we navigate together the ever-changing situation with COVID-19. On a daily basis, I hear stories of students, faculty and staff stepping up to the challenges we face or showing each other extraordinary kindness during these unpredictable times. Thank you! You all make me proud to be a Bobcat.

This afternoon, President Trump issued guidelines urging Americans to work from home when possible, to avoid discretionary travel as well as gatherings of 10 people of more. In light of this and other guidance provided by local and federal health officials, I want to share with you updates on the following topics:

  • Remote work for employees
  • Additional sick leave for sick employees
  • University-sponsored international and domestic travel
  • Cancellation of university-sponsored events
  • Significant closures and cancellations
  • On-campus dining new guidelines
  • MSU Summer School update
  • MSU Extension changes
  • Closure of large classrooms not in use

REMOTE WORK FOR EMPLOYEES

This afternoon President Trump issued guidelines urging Americans to work from home when possible. In light of this development, MSU and the Montana University System are issuing the following guidance to ensure continuity of operations for the university while minimizing spread of COVID-19 and assuring our campus remains accessible to our students, faculty and staff who depend on the essential services we provide.

I want to reiterate that message for our employees: If you are sick, are at higher risk of becoming sick or have a close family member at greater risk, you should stay home and utilize your sick leave. Please follow normal call-in procedures and communicate with your supervisor on a regular basis.

MSU managers will work with faculty and staff who have heightened family needs at home to consider alternate or remote work arrangements for faculty and staff to meet a family's childcare needs, while striving to maintain operations in the workplace, when possible.

Even with the number of students on campus greatly reduced via remote instruction until further notice, there is still a vital need for essential core services to be maintained on campus. Part of the reason to consider telework arrangements for positions that can be performed remotely is to lessen the traffic and exposure to health risks for our essential service providers whose responsibilities cannot be exercised off campus.

To further improve the type of distancing and optimal space encouraged by health agencies at this time, we encourage departments and units to use greater flexibility in work-from-home or telework arrangements where feasible until further notice. Alternative hoteling options in large spaces that guarantee social distancing for less than 10 people can also be explored as an option at this time.

Employees should discuss remote work possibilities with their supervisors. A Telework Agreement that establishes expectations for employee-supervisor contact and accountability during the temporary off-campus work arrangement is available from Human Resources. Please contact your department's HR Business Partner for this agreement template.

For the staff in residence halls, dining services, university police departments, physical plants, student health clinics -- we realize that these duties cannot be performed off campus, and I want to express my profound gratitude for the work you do. Having fewer people on campus will assist in promoting responsible social distancing. We encourage managers in these aforementioned programs to assist with staff needs in the days ahead.

ADDITIONAL SICK LEAVE FOR SICK EMPLOYEES

Policies guiding all employees are established by the Montana University System (MUS) and approved by the Board of Regents. Today, MUS announced that for employees who are experiencing health issues, the system will provide a new Paid COVID-19 Leave for up to 14 calendar days, subject to certain eligibility requirements and in coordination with regular statutory sick-leave requirements for state government employees. MSU Human Resources officers are working on plans to administer this special leave in accordance with state guidelines.

Generally, the Paid COVID-19 Leave will assist in situations where individuals are told by public health officials, or health care providers, to quarantine because of potential exposure. In a separate context, employees whose job duties and responsibilities do not allow a work-from-home arrangement may be eligible to use Paid COVID-19 Leave for up to 14 calendar days for medical needs or reasons of illness that sick leave would normally cover before having to use accrued sick leave. It should be noted, employees in this situation are also eligible to telecommute if they meet the guidelines for working from home: i.e., they may not have to use sick leave or Paid COVID-19 Leave.

Details are still being finalized, but this leave program will be managed consistently with steps taken with other agencies, departments and branches of state government.

UNIVERSITY SPONSORED INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC TRAVEL

All university-sponsored and affiliated international travel is canceled through the end of the semester, Friday, May 8, 2020. All university-sponsored and affiliated discretionary (not required) domestic travel is also canceled through the end of the semester.

CANCELLATION OF UNIVERSITY EVENTS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE FOR NEXT 15 DAYS

Today, President Trump issued national guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 which urged Americans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people for the next 15 days. MSU will be following this guidance and canceling all events of 10 people or greater until March 31, 2020. Please send your cancellation notice to University Communications at universitycommunicatons@montana.edu. All cancellations will be combined into a master list on the MSU COVID-19 webpage.

NOTICE OF SIGINIFICANT CLOSURES AND CANCELLATIONS

  • The MSU Spring Rodeo scheduled for April 2-5 is postponed. Potential re-scheduled dates are under consideration at the moment. Currently held tickets will be honored for the new dates. No action is needed to keep your tickets and current seat locations. Your ticket will be honored for the rescheduled dates. For any further ticket inquiries, including requests for refunds, please reach out to Bobcat Ticket Office at 406-994-2287.
  • The MSU Museum of the Rockies will be closed to the public from March 17 through March 31. This is a preventative action to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and ensure the safety of our community, visitors, staff and volunteers. Museum staff will continue to work from the museum or from their homes, depending on the nature of their job. They will be available via email or phone.

ON-CAMPUS DINING NEW GUIDANCE

In accordance with Gallatin City-County Health Department directives issued this afternoon, restaurants, bars and other venues in Bozeman will close tonight at 9 p.m. and remain closed - except for take-out or drive-through, until 8 a.m. March 24. University food venues Miller and Rendezvous are exempt from this order, with the condition that they will only be open to students, faculty and staff who must show a CatCard in order to use the facility.

Additionally, Rendezvous Dining Pavilion will be shifting to Grab 'N' Go/Take Out only to facilitate MSU students, faculty and staff to get their food and return to their residence hall rooms or office spaces. As noted before, Rendezvous Dining Pavilion is not authorized to be open to the public. Miller Dining Commons is closed for spring break.

MSU Faculty and staff wishing to use Rendezvous Dining Pavilion, will need a CatCard to gain entry. CatCards may be obtained at the CatCard Office in the basement of the Miller Dining Commons.

The retail food operations in the Strand Union, Norm Asbjornson Hall, and the Renne Library have been shut down to comply with the Gallatin City-County Health Department order.

CLOSURE OF LARGE CLASSROOMS NOT IN USE

During the COVID-19 emergency, MSU will begin disinfecting and locking large classrooms to minimize risk of contamination. This will allow MSU's custodial staff to focus on occupied spaces throughout campus.

SUMMER SCHOOL

MSU will offer Summer School courses, starting May 18. At this time, our plan is to deliver the majority of courses via remote and online instructional methods for the first 12 weeks of Summer Session. Decisions about field courses, summer field trips, field camps, expeditions and other hands-on experiential learning will depend on guidelines from national and local health authorities. The situation is too dynamic to allow definitive decision-making about in-person or group courses. I am thankful to our innovative MSU faculty who are hard at work now preparing for a robust, online summer term!

MSU EXTENSION CHANGES

Effective today, March 16, MSU Extension will discontinue face-to-face programming through the end of March, at which time it will reevaluate the situation with the intent to resume as soon as possible.

MSU Extension gatherings of 10 people or more should be avoided through the end of March.

As for large group gatherings, MSU Extension will adhere to the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that for the next eight weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals), cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people. MSU Extension will follow this guidance through May 10.

Service to clientele will continue through phone calls, emails, websites, social media, news releases, radio and other appropriate means. MSU Extension staff will be thinking creatively about new ways to deliver educational and engagement opportunities.

Once again, I want to thank the entire MSU Community for their spirit of collaboration and endurance during this time. Together, we will make our way through this challenge. We are Bobcats. We know how to get things done.

Please continue to check the MSU COVID-19 webpage for updates and past communications.

Please stay healthy and safe,

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Sent 3/16/2020 at 9:30 a.m.

Bobcat Parent & Family Program

Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

 

This special edition message is part of Montana State University’s ongoing effort
to provide timely information needed by
our parents and families. On March 15, the CDC issued guidance recommending that organizations cancel in-person events that consist of 50 people or more. Consequently, the migration to distance education will remain in place through the duration of the spring semester. Classes will be taught via remote delivery for the entirety of the semester. At this time, there is no intent to return to face-to-face instruction in spring 2020. ( Correction 3/17/20 2:36 p.m.: Classes will be taught online and remotely from March 23 and until further notice. The wording about the entirety of the semester was in error.)

We believe this shift to remote delivery will give our students and families needed options as they finalize their educational, personal and family plans
in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Although current plans are for the campus to remain open after students return from spring break, students
who do not wish to return to campus will have the opportunity to complete their courses remotely. Please continue to monitor the COVID-19 webpage
for the most recent updates.

 

Sincerely,

Tony Campeau
Registrar & Acting Dean of Students
 

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Sent 3/16/2020 at 8:28 a.m.

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

 

I shared with you previously, Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, has tested positive for COVID-19. The Commissioner, as well as officials and guests of the Montana University System, including Montana State University, participated in the Board of Regents meeting, held during March 5-6 in Dillon, Montana. None of the MSU participants have COVID-19 symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, state health authorities are asking us to self-quarantine until March 20. Yesterday afternoon, we received the following message from the Office of Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, which we wanted to share.

From the Office of the Governor yesterday:

First, Governor Bullock wants to thank local public health for their incredible work and being the front lines to our state's response. It is through your work we are able to keep the public safe and Montanans informed.

To help clarify:

There have been concerns regarding two individuals testing positive to COVID-19 who were at the Montana Board of Regents meeting March 5-6 in Dillon. With the current information we now have, from our local public health partners who have contacted and interviewed the patients, it is clear that these individuals were not symptomatic at the time of the meeting. These individuals started to show symptoms days after the meeting. By the current CDC recommendations, no one at the Board of Regents meeting would be considered a contact and no one would need to be quarantined. However, this is a very dynamic situation, and we are learning more and more about this virus every day.

Therefore, under the abundance of caution, we are asking each of the members who attended the Board of Regents meeting to self-quarantine until March 20 .

I would like to reiterate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent webpage which we urge you to visit at,  "Know the facts about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)." Please continue to observe responsible social distance measures and keep washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. We will continue to post MSU-related updates on the  MSU COVID-19 webpage.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we make our way through this unprecedented time.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/13/2020 at 4:17 p.m.

Office of the President

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

 

The Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education have been coordinating with local, state, and federal leaders and resources to establish COVID-19 guidelines for MSU research and graduate education. The situation is fluid, and we may need to provide additional clarifications in the coming days and weeks. Our top priority is the health and safety of our community. It is our collective responsibility to help slow the spread and reduce the number of infections of COVID-19 - or what health officials refer to as "flattening the curve" - particularly for vulnerable populations in our community. We encourage you to take CDC recommended steps of social distancing, isolation when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, good handwashing practices, and adhering to appropriate cleaning and sanitation practices.

At the same time, we've never had a more urgent time to conduct research. Maintaining research activities, with minimal disruption during the COVID-19 outbreak, is an institutional priority. Indeed, we have MSU faculty collaborating with colleagues across the nation on research related to COVID-19, and we have a moral obligation to be part of the solution. At the same time, we need to go about this safely and responsibly.

Accordingly, we have developed a COVID-19 FAQ document this is attached to this email, and will be posted on the MSU COVID-19 webpage. The FAQ document provides guidance on several issues, including the following:

  • Lab-specific communication plan
  • On-campus vs. remote research
  • Animal care research
  • Personal Protective Equipment shortages
  • IRB research
  • Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Graduate Research Assistantships
  • Graduate Student Thesis/Dissertation Defense

We know that we have not addressed all of the research and graduate education questions. As such, we encourage you to reach out to our office with additional questions or concerns, and we will attempt to address them by updating the VPREDGE FAQ document.

In closing, I want to thank you all for your continued efforts in maintaining a safe and productive research environment during this challenging time.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

Jason Carter
Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Graduate Education

See Frequently Asked Questions about research and graduate education

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Sent 3/13/2020 at 11:00am

Admissions

Dear prospective students, family members, and parents,

 

Like many of you, we have been closely monitoring the development of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). To help limit COVID-19 risk to our prospective students and community, Montana State University is taking additional precautions to keep you and our community safe by suspending on-campus visit programs and tours starting Monday, March16 and shifting to virtual visits. We understand the time and effort that goes into the college search, and we apologize that we are unable to host you at this time.

You’ll find a great deal of information which will be helpful in lieu of a personal visit here on our COVID-19 and Visiting MSU Webpage. We will be updating this website very frequently with various links, presentations, online visit options and resources organized by subject as soon as we possibly can.

Our sense of gratitude extends to the families and students who have expressed interest in our university. We will do everything we can to provide the best possible online resources for you and hope that, soon, we’ll be able to welcome you to our campus in person. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at admissions@montana.edu or call us at 1 (888) MSU-CATS.

To learn more about how MSU is handling COVID-19, please visit our informational page.

 

Ronda Russell
Director of Admissions
Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana 59717
888-MSU-CATS; 406-994-2452
rondarussell@montana.edu

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Sent 3/12/2020 at 11:35am

MONTANA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM | OFFICE OF COMMISSIONER OF HIGHER EDUCATION

MUS logoMONTANA UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
OFFICE OF COMMISSIONER OF HIGHER EDUCATION


 

560 N. Park, 4th Floor – PO Box 203201
Helena, Montana 59620-3201
(406) 449-9124 - FAX (406) 449-9171

 

To: Montana Board of Regents; Montana University System Chief Executive Officers; Montana Community College Presidents; Governor Steve Bullock
From: Clayton T. Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education
Date: March 12, 2020
Subject: COVID-19 UPDATE

In partnership with the Board of Regents and as Commissioner of Higher Education for the Montana University System, the health and safety of our campus communities remains our top priority. With that in mind, and in light of the rapidly evolving challenge presented by the COVID-19 outbreak, I am directing all MUS campuses to implement the following decisions as soon as possible:

  1. As of March 23rd, 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. All MUS students and employees need to monitor their official email address for more communications and planning details between now and March 23rd.

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. 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. Throughout, my office will continue to consult with Governor Steve Bullock, the Montana University System Board of Regents, health authorities, and other statewide partners as we assess our 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.

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.

 

Clayton T. Christian
Commissioner of Higher Education

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 Sent 3/11/2020 at 2:20pm

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

 

After thoughtful consideration and careful monitoring of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation, and in coordination with the Council on Undergraduate Research, Montana State University is canceling the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR 2020) that was scheduled for March 26-28 on our campus.

While at this time there is not a confirmed COVID-19 case in the state of Montana, as a responsible community member, canceling the conference is the right decision.

If you had registered to attend NCUR 2020 and need additional information, please visit the national conference website at http://www.cur.org/what/events/students/ncur/2020/. For information pertinent to the MSU campus community, visit http://www.montana.edu/ncur2020.

I understand canceling the conference is upsetting and inconvenient for the many talented undergraduate researchers who planned to present their hard work. This decision might also come as a disappointment for their faculty and mentors. We apologize for any inconvenience this decision might create.

I want to thank the faculty, students and staff of Montana State University who worked hard and diligently in planning NCUR 2020, especially to our director of undergraduate research, Colin Shaw. Our sense of gratitude extends to our community partners who were so responsive in planning for this conference. Please know how much our partnership means to this university.

 

Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/11/2020 at 2:16pm

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty, Instructors and Staff,

 

We understand many of you have questions about Montana State University moving to online course delivery in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19. This message provides guidance on steps we are asking you to take in preparation for converting all in-person teaching to an online modality for remote delivery of instruction.

We ask you to make these preparations in accordance with the university’s main objective of keeping you and our campus community safe.

We anticipate that your next question will be: What will be the triggering criteria for the university to go fully or partially online?

We continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Montana Department of Health, the Gallatin City-County Health Department and direction from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. To date, the CDC has only issued “Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education.”  This guidance can best be described as “make preparations.”

As of today, no Montana University System campus has received authority to cancel in-person classes. However, faculty at MSU are encouraged to prepare for that eventuality and begin transitioning their courses online as soon as they are ready.

As you prepare to move to online delivery, please ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can you teach your current in-person, face-to-face courses remotely?
  2. If so, what strategy will you utilize; i.e., Brightspace, Webex, video presentations, TechSmith Relay, or a combination of technology teaching tools.
  3. How will you conduct and coordinate assessments, exams and assignments?
  4. How will you facilitate group discussions and interactive learning?

A task force led by Provost Mokwa has developed a web-based resource –which is live now– called MSU Learn Anywhere, to assist you with course organization and technology tools for use in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses under several potential scenarios:

  1. The course instructor must teach from a distance.
  2. One or more students must engage from a distance.
  3. In-person classroom instruction is suspended for a period of time.
  4. Health officials advise faculty and students to practice “social distancing.”

In all of these scenarios, faculty will need to invoke alternative distance-based instructional methods. In some circumstances, faculty may also need to adjust course content, while maintaining and achieving key learning outcomes.

We recognize that we are asking you midway through the semester to prepare for re-tooling and even re-thinking how you teach. We make these preparations because we know that you want to avoid putting your students, and yourselves, at risk. Please devote time over the next 24 hours to review the teaching and learning resources available to assist you at MSU Learn Anywhere and do not hesitate to seek help with any aspect of your teaching. You will see these pages offer practical, implementable advice for selecting and using alternative instructional methods for remote course delivery.

Under these circumstances, the Department of Education and our regional accreditor, NWCCU have provided universities permission to change teaching modalities within individual courses, without going through a formal review and approval process. Put another way; MSU has approval from our oversight agencies to re-imagine your expectations for students with alternative, equivalent assignments in the event it becomes necessary to modify your mode of course delivery from in-person to hybrid or to fully online.

Plan to use the two days, March 26-27, that were previously reserved for the NCUR event to participate in training and to experiment –pilot– online instruction of your classes. Faculty who desire to move their courses fully online for the remainder of this semester may proceednow. It is vitally important that changes of course delivery method are clearly communicated to students and that students understand the changes and expectations.

When conducting a rapid shift from face-to-face or in-person learning to online learning, be sure to communicate to students clearly and frequently; indicate all of the changes that will take place, including any modifications to expectations, grading, course schedule, due dates, assignments and formats or methods of conducting quizzes/exams, discussions and assignments. You will find it most effective during any transition to communicate this information in multiple places including email, course announcements and Brightspace/D2L (using the course changes section in the course shell that students see when they log into the course). More information on best practices can be found here.

In summary, we ask you to please start active preparation for transitioning to online course delivery. We have resources and people at MSU ready to assist you with the offering of lectures and discussions on-line, either synchronously within the scheduled class period, or asynchronously. Faculty are asked to be as flexible as possible in providing students the opportunity to demonstrate their accomplishment of learning outcomes through take-home examinations, on-line testing or other appropriate means. Most importantly, as changes are implemented, be pro-active with frequent communications to your students to ensure they understand their options and revised expectations.

By working together and taking advantage of university teaching resources, support and a variety of training opportunities, I am confident that we can provide students with the opportunity to complete their courses with minimal disruption while meeting the learning outcomes, competencies and knowledge requirements for each course.

With these steps, we will be ready to act when the time arrives to shift fully to remote delivery of instruction.

 

Sincerely,

Eric Austin
Faculty Senate Chair

and

Bob Mokwa
Executive Vice President and Provost
Montana State University

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Sent 3/10/2020 at 5:05pm

Office of the Provost

Dear Students,

 

I am writing to inform you of modifications to our protocols and practices for student class absences. These modifications align with guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control on how best to limit the spread of infectious diseases, especially with the current concern over the spread of Coronavirus / COVID-19.

Specifically, the CDC recommends that people stay at home if they feel sick, especially if they think they may have an infectious disease. However, the need to stay home may impact a student's class participation, which often has implications for their course grades. In order to avoid contagion of infectious diseases, it is critical that students feel that they can miss one class or a series of classes without penalty.

Beginning March 23 and extending to the end of Spring Semester, May 15, 2020, our campus protocols are as follows:

  • Students are encouraged to stay at home if they are sick, and most especially if they think they may have an infectious disease.  
  • Students who need to miss a class, or series of classes, due to illness or 14-day quarantine are responsible for emailing their course instructor to let them know of the need, as soon as possible. There is NO need for a medical excuse to be provided, at least initially. MSU University Health Partners will continue their policy of NOT providing students with medical excuse documentation as part of their commitment to maintain patient confidentiality.
  • Students are responsible for completing any work that they miss due to absence; including assignments, quizzes, tests and exams.
  • Students are responsible for communicating with their instructor(s) via the means established by the instructor(s); e.g., via D2L, email, text, etc.

Students who adhere to these processes will not be penalized.

I have ask that faculty make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for students who cannot come to class due to illness. Suggestions for reasonable accommodations include:  

  • Requesting that students who join via WebEx or who watch recorded lectures provide feedback through mandatory discussions, quizzes or essays on the material covered in order to receive credit for attendance and participation.
  • Providing make-up exams or tests might be administered through D2L. Guidance for online assessment and testing proctoring methods are available. More information will be provided in a separate communication.

The CDC recommendation applies equally to teaching assistants, who should also stay home if they are sick. Teaching assistants should work directly with their faculty to develop a plan for how to manage in the event that they should have to stay home due to illness.

Your patience and cooperation is greatly appreciated on this and the other many efforts that are rolling out campus-wide to prepare the campus for the possible spread of the Coronavirus / COVID-19.  

 

Sincerely,

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

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Sent 3/10/2020 at 11:58am

Office of the Provost

Dear Faculty,

 

I am writing to inform you of modifications to our protocols and practices for student class absences. These modifications align with guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control on how best to limit the spread of infectious diseases, especially with the current concern over the spread of Coronavirus / COVID-19.

Specifically, the CDC recommends that people stay at home if they feel sick, especially if they think they may have an infectious disease. However, the need to stay home may impact a student's class participation, which often has implications for their course grades. In order to avoid contagion of infectious diseases, it is critical that students feel that they can miss one class or a series of classes without penalty.

Beginning March 23 and extending to the end of Spring Semester, May 15, 2020, our campus protocols are as follows:

  • Students are encouraged to stay at home if they are sick, and most especially if they think they may have an infectious disease.
  • Students who need to miss a class, or series of classes, due to illness or 14-day quarantine are responsible for emailing their course instructor, to let them know of the need, as soon as possible. There is NO need for a medical excuse to be provided, at least initially. MSU University Health Partners will continue their policy of NOT providing students with medical excuse documentation as part of their commitment to maintain patient confidentiality.
  • Students are responsible for completing any work that they miss due to absence; including assignments, quizzes, tests and exams.
  • Students are responsible for communicating with their instructor(s) via the means established by the instructor(s); e.g., via D2L, email, text, etc.
  • Students who adhere to these processes should not be penalized per the attendance policy for the course.

Providing regular clear instructions to your students is critical during this time so they understand how you will communicate with them and your expectations of them. I ask that faculty make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for students who cannot come to class due to illness. Suggestions for reasonable accommodations include:

  • Providing students an opportunity to join a live lecture via WebEx and/or recording of lectures through WebEx or Techsmith Relay and making those recorded lectures available on D2L (which is a closed platform). Refer to online for support from Academic Technology and Outreach http://ato.montana.edu/technologies/ and the Center for Faculty Excellence http://www.montana.edu/facultyexcellence/teaching/resources/index.html
  • Requesting that students who join via WebEx or who watch recorded lectures provide feedback through mandatory discussions, quizzes or essays on the material covered in order to receive credit for attendance and participation.
  • Providing make-up exams or tests might be administered through D2L. Guidance for online assessment and testing proctoring methods are available. More information will be provided in a separate communication.

The CDC recommendation applies equally to teaching assistants, who should also stay home if they are sick. Please work directly with your TA(s) to develop a plan for how to manage in the event that they should have to stay home due to illness.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated on this and all the other many efforts that are rolling out campus-wide to prepare the campus for the possible spread of the Coronavirus / COVID-19. More information will be forthcoming about online and hybrid teaching options, and training to bolster our ability to continue teaching and learning while responding to a heightened need for minimizing the spread of disease.

 

Sincerely,

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

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Sent 3/9/2020 at 4:45pm

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

 

In an effort to manage and contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Montana State University is canceling all university-sponsored and affiliated international travel by students, faculty and staff, effective today and extending through spring break to Sunday, March 22.

Montana State University is making this decision based on the evolving situation with international quarantines as a measure to contain COVID-19. The university does not want to put our faculty, students and staff at risk of being stranded abroad or forced into a quarantine upon return. Many students may find their expectations of university-affiliated international travel come up far short as countries around the world are closing cultural and other sites of significance.

For all students, faculty and staff planning personal international travel over spring break, we urge caution. Travel restrictions and quarantine requirements can change daily. The best, most up-to-date information about travel is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Information for Travel website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

If you choose to travel and return from a country with a recommended self-quarantine - countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC: currently China, Iran, Italy and South Korea - please do not return to campus, either to the residence halls, classes, offices, fitness center or any other area. This means we are asking students to self-quarantine and return home for 14 days, rather than coming to campus.

Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance on self-quarantine, which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html

Those students who currently live on campus in MSU residence halls have the option of staying in their rooms over spring break at no additional cost, however, they must register. These accommodations are for residents only, visitors and/or overnight guests are not allowed in the residence halls during Spring Break. Montana State University will continue to keep its dining, recreation and health facilities open during this time.

We will continue to provide updates via email as well as its COVID-19 page, which also has an archive of all university communications on the issue.

We know that this news can create frustration for many people. This is the time for us to work collaboratively and to keep our focus and our hopes high. This too shall pass.

We greatly appreciate your understanding and cooperation to keep each other safe during this eventful time.


Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 3/6/2020 at 3:00pm

University Communications

Dear MSU Community,

With Spring Break nearly upon us, March 14-22, we recognize that the rapidly evolving situation with the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be raising questions and concerns. We are writing to you to provide some guidance on any upcoming travel and to remind you how to best care for yourself and your community by minimizing the spread of respiratory illnesses. We update MSU's COVID-19 website frequently, so please check there for the latest information and links to other MSU units who are providing advice (especially the Office of International Programs and MSU's International Travel Clinic).

Travel restrictions

All MSU and Montana University System sponsored or affiliated travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea is cancelled until further notice.

All MSU and Montana University System sponsored or affiliated travel to countries or areas with a Level 2 Travel Advisory or higher (from either the U.S. State Department or the CDC) is being evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

If you are planning such travel between now and the end of the summer, please contact the faculty member, staff member or unit you arranged your travel through as soon as possible.

Please keep in mind that due to the fast-changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, travel restrictions may be imposed or lifted at any time, for any area or country.

Please carefully weigh the risks and benefits of any international travel and refer to this site frequently for updates as well as the CDC's COVID-19 travel page and the Department of State's Travel Advisory website.

Post-Travel Guidance

If you are returning from a country with a sustained COVID-19 outbreak, or come in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 and you develop symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please:

Call your health provider in advance. Do not come to MSU University Health Partners, an urgent care, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital Emergency Room or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic while you are being evaluated.

  • Students should contact MSU University Health Partners at (406) 994-2311, or their usual provider in Gallatin County if they are seen locally but not at UHP. After business hours, this number will provide advice and guidance regarding COVID-19.
  • Faculty, other academic personnel and staff should contact their usual primary care provider or Bozeman Health ER for advice on how to proceed.

Please note: If you are returning from China, Iran, South Korea, or Italy, please check in with the Gallatin City-County Health Department (GCCHD), and plan to stay home for 14 days.

Limiting the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19

At the time of this message, there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 at MSU, in Bozeman, or in the state of Montana. We are working closely with GCCHD, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the CDC to remain informed of current conditions and concerns.

Like other respiratory infections such as influenza and common colds, you may be able to reduce the risk of becoming infected or spreading viral illnesses including COVID-19 by:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Finding more information

The information about COVID-19 is changing daily. While the information in this email is current as of today, we recommend you check MSU's COVID-19 webpage, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 webpage, and the CDC COVID-19 webpage for ongoing updates. Please remember that no one in the MSU community has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and there are currently no suspected cases in the state of Montana.

We encourage everyone in the MSU community to support each other through this period of public health uncertainty. As a group, we are stronger than any single individual. Help those in need and refuse to stigmatize anyone as a possible disease carrier because of the color of their skin or where they call home. Question rumors you may hear by checking with reputable sources such as the links above.

We will continue to update you as new information becomes available.

 

Yours in health,

Jim Mitchell, MBA
Senior Director, University Health Partners

Sam Mitchell, MD, Ph.D
Medical Services Director, University Health Partners

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Sent 3/5/2020 at 6:30pm

Bobcat Parent & Family Program

Dear Bobcat parent and family members,

This special edition message is part of Montana State University's ongoing effort to provide timely information to the emerging concerns related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

As I write this message, Thursday afternoon, March 5, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Montana, and the immediate assessment of health risk for our state remains low.

Out of an abundance of caution and taking guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Institutions of Higher Education (IHE), Montana State University has activated an Incident Management Team to address questions and to plan for potential contingencies on our campuses. This team is monitoring the situation in real time with updates from the CDC, World Health Organization, Gallatin City-County Health Department and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The team is posting important updates to our MSU COVID-19 webpage. I recommend bookmarking this page in your web-browser so that you always have access to the latest information about Montana State University's response to the COVID-19 virus. 

We continue to reinforce to students, faculty and staff that the CDC is the best source for information on prevention and treatment, the available science as well as situation updates and guidance for travel.

 If your student lets you know they are ill, please encourage them to stay away from class. Students should contact their professor directly via email to let them know they are sick and will be missing class.

Students with flu-like symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath, should call University Health Partners (UHP) at 406-994-2311 or a local health provider in advance. Local health providers including UHP are taking special measures to protect other people in their clinics while any potential COVID-19 patient is being evaluated.

We are doing our best to remind our campus community of how we can all help reduce the risk of an outbreak by following the preventative protocols related to other respiratory infections such as common-cold and influenza including:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing and
    Washing your hands frequently with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available. This is one of the most effective measures for stopping any infectious disease. The CDC has an entire webpage on hand washing as a preventive habit.

The COVID-19 situation is fluid and dynamic. And in President Cruzado's words, "We at Montana State University will remain calm and vigilant, while taking appropriate precautionary measures."

I'll be in touch next week before spring break with further updates and info on other pertinent topics that Dean Caires and I discussed communicating to you while he is away.

Sincerely,

Tony Campeau
Matt Caires
Registrar & Acting Dean of Students

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Sent 3/4/2020 at 4:22pm

Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to provide you with an update on the impact of the corona virus disease (COVID-19) to university-affiliated and -sponsored travel. Montana State University is closely monitoring COVID-19 news and travel restrictions in real-time with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and U.S. State Department, among others. Advisories and restrictions can change rapidly, and MSU remains vigilant. Montana State University, through our Office of International Programs (OIP), is monitoring MSU-affiliated travelers currently abroad. That includes travelers in some countries where the highest incidences of COVID-19 cases have been reported, namely Italy, Japan and South Korea. OIP is in communication with those MSU travelers and is helping them stay informed and safe. Similar to most U.S. universities, MSU students are participating in a variety of international study abroad, student exchange and faculty-led programs. The majority of countries that are hosting our students are under CDC Level 1 designation, which is comparable to the United States. OIP will continue to evaluate advisories and restrictions associated with all of our ongoing institutionally sponsored international programs as well as upcoming programs that include international travel. We have also received guidance from the Montana University System, which has banned university-affiliated and -sponsored travel systemwide to areas and countries under a Level 4 "do not travel" advisory, as designated by the State Department, such as China. Travel to places that are under Level 2 or 3 advisories must be reported to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for evaluation on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that any travel undertaken at this time poses a level of risk for exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, travel advisories and restrictions can change without warning. Countries open to travel this week may have different situations in the future. Potential travelers must weigh that risk individually, and we encourage you to use resources such as those linked above to inform yourselves. Montana State University is watching the COVID-19 situation closely, balancing the need for preparation with appropriate concern. Our information page about COVID-19 is available at montana.edu/coronavirus. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. 

 

Sincerely,

Robert Mokwa
Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs
Montana State University

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Sent 3/3/2020 at 10:30am

Office of the President

Dear MSU Community,

We at Montana State University are carefully tracking the development of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the United States and around the world. As I write this note, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Montana, and the immediate assessment of health risk for our state is low.

Out of an abundance of caution, Montana State University is activating an Incident Management Team to address questions and to plan for potential contingencies on our campus. This team, made up of representatives of more than 20 campus units, will monitor the situation in real time with updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Gallatin City-County Health Department and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

This team will post any important updates to our MSU COVID-19 webpage. We have added a new feature to this page, an online form for submitting questions about COVID-19 as it relates to our campus. Please note that the Centers for Disease Control is still the source for the best available science on the virus.

Once again, it is important to emphasize that there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Montana and, as of today, the CDC's current risk assessment is: "For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low."

As simple as it sounds, we know that we can all help keep that risk low by washing our hands. This is one of the most effective measures for stopping any infectious disease. The CDC has an entire webpage on hand washing as a preventive habit.

The COVID-19 situation is fluid and dynamic. We at Montana State University will remain calm and vigilant, while taking appropriate precautionary measures. We will continue to keep you informed and we urge you to reach out to us if you need additional information or assistance.


Sincerely,

Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University

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Sent 2/14/2020 at 1:30pm

University Communications

Dear MSU Community,

Earlier this week, the Gallatin City-County Health Department reported that an individual who had visited mainland China was hospitalized in Bozeman while they were tested for 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease recently named COVID-19.

Testing has since determined that this person does not have the virus.

Based on current information, public health officials in Gallatin County believe the current risk for exposure to the virus is very low.

MSU has been working closely with the Gallatin City-County Health Department and other health officials to monitor the spread of the virus. Information on the virus is available at http://www.montana.edu/health/coronavirus_2019-ncov.html.

To your health,

Jim Mitchell, MBA
Senior Director, University Health Partners

Sam Mitchell, MD, Ph.D
Medical Services Director, University Health Partners

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Sent 2/10/2020 at 4:26pm

University Communications

Dear MSU Community,

This afternoon, the Gallatin City-County Health Department reported an individual known to have visited mainland China is being evaluated at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital to determine if that individual has 2019 novel coronavirus. To be clear, at this time, it is unknown if the person -- who is unaffiliated with Montana State University -- has the coronavirus.

As a precautionary measure, the individual has been placed in isolation and is being evaluated in a manner recommended by current guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

Matt Kelley, health officer with Gallatin City-County Health Department, said this is not unexpected and that the community has many people traveling the world. He said that health officials have been preparing for this situation.

Kelly added that just because someone is not feeling well doesn't mean they have novel coronavirus, but health officials are using an abundance of caution so that risk is minimized. It is a time for vigilance and caution, he said.

While public health officials are taking all necessary precautions, it is worth noting that most people with a travel history to China who become ill do not have novel coronavirus. As of Monday, the CDC reports that roughly 330 people in the U.S. have been tested for novel coronavirus and only 12 have tested positive for the disease (less than 4% of those tested).

Based on current information, local public health officials in Gallatin County believe the person currently in isolation had limited exposure to the community, which reduces the risk to the public. At present, it is believed there is a very low risk to anyone in Gallatin County for exposure to novel coronavirus.

The university has been working closely with the City-County Health Department and other public health officials to monitor the virus. Information on the virus is available at http://www.montana.edu/health/coronavirus_2019-ncov.html.

 

To your health,

Jim Mitchell, MBA
Senior Director, University Health Partners

Sam Mitchell, MD, Ph.D
Medical Services Director, University Health Partners