Please note: As of May 14, 2021, the MSU Roadmap has been officially sunsetted. Please refer instead to the memo published by the Montana Commissioner of HIgher Education and President Cruzado's subsequent email to campus concerning the transition to normal operations for fall 2021.

Roadmap for Fall 2020

Updated May 21, 2021

Note: Updates to this page since its original publication are not included in the PDF download.

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At the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) quickly accelerated. The public health emergency was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Around the world, countries adopted preventive and adaptive measures, ranging from increased attention on the importance of hand washing to extensive measures such as shelter-in-place — all focused on flattening the curve of contagion.

In Montana, the Commissioner of Higher Education directed all campuses in the Montana University System to switch from in-person instruction and operations to remote delivery at the conclusion of spring break. Days later, Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a series of directives, including a stay-at-home order. Through these efforts and others by state and local government and health officials, Montana has maintained one of lowest counts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. By April 22, Governor Bullock was able to announce plans for a phased exit of the stay-at-home order, the “Reopening of the Big Sky” plan.   

Amid these circumstances, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education released “Montana University System Healthy Fall 2020: Planning Guidelines for Campuses,” which established guidelines for the state’s campuses to make their own plans for returning to in-person instruction and operations for fall and modifying their academic calendars to conclude before the traditional Thanksgiving break.

This report, “Montana State University’s Roadmap for Fall 2020,” follows the guidance from the commissioner’s office and establishes a plan for the fall academic semester at MSU, which, as previously announced, will run Monday, Aug. 17, through Wednesday, Nov. 25. The roadmap document is the culmination of complex, meticulous work conducted by the members of the MSU Reconstitution Committee, co-chaired by Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Robert Mokwa and Vice President for Administration and Finance Terry Leist. To all the committee members and to the countless individuals who were consulted as part of the process, as well as to those who prepared the document guided by Vice President of University Communications Tracy Ellig, we extend our sincere gratitude for their invaluable contributions.

The goal of “Montana State University’s Roadmap for Fall 2020” is to provide specific steps for reconstituting and restoring full operations at MSU. It is not guidance for “reopening” the university, as MSU was never closed. At every moment since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, there have been students as well faculty and staff working on our campus. Moreover, thanks to the opportunities and flexibility provided by teleworking arrangements, the functions of our offices and departments never ceased.

This roadmap document serves to focus our collective attention on specific actions and new routines we can all practice as we return to campus this summer and fall. Irrespective of college, department, office or unit, the report asks everyone who lives, works and sets foot on the MSU campus — students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — to participate in new, adaptive institutional practices aimed squarely at reducing the risk of infection for as many people as possible. Making the most of the guidance — and, in some cases, strong recommendations — in this report will require deliberate and collaborative work from us all.

Within this roadmap document are dozens of specific steps the university is taking, or preparing to take, inspired by the conviction that the safety and health of MSU community is our foremost priority. Now more than ever we are being called to demonstrate that Bobcats protect Bobcats, our neighbors and the communities we serve.

“Montana State University’s Roadmap to Fall 2020” is broad in nature. Given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, it is not the aim of the report to be all-encompassing nor to provide absolute and definitive guidance. No plan, policy, law or rule has ever anticipated every circumstance, let alone during a health crisis such as the world has confronted this year. That is one reason why we educate, so we can respond to the unanticipated both as individuals and as a society.

“Montana State University’s Roadmap to Fall 2020” is an important document that will prepare faculty, students, staff and friends for the upcoming fall semester. We urge you to read it carefully. If you have additional questions, comments or recommendations, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Each section of this report provides contact information of the individual best qualified to assist you with specific information, as well as the contact information of the MSU Executive Team and the Academic Council.

As we prepare for the fall 2020 semester at Montana State University, let’s help each other stay safe and healthy.

About MSU

As the state’s land-grant university, Montana State integrates education, creation of knowledge and art and service to communities.

With more than 16,500 students, Montana State University is the largest university in Montana and the state’s research leader. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies MSU as one of only 131 colleges and universities in the nation, out of more than 4,300, that maintain “very high research activity.” Because of its high undergraduate profile, MSU undergraduate students get opportunities to do research and creative work of national importance on a variety of topics, opportunities that would typically be reserved for graduate students at other universities. Working alongside world-class faculty mentors, students discover new knowledge, create art and serve communities in ways that help to improve the quality of life for people around the globe. The university offers baccalaureate degrees in 60 fields with many different options as well as certificates and associate degrees through Gallatin College MSU.

Montana State University’s thriving graduate programs offers 61 master’s degree options, 44 doctoral degree options, including one specialist program, and many certificate options. More than 300 on-campus laboratories, 44 centers and seven agricultural research center offer students endless research opportunities. MSU has a 96 percent placement rate for doctoral students and a 94 percent placement rate for master’s students.

University Reconstitution Committee

On April 23, 2020, MSU formed 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. Faculty were represented by Eric Austin, Professor, Department of Political Science, and Faculty Senate Chair, as well as Michael Brody, Associate Professor, Department of Education, Faculty Senate Chair-Elect. The URC served as an advisory committee to President Waded Cruzado.  

The URC had seven members who each directed a working group addressing an area of strategic importance to MSU. 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, Interim Associate Vice President, Division of Student Success
  • 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

Academic Continuity of Operations Task Force

  • Tami Eitle, Vice Provost, Office of the Provost
  • Steve Swinford, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology
  • Beth Burroughs, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
  • Heidi Fredenberg, Budget and Fiscal Manager, University Budget Office
  • Christina Fastnow, Vice President, Office of Planning and Analysis
  • Kim Obbink, Executive Director, Academic Technology & Outreach
  • David Singel, Senior Vice Provost, Office of the Provost
  • Tony Campeau, Interim Associate Vice President, Division of Student Success
  • Dean Adams, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Faculty Excellence
  • Julie Heard, Executive Assistant, Office of the Provost


Auxiliary Services


Human Resources

Student Success

University Services

  • Dan Stevenson, Associate Vice President of University Services
  • EJ Hook, Director of Facilities Services
  • Megan Sterl, Engineering & Utilities Manager, Facilities Services
  • Chris Catlett, Director, Safety and Risk Management
  • John How, Director, Campus Planning Design and Construction
  • Patti Yasbek, Budget Manager, University Services
  • Kerry Evans, Human Resources Business Partner, Office of Human Resources

Additional input and review was provided by President’s Executive Team and Academic Council.

President’s Executive Team

Academic Council

Campus-wide guidance applicable to all sections

Symptoms of COVID-19 and self-monitoring

Student, faculty and staff familiarity with the symptoms of COVID-19 will be key to reducing the risk of the virus spreading this fall. We urge all members of the university to be familiar with the symptoms described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and to self-monitor on a daily basis. The known symptoms are listed in Appendix G.

Students, faculty and staff who have symptoms are to:

  • Immediately contact their health care provider. In the case of students this will usually be MSU Student Health Partners, located in the Swingle Building on campus.
  • Students are to stay home from classes. Students are to contact their faculty for accommodations. For more detail see Academic Affairs.
  • Faculty and staff are to immediately notify their supervisor and stay home from work. For more details, see Human Resources.

In addition, MSU strongly encourages every member of our campus community to assess themselves for symptoms and to personally check their temperature every day before coming to campus. Individuals should not come to work and should contact their health care provider if they have a fever or elevated temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.

Cloth face masks and face coverings

As of May 14, 2021, per a directive from the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, face masks are no longer required at Montana State University. Text has been removed from the following section to reflect that change.

Cloth face masks are one of the tools the campus community can use to help slow the spread of the virus. Since people can carry and spread the virus without having symptoms, or with very mild symptoms, wearing a cloth face mask helps protect those around you, and the community at large, by reducing the risk of virus spread. While a cloth face mask may not protect the wearer, it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others, according to the CDC as droplets from sneezes, coughs and even talking can spread the virus as much as 6 feet. 

Appendix D of this report provides links to the CDC’s guidance on cloth face masks and face coverings, as well as MSU resources for posters on face mask use.

Social distancing of 6 feet

All areas of the campus will observe, to the extent practicable, the CDC guidance on maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals. This is an important tool in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The CDC’s comprehensive guidance on social distancing and its benefits in reducing the spread of the virus can be found in Appendix F of this report where readers can also find a link to MSU’s extensive library of social distancing posters available for download and social media materials for use.

Hand washing

Another critical tool in reducing the spread of the virus is frequent handwashing. Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer extensively. The federal guidance on hand washing can be found in Appendix E of this document.

MSU Clean ‘Cat Kit: personal sanitization for all students, faculty and staff

In order to assist faculty, students and staff, MSU will implement the Clean ‘Cat Kit for the fall semester 2020. The MSU Clean ‘Cat Kit is a personal sanitization program that empowers the campus community to take personal action to protect themselves. These personal kits will be used by recipients to sanitize areas they use during the day, such as podiums, desks and seats in classrooms, meeting rooms and collaboration spaces. To facilitate access to hand-sanitizer gel and disinfectant spray, campus hand-sanitizer refill stations will be deployed throughout campus. This approach provides constant access to cleaning materials for those on campus daily and reduces queuing, crowding and touch-transmissions issues.

Each MSU faculty, student and staff will receive a MSU Clean ‘Cat Kit upon their arrival for the fall semester. We anticipate the kit will include:

  • 1 reusable disinfectant spritz bottle prefilled and labeled with use instructions.
  • 3 microfiber cloths to use with disinfectant on surfaces throughout the day.
  • 1 reusable gel hand sanitizer bottle prefilled.
  • Personal care and community safety information.
  • Carrying bag.
  • One cloth face mask.

Testing and contact tracing

The university will work to support the monitoring, testing and tracing efforts, as well as quarantine and isolation protocols advised by the Centers for Disease Control, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Gallatin City-County Health Department.


Due to the number of tests available, current national and regional guidance does not call for, or provide, testing for everyone with symptoms. As the number of available test kits and processing capacity expand, this guidance could be modified. Additionally, there are ongoing local and state efforts to expand testing as fall 2020 approaches. At this time, coordination for testing must occur through a health care provider, local urgent care facilities, or Bozeman Health. Some important resources include:

  • Student Health Partners: Students will be able to access testing through MSU Student Health Partners, located in the Swingle Building on campus.
  • Bozeman Health COVID-19 Hotline: The Bozeman Health COVID-19 Hotline can be reached at 406-414-2619. Hotline hours are weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Drive-Up COVID-19 Test Sites: Drive-up test sites are available for patients with an order from a provider. For drive-up testing, patients remain in the vehicles for a nasal swab that will be used to test for COVID-19. There are currently two drive-up test sites in Bozeman:
    • Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital (Lot G): Hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Bozeman Health Belgrade Clinic + UrgentCare: Hours are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Urgent Care:b2 Urgent Care on Main Street and Bozeman Health Belgrade Clinic Urgent Care are both open and able to care for assessing COVID-19 symptoms and other health concerns.

Contact tracing

The CDC provides guidance for COVID-19 contact tracing. Those guidelines are intended to provide state and local health departments flexibility to respond rapidly to changing local circumstances. Key concepts from the CDC that are being implemented and/or considered by university, local and state health officials include:

  • Trace and monitor contacts of infected people. Notify them of their exposure.
  • Support the quarantine of contacts. Help ensure the safe, sustainable and effective quarantine of contacts to prevent additional transmission.
  • Expand staffing resources. Contact tracing require that states, tribes, localities and territories establish large cadres of contact tracers.
  • Use digital tools. Adoption and evaluation of digital tools may expand reach and efficacy of contact tracers.

Wastewater monitoring

In collaboration with the city and county health department, MSU is leveraging faculty research expertise to monitor municipal wastewater for coronavirus levels in our community.

This collaboration between the city, county and MSU will be an important data point in holistic assessments and additional guidance this fall semester. To read more about the MSU wastewater monitoring, visit the following University Communications press release:

The Gallatin City-County Health Department publishes the results of that monitoring at:  

Academic Affairs

Contact: Dr. Tamela Eitle, Vice Provost

Montana State University’s mission of excellence in teaching and learning is delivered through 41 academic departments in 10 academic colleges: Agriculture; Arts & Architecture; Gallatin College MSU; Education, Health & Human Development; Honors; Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship; Letters & Science; Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering; Nursing; and the Graduate School.

Enhanced cleaning protocols

  • Additional sanitization supplies will be delivered to academic and other departments.
  • Classrooms, labs and other instructional spaces will be cleaned daily.
  • Door knobs and handles in classroom, labs and other instructional spaces will be cleaned daily.

Social distancing in the classroom

Federal and guidelines provide direction for MSU’s ongoing adaptation of spaces and scheduling to provide for social distancing in classrooms, computer rooms, instructional laboratories, studios, conference rooms and other public spaces in campus buildings used in academic activities.

While adhering to these guidelines, the university seeks to enjoy the customary, in-person educational experience to the fullest extent possible. However, given MSU’s existing classroom inventory, distancing guidelines significantly reduce conventional room capacities. Accordingly, MSU has worked to reconfigure existing space, recruit new space, redesign course delivery, and relocate and reschedule classes for the fall 2020 semester.

Seating capacities

Through detailed classroom audits, new maximum seating capacities for each instructional space have been established, consistent with social distancing, as well as fire and other safety codes.

Classroom furnishing are being rearranged in manners consistent with sound pedagogy to maximize the seating capacity, while allowing for social distancing. Seating diagrams showing proper seating configuration will be displayed in each classroom.

Specific practices for the proper use of spaces where students are engaged in experiential learning, such as instructional laboratories, studios, recreational facilities and music practice rooms are being developed by responsible faculty and staff for every course delivered in such special use spaces.

Additional spaces

Additional spaces in MSU’s Strand Union Building (SUB) have been allocated for temporary use as classrooms.

Lengthening the academic day

The academic day is being extended to make better use of classroom and alternative space redesigned for classroom use.

Foot traffic

Students and faculty will not enter a classroom until the previous occupants have exited. Where two doors to a classroom exist, one will be labeled as the entrance and the other as the exit.

Directional pathways that increase one-way traffic flow in buildings will be identified and posted.

Personal sanitization

Faculty will use their personal Clean ‘Cat Kits to sanitize the teaching technology and podiums or lecterns. Students will use their personal Clean ‘Cat Kits to sanitize their chairs and desks.

Students, faculty and staff will be provided with access to recommended public health practices at on-boarding orientations and at the MSU COVID-19 website.

Instruction and learning modalities

Montana State University offers courses in four basic modalities:

  • In-person – in which students and faculty work together in a scheduled instructional space.
  • Virtual – in which students and faculty work together synchronously though web-based communication technology.
  • Blended – in which in-person and some virtual or online elements are combined.
  • Online – in which interaction, learning and dialogue does not require any in-person meeting and are most often offered asynchronously to allow students to access learning at their convenience.

All four modes will be used for course delivery during the 2020 fall semester. Because of constraints on available physical space imposed by social distancing and the possibility of a higher-than-usual student preference for online classes, there will be more courses than usual that use virtual, blended or online delivery modes in the fall.

Priorities and principles for course design

With the goal of propelling student success in an academic experience marked by excellence, while reducing the risk to our students, faculty and staff, MSU has established several principles to guide departments and colleges in their decisions about the delivery mode employed in each course they offer.

  • In-person delivery is prioritized in the classes of first-year students in small enrollment classes, in a broad selection of CORE (general education) classes, and in capstone classes of upper division students.
  • Blended delivery is preferred for courses that feature collaborative, active learning among groups of students. Such collaborative activities can safely be done virtually, while blended, regular, in-person instruction builds community and a promotes common learning experience.
  • Blended delivery is also preferred in special use spaces, the in-person experience may be reserved for work that cannot be adapted to a virtual modality, while exercises that are more conducive to remote practice are shifted to virtual or online delivery.
  • In-person and blended delivery will be used for courses that are difficult to deliver in other modalities such as laboratories, field courses, studio courses and recitations.
  • Blended, virtual or online delivery will be used in large enrollment classes that lack suitable space, while distancing practices are in place.
  • Online sections will also be available for interested students in courses with multiple sections, the bulk of which will be offered in-person.
  • Online classes will also be used in upper division and graduate classes that lend themselves to effective delivery in the online mode.

Priorities for enhanced technology in classrooms

MSU Academic Technology and Outreach (ATO), University Information Technology (UIT), and the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) are working together to determine the best strategy for equipping more MSU classrooms with technology to support the teaching modalities discussed above. The following priorities have been identified to guide decisions about enhancing technology in classrooms:

  • Ensure all large classrooms are equipped the ability to support lecture capture.
  • Equip as many classrooms as possible with the ability to support some form of synchronous lecture delivery from the podium computer.
  • Install equipment that will be sustainable and usable beyond the current emergency.
  • Maintain a platform-agnostic system that supports the use of multiple conferencing tools.

Student remote learning spaces on campus

The diversity of student learning experiences will require students to move from in-person classes to online learning, to work virtually with their peers and professors, and to access academic advising and student success resources both remotely and in-person. While students may access Wi-Fi in campus buildings using their personal laptops and devices, they also often use terminals in computer labs, the MSU Library and other offices on campus.

With the variety of teaching planned for the fall semester, MSU anticipates greater demand for quiet spaces where students may engage in collaborative learning or virtual classes using headsets, embedded microphones and other technology. MSU is identifying new locations on campus where students may access MSU computers, use their own personal electronic devices, or use laptops or tablets on loan from the MSU Library.

Strategies to meet learning expectations

MSU will utilize a variety of strategies and pedagogies to deliver instruction that meets course learning outcomes, including:

  • Simulation experiences to create scenarios for students to practice technical, diagnostic, laboratory and exam skills.
  • Applied assignments that draw on scenarios and ask students to embrace and wrestle with real-life complexities.
  • Specialized plans for courses and instruction in which social distancing is not possible.
  • Expanded ability for recorded or synchronous presentations using WebEx to deliver course content.
  • Expanded options for exams/tests/quizzes and other assessments to be administered virtually using Brightspace or socially distanced using larger alternative locations.
  • Alternate class attendance schedules with one-third to one-half of students meeting virtually one day and attending in person on the following class day in alternating fashion to maintain social distancing.
  • Alternate instructional pedagogies including:
    • Distance education and virtual instruction
    • Flipped classrooms with synchronous presentations
  • A larger than normal quantity of fully online sections to meet the needs of students who do not wish to participate in in-person instruction.

Faculty guidelines for 2020 fall course preparations


Faculty will use the MSU-supported learning management system Brightspace (D2L) to post their course syllabi and will use the announcements tool as the primary means to communicate with students about the course. Faculty will organize and post course content such that it is informative and accessible for students whether they are participating in-person, virtually or online.

Hands-on/experiential pedagogies

Departments that require hands-on experiences for students are working with MSU Student Health Partners to identify methods to maintain these important education experiences for students:

  • Laboratories, simulations and studios may require additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and will implement processes to allow for reduction of risk in collaborative work and instruction.
  • Field courses will implement strategies to reduce risk for travel to field sites that may include taking multiple vehicles or requiring PPE.
  • Activities courses will follow the university’s social distancing guidelines for classroom/gym activities and outdoor courses.
  • The College of Arts & Architecture’s School of Music is taking into account the latest scientific and medical guidance and working with other universities to maintain the following activities for students:
    • The Wind Symphony, University Band, University Choir, Chorale and Montanans will rehearse in smaller groups, with spacing beyond the standard 6 feet and with additional time for cleaning and sanitizing between rehearsals.
    • The Symphony Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble will be meet in smaller groups — strings only for the orchestra — with appropriate social distancing.
    • The Spirit of the West Marching Band will rehearse and perform outdoors with appropriate social distancing.
    • Chamber music ensembles will meet with expanded social distancing, likely in alternative venues that will accommodate those space requirements.
    • Applied instruction in individual instruments and voice will take place in blended formats, with some instruction taking place remotely and some instruction in-person with appropriate social distancing.

Office hours

Instructional faculty will hold regular virtual office hours during the fall semester or, if preferred, may hold in-person office hours if they are able to do so in compliance with social distancing requirements.


The Center for Faculty Excellence will provide training and guidance on how to include social distancing and classroom hygiene language in syllabi. Faculty will include in the syllabus plans for how the semester will proceed if there is a transition to remote delivery and will be familiar with setting up virtual meetings via WebEx or Microsoft Teams, the two platforms supported by MSU. Faculty will also specify in their syllabus that students should communicate with their instructors regarding changes in their ability to complete coursework and academic responsibilities.

Student attendance and absences

The MSU Office of the Provost will develop guidelines to address attendance and excused absences that acknowledge and support students who become ill, without creating barriers or requiring unnecessary visits to MSU Student Health Partners or a personal physician for documentation of illness.

Switching to remote delivery

Every instructor should be ready to switch to remote delivery if required by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, local, state or federal authorities.

Faculty will ensure that students know how to access and use the tools and technologies that will allow for an easier transition to remote learning if necessary during the semester.

Academic Advising Services/Advising Commons

Contact: Diane Donnelly, Director

MSU Academic Advising Services/Advising Commons holds that advising is integral to the teaching and learning mission of MSU. In the one-on-one advising relationship, students are guided in the kind of systematic thinking, knowledge integration and decision-making they will need throughout their college careers.

For the 2020 summer and fall semesters, Advising Commons will observe the following guidelines:

  • Academic advisors will be available throughout the summer via phone, email and WebEx appointments for prospective, new freshmen, transfer and continuing students. Specific contact information is posted on the Advising Commons website, at campus advising centers, and with college deans’ offices.
  • Advising centers will be staffed with advisors rotating between on-campus and teleworking. Phone calls are recommended to schedule appointments.
  • Most advising areas will offer virtual prospective student/family sessions several times a week, in coordination with the MSU Office of Admissions.
  • All summer orientation sessions will be offered via distance methods. Each student will complete an orientation module in Brightspace (D2L) that incorporates information on their college, majors, degree requirements, etc.
  • Subsequent to participating in an orientation session, each student will have a WebEx appointment with their advisor to discuss the courses they are pre-registered to take, as well as other courses they can select and register for on CatCourse. While WebEx is the recommended communication method, phone appointments are also available if preferred by the student.
  • Starting in August, on-campus advising access will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Services will continue to be available both in-person and virtually throughout fall semester.
  • If an in-person meeting is necessary, advisors will use offices or alternative locations where social distancing can be maintained.
  • Contact information for specific advising areas will be posted on the Advising Commons webpage and on the main door of each advising office/center. Contact information will be updated regularly and shared with departments, dean’s offices, Admissions, Gaines Advising Center and the ASK US Desk.

Considerations for students

MSU students will be asked to evaluate their individual health status and refrain from attending class or other on-campus activities if they are sick. Students are encouraged to seek appropriate medical attention if they are not feeling well.

MSU students who are absent due to illness will be given opportunities to access course materials online. If a student wishes to seek reasonable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations, they should contact the university’s ADA Coordinator ([email protected]) to initiate a review.

Considerations for faculty

MSU Faculty will be asked to evaluate their individual health status and refrain from coming to campus and to seek appropriate medical attention if they are sick.

MSU faculty will be encouraged to teach in-person and to combine mixtures of modalities in their course structure. If faculty have concerns about their teaching assignment because of a medical condition that puts them at greater risk, they should contact their Human Resources Business Partner to discuss options. Faculty who have concerns about their work assignment for fall semester 2020 should request a review by their Human Resources Business Partner by June 30, 2020.

Face shields or face masks will be available for instructional faculty to wear in classrooms, labs and studios. These devices will be provided by the MSU Office of Safety and Risk Management upon request, coordinated through unit and department supervisors.

If a faculty wishes to seek reasonable ADA accommodations related to returning to the classroom, they should contact the university’s ADA Coordinator ([email protected]) to initiate a review. The MSU Office of Human Resources will work with instructional faculty and department heads to determine any appropriate accommodation(s).

MSU Library

The MSU Library will open to the public on June 29 with modified summer hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular academic hours will begin the first day of classes for the fall semester, August 17, 2020.

In preparation for the 2020 fall semester, the library will conduct a space analysis and develop a recommendation for the maximum number of people to be allowed in various zones in the building at any given time, in accordance with state and local directives.

Library staff will modify operating practices to the following:

  • Sanitize select high-use areas multiple times per day.
  • Strongly encourage staff working in the building to wear cloth face masks or face coverings when near other people.
  • Communicate healthy practices to be modeled by library patrons and staff in the building through messaging that will include posters, signs, table tents and spoken communication directly with people in the building.
  • Provide patrons with cleaning and sanitizing products, within the limit of available supplies, should they wish to clean areas prior to or after use.
  • Create a logging system by which patrons in the building can indicate the space they used and for what duration.
  • Select technical equipment will be unavailable for checkouts, including headphones and virtual reality equipment.
  • Open public spaces for solo study or groups no larger than three who maintain social distancing.
  • Group study rooms are only available for solo use to accommodate social distancing.
  • Hold meetings online or in-person and observing appropriate social distancing.
  • Have most staff work on-site, though some staff may continue a percentage of work off-site.
  • Avoid high-risk, high-volume programs and events.
  • Arrange furniture in open public areas to promote collaboration while observing social distancing.
  • Open classrooms according to MSU guidelines for appropriate classroom capacities.
  • Special Collections is open to public under revised reading room hours (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.) and days (Tuesday to Friday) or by appointment.
  • There will be a limited number of computers available for library patrons' use. The rest will remain turned off for social distancing and ease of sanitizing available equipment.
  • Printing services will be available.
  • The Virtual Discovery Space will be closed.

MSU international travel and international programs

Contact: Dr. Deborah Haynes, Vice Provost of Global Affairs and Dean of International Programs

The Office of International Programs (OIP) serves as Montana State University’s gateway by facilitating connections, programs and experiences that bring the world to Montana and Montana to the world.

OIP facilitates a variety of international experiences and opportunities for our students and faculty. Among them, OIP offers international student admissions and scholar services, student exchange programs, and faculty-led international programs, as well as faculty and staff international travel. For the spring 2021 semester, OIP will observe the following guidelines:

International student admissions and scholar services

MSU will welcome and assist returning international students who are continuing their MSU degrees and will accept new international students, provided they can obtain visas and complete travel arrangements to Bozeman.

Student exchange programs

MSU will not send students abroad for exchange programs in spring 2021; this includes all exchange agreements. Neither will MSU accept international exchange students who are participating in traditional one-to-one reciprocal exchange programs to MSU for spring 2021.

Faculty-led international programs

MSU will neither sponsor nor endorse any faculty-led abroad programs for spring semester 2021.

Faculty and staff international travel

Updated April 1, 2021 – Montana State University continues to have a moratorium on MSU-affiliated international travel. Travel guidelines will be re-evaluated by OCHE and the Regents at the Board of Regents meeting on May 26, 2021, and any changes to these guidelines will be communicated to the campus community.



Contact: Leon Costello, Director of Athletics

The Department of Athletics contributes to Montana State University’s land-grant mission through excellence in the classroom, competition and a holistic approach to student-athlete well-being. The department is committed to integrity, inclusion, respect and service, which fosters a lasting connection between the MSU community, the state of Montana and the Rocky Mountain region.

COVID-19 testing of student-athletes

Student-athletes with positive screening (according to Self-Monitoring, entrance screening and exit protocol of student-athletes) will be discussed with a medical provider and considered for testing. Clinicians should use their judgment to determine who has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient/student-athlete should be tested. The testing of symptomatic patients suspected of COVID-19 is critical to contain the spread of the virus.

Asymptomatic testing of individuals prior to elective medical procedures will occur, per the performing provider and applicable policies. At this time, the Athletics Department does not recommend testing asymptomatic Athletic Department employees or student-athletes for COVID-19 unless prior to an elective medical procedure.

Asymptomatic surveillance testing

The Athletics Department is considering the risks, benefits and organizational recommendations regarding surveillance testing of student-athletes. A separate protocol will be developed if the department elects to proceed with such a practice.

COVID-19 positive/patient under investigation, COVID-19 exposure

Student-athletes should self-quarantine and not participate in athletic activities if they meet any of the following three criteria:

  • They are laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-positive (symptomatic or asymptomatic).
  • They are a patient under investigation who does not require hospitalization (i.e., awaiting a test).
  • They are a patient suspected of having COVID-19 and are unable to be tested.

They may not return to activity until the following criteria are met:

  • At least 72 hours have passed since resolution of fever without antipyretics.
  • Respiratory symptoms have improved.
  • At least 14 days have passed since onset of symptoms.

Alternatively, Athletics may use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) test-based strategy (i.e., need for two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart) to determine return to activity and release from quarantine.

Cardiac evaluation

Student-athletes who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 by testing or are suspected of having had COVID-19 with or without confirmatory testing will be evaluated by the team physician.

The student-athlete will undergo cardiac evaluation prior to allowing activity.[1] This evaluation may include a combination of EKG, 24-hour Holter monitor, troponin testing, exercise stress test, trans-thoracic echocardiogram, cardiac MRI, and/or repeat COVID testing, by PCR or antibody testing, as clinically indicated and as related sports medicine clinical guidelines dictate.

Common areas, hydration, and nutrition station

The following is applicable during Phase 1 and 2 of the State of Montana’s reopening plan unless otherwise stated:

  • Commons areas will remain closed, except for locker rooms.
  • All tables, chairs and lounge furniture will be removed from the common area outside the nutrition station and from locker rooms.
  • The nutrition station will remain closed until further notice.
  • MSU student-athletes will not be provided food.
  • MSU student-athletes are not allowed to bring in outside food.
  • There will be no self-serve hydration. MSU Student-athletes may not drink directly from a drinking fountain or fill cups/water bottles themselves. This includes at the nutrition station, in locker rooms, training room, and the weight room.
  • MSU Student-athletes will hydrate with one-time-use cups provided by staff members.
  • MSU Student-athletes are not to fill cups themselves.
  • MSU Student-athletes are not allowed to use personal water bottles during Phase 1.

Disinfection of surfaces

The CDC recommends[2] cleaning contaminated surfaces with liquid products. Many products recommend keeping surfaces wet for a period – this time can vary based on the product. The Environmental Protection Agency does not recommend the use of fumigation or wide-area spraying to control COVID-19.[3] Fumigation and wide-area spraying are not appropriate tools for cleaning contaminated surfaces. When cleaning, use gloves.

Approved cleaning products and drying time that are on hand in the training room and weight room:

  • Bleach – dry time 1 minute[4]
  • Mueller Whizzer – dry time 10 minutes
  • Hillyard QT Plus– dry time 10 minutes
  • Bleach free Clorox broad spectrum quaternary cleaner – dry time 10 minutes
  • Lysol spray – dry time 10 minutes
  • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol – dry time 15 minutes (Alcohol should only be used if other surface disinfectants are not available.)

Confirm the appropriateness of a cleaning product prior to use by consulting

Entrance screening to Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and athletics facilities

A Bozeman Health provider or trained MSU athletic trainer (“the screener”) will perform screening upon entry to any MSU athletic facility. The screener will wear a mask, eye protection (safety glasses) and gloves.

All staff, visitors and student-athletes will enter through the south entrance of Brick Breeden Fieldhouse and await screening.

Screeners will take temperatures and ask:

  • “Do you have a new fever, cough or shortness of breath?”[5]
  • “Have you tested positive for COVID-19 or are you currently awaiting results of a test?”

Individuals will be allowed entry if they show no fever or symptoms and are not awaiting a test result.

A wrist band will be given to entering student-athletes and coded to indicate the day’s date. All student-athletes will sign in each day (Appendix C).

After being allowed entry, student-athletes must perform hand hygiene (Appendix E). They are then allowed use of all open Montana State University athletic facilities for that calendar day. This includes, but is not limited to, the locker rooms, weight room, training room and administrative offices.

If an athlete departs and returns to the facility in the same day, they do not need re-screening, provided they can present their wrist band for that day. They will, however, need to sign in each time they enter that day.

If a person shows a fever, cough or shortness of breath; is COVID-19-positive; or is awaiting test results, then they will be masked and directed to self-quarantine. The screener will immediately contact a Bozeman Health provider. That person will not be allowed entry. (Note: Individuals with a positive COVID-19 lab test more than 10 days prior and who have been fully recovered from symptomatic COVID-19 for at least 72 hours are allowed entry.)


All MSU staff, visitors, and student-athletes will exit through the South Entrance of Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. All student-athletes will sign out each time they leave the building (Appendix C).

Face mask or face covering

As of May 14, 2021, per a directive from the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, face masks are no longer required at Montana State University. Text has been removed from the following section to reflect that change.

Group games and use of shared objects/balls

This protocol is made in alignment with the NCAA Sports Science Institute Core Principles of Resocialization of Collegiate Sport.

  • No activities that require direct (e.g., hitting in football) or indirect (e.g., high jump pit, basketball) contact between athletes are allowed at this time. It is not only difficult to avoid contact, but there is also uncertainty about shared balls and virus transmission.
  • MSU Student-athletes can use objects/balls for individual drills but may not participate in group activities using shared objects/balls at this time. Examples of prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, passing a ball regardless of sport, pick-up games, shooting drills where someone else collects the ball other than the individual student-athlete, shared use of shotput/javelin/discus/hammer/baton, etc.
  • If a ball is being used, make sure only one player is using a specific region of the court and/or basket at a time, and the court in that region needs to be cleaned before another player uses it to prevent indirect transmission from ball to ground and vice versa.
  • Athletic equipment must be sanitized after use. For example, after an individual student-athlete finishes a shooting drill or setting drill, they must sanitize the basketball or volleyball, and the court must be sanitized.

Hand hygiene

MSU Student-athletes will perform the following hand hygiene[7]:

  • upon entering the building
  • before exiting the building
  • after using the rest room
  • before eating
  • after touching another student-athlete or another student-athlete's immediate environment
  • after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces. This includes one’s owns body fluids (such as coughing or sneezing into hands)
  • cough into their elbow rather than hands

Laundering and clothing

  • MSU Student-athletes are required to turn in their used workout clothing to the department’s laundry services for cleaning.
  • MSU Student-athletes are required to arrive in street clothes and change into workout clothing prior to working out. (If entering the facility for non-physical activity, such as a meeting or medical provider visit, student-athletes do not need to change.)
  • After working out, MSU student-athletes are required to proceed to their locker room, shower, change into street clothes, and place dirty athletic clothing into laundry.
  • MSU student-athlete clothing will be laundered as per usual protocol by MSU athletics staff.

Locker room use

Locker room use will be limited to changing clothes, bathing or showering, and rest room use. The maximum number of occupants at one time will be limited to 10 or 50, as directed by local authorities, as social distancing cannot be guaranteed in a locker room.

Other rules:

  • Locker room use will be limited to 10 minutes per group/athlete.
  • Six feet of distance will be encouraged in the showers if there are no dividers/curtains.
  • Athletes will use either wall mounted soap/shampoo or their own individual soap/shampoo. (Sharing of personal hygiene products is not allowed.)
  • All lounge furniture will be removed to reduce socializing.
  • All food and drink will be removed.

Self-monitoring, entrance screening and exit protocol of student-athletes

  • Self-monitoring and entrance screening are important aspects of early identification of COVID-19 infection and serves to minimize exposure to others. All student-athletes are advised to self-monitor daily. This includes taking one’s temperature, if the student-athlete has access to a thermometer at their residence. This can be documented on the Self-Monitoring Sheet (Appendix B).
  • If self-monitoring shows a fever (100.4 F or above), or any COVID-19 symptom, then the individual is to stay home and seek medical advice prior to coming onto campus.

Training room protocol

  • Student-athletes will be scheduled by athletic training, physical therapy and medical staff to minimize the number of individuals using the training room at a given time.
  • Utilization of athletic training and physical therapy services will be delivered as deemed appropriate by an athletic trainer, physical therapist or medical provider, on a case by case basis.
  • Hot and cold-water baths are prohibited unless directed by the head team physician.
  • Hot packs may be used, but the cloth sleeve must be laundered after each use.
  • Surfaces and objects will be cleaned at least once daily and after each use according to the disinfection protocol.
  • Athletic department staff and medical providers evaluating and treating student-athletes should wear a face mask at all times while in the training room/weight room.

Travel-related quarantine and essential/urgent medical care

The MSU Athletics Department will use, and augment, the State of Montana’s phased reconstitution plan (Appendix H) with regard to quarantine requirements.

Traveling within the U.S.

As of June 1, 2020, the MSU Athletics Department will adopt a mandatory 10-day quarantine period for those coming from outside of Montana but inside the United States.

Roommates/housemates of those required to quarantine will also be required to quarantine for 10 days, unless alternative housing can be arranged for the student-athlete requiring quarantine, prior to their arrival.

Traveling from outside the U.S.

On and after June 1, 2020, student-athletes coming from international locations will quarantine for 14 days, per Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Exceptions can be made to this policy for essential or urgent medical care. Examples of essential medical care include urgent medical visits that cannot be performed via telehealth or otherwise as deemed necessary for a medical provider.

Pre-participation exams for incoming student-athletes are not essential medical care. If a MSU student-athlete who needs a pre-participation exam requires quarantine, the majority of the visit can be completed by telehealth while the student-athlete is in quarantine. After quarantine, the student-athlete will be seen in person for physical exam, EKG, and sickle cell testing.

Vulnerable student-athletes

Vulnerable individuals are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality if they contract COVID-19.

During Phases 1 and 2 of the State of Montana’s reopening plan[8], it is recommended that all vulnerable individuals shelter in place. During Phase 3, vulnerable individuals can resume public interactions but should practice social distancing, minimizing exposure to social settings where distancing may not be practical, unless precautionary measures are observed.

Vulnerable individuals include those with serious underlying health conditions including:

  • Moderate to severe asthma requiring daily controller medication. Mild or exercise induced asthma are not included.
  • Heart disease including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease (such as COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Those whose immune systems are compromised, such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Severe obesity (BMI over 40)[9]

Vulnerable student-athletes may be identified at any time as clinically indicated by a provider.

Weight room/exercise protocol

This protocol uses recommendations from the NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel exercise recommendations.

  • MSU Student-athletes may use the weight room and exercise in or on MSU athletic facilities and fields only under direct supervision by strength training or athletic training staff.
  • Each work-out group will be overseen by an appropriate AED/CPR trained member of the MSU athletics staff as dictated by NCAA policy.
  • Only MSU student-athletes are allowed to use weight room facilities at this time.
  • If social distancing cannot be maintained, group size is limited according to below, as directed by local authorities.
    • Phase 1: Per State of Montana, groups of 10 maximum
    • Phase 2: Per State of Montana, groups of 50 maximum. However, MSU Athletics will have a maximum group size of 20. This is due to the logistics/staffing of screening and monitoring large groups and to decrease the potential exposure of an athlete who has the COVID-19 virus. This group size may enlarge over time as deemed safe and appropriate by medical and administrative staff.
  • MSU student-athletes will be divided into workout groups. Once the groups are established, student-athletes must remain in their groups while working out, both that day and for the future, until otherwise directed. This will help minimize exposure if there is a sick student-athlete in a group.
  • MSU Athletics department staff will create exercise protocols that can maintain social distancing.
    • This may require staggering used and unused equipment.
    • Activities that require spotting should be designed to minimize the number of spotters required (e.g., low weight, high repetition).
  • MSU Student-athletes and MSU Athletics Department staff will use a cloth face covering within the weight room or while participating in/overseeing MSU-university-sanctioned athletic activities per the Athletics face covering protocol above. Face coverings are not needed during activities that are compliant with social distancing.
  • If an MSU student-athlete refuses to wear a face covering, they will not be allowed to participate in MSU Athletics Department activities and will be asked to leave the premises.
  • All individuals are strongly encouraged to minimize physical contact. However, physical contact may occur, such as in spotting to prevent injury. If physical contact occurs hand hygiene must be performed.
  • Social distancing is encouraged during aerobic exercise (running, sprinting, etc.). MSU student-athletes should consider arranging themselves side by side rather than front to back at a distance of at least 5 yards.
  • Shared equipment should be sanitized with a disinfectant after each use by the user. This includes free weights, mats, kettlebells, medicine balls, stability balls, bars, etc. If shared equipment cannot be sanitized between use, it should not be used.

Dining halls

Contact: Thomas Stump, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services

Mitigating the risk of infection of our students, faculty and staff is of paramount importance. During the 2020 fall semester, Miller Dining Commons and Rendezvous Dining Pavilion will be open and will remain focused on providing a healthy and clean environment.

Dining facilities accommodations will include moves to “grab-and-go” formats, enhanced custodial services, scheduled deep cleans, points of control to monitor and enforce social distancing, appropriate seating configurations and directional signage. Consistent communication of adaptations and protocols will be provided through supporting marketing documents, including appropriate signage strategically placed throughout the dining venues.

Sanitization Adjustments

The normal sanitization program will be enhanced, and site-specific adjustments will be made to minimize the risk to our guests:

  • Self-service areas (salad bars, breakfast nooks, hot service lines) will be evaluated to determine how best to serve our guests.
  • Beverage areas (soda fountains, coffee stations, milk dispensers) will be reviewed and specific programming will be put in place.
  • Dispensing areas (condiments, silverware, napkins) will be assessed and alternative solutions will be developed.
  • Cashier, service and seating areas will be evaluated and adjusted accordingly to support social distancing guidelines.
  • Catering Services’ operations will be evaluated to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Guest-facing technology alternatives will be developed to meet the changing needs of our guests.
  • Custodial services will be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment for cleaning and disinfecting common, non-clinical spaces in general accordance with CDC guidelines.

Considerations for MSU Culinary Services customers and diners

As of May 14, 2021, per a directive from the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, face masks are no longer required at Montana State University. Text has been removed from the following section to reflect that change.

The number of diners in a single facility will be limited to achieve appropriate social distancing. Approaches to regulate the number of diners will include controlled entry and limiting mealtime length. After the facility’s capacity is reached, incoming diners will only be allowed entry after another leaves, and mealtimes of 30 minutes or less inside the dining halls will be encouraged.

Steps taken to maintain appropriate social distancing may also include:

  • Specifying entry and exit points and providing signs to direct foot traffic.
  • Socially spaced floor markers in queuing locations, such as outside the facility.
  • Adjusted spacing between tables and a limited number of chairs per table.
  • Eliminating buffet-style, self-serve food and beverage stations, replacing them with staff-served stations.
  • Providing optional grab-and-go offerings.
  • Arranging food delivery to students in isolation or quarantine.

Considerations for MSU Culinary Services staff

A COVID-19 Health Awareness Plan will be in place and followed by all staff members. Each site will be provided with a daily health screening questionnaire and checklist to ensure the health of the staff.

Employees will be required to follow infection prevention guidelines including:

  • Staying home when ill.
  • Practicing social distancing whenever possible at work.
  • Maintain good hygiene consistent with CDC guidelines.
  • Avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces throughout the workday.
  • Self-checking temperatures prior to leaving home for work.


Contact: Cody Stone, Executive Director of Extension

MSU Extension’s mission is to improve the lives of Montana citizens by providing unbiased, research-based education and information that integrates learning, discovery and engagement to strengthen the social, economic and environmental well-being of individuals, families and communities.

MSU Extension has county and reservation-based Extension agents and campus-based faculty and staff that serve the 56 counties and seven reservations across Montana.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, MSU Extension has continued to serve, educate and engage with individuals, groups and communities with programs and resources focused on agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and community and economic development.

Work plans

MSU Extension, in collaboration with MSU Human Resources, developed plans for gradually resuming staffing and operations focused on the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the public. Plans include considerations for social distancing measures, limiting the number of employees in common areas and keeping sick employees at home.

  • County and tribal Extension agents have developed work plans in consultation with their regional department head and in collaboration with county and tribal leadership.
  • Campus-based faculty and staff continue to work with Extension HR and their unit/department regarding work plans.
  • Nutrition educators have developed work plans in consultation with leadership of the MSU Extension Nutrition Education Program with consideration of local and tribal situations.

In-Person events and activities

MSU Extension meets the needs of the people and places of Montana through educational and engagement activities, partnerships and programs. These guidelines were developed to support MSU Extension faculty and staff regarding the planning and implementation of in-person events and activities. These guidelines will be updated as more information is available or with subsequent changes in reopening phases as outlined by the governor of Montana.

The health and safety of Extension faculty, staff, clientele and partners is the top priority. It is Extension’s responsibility to be vigilant to protect those it interacts with, especially members of vulnerable populations. Extension will follow the current state of Montana guidelines, and its events must also comply with county, tribal, and local government health directives.

The following guidelines are based on Montana’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines, which went into effect June 1, 2020, and will remain in effect until changed by the state. Faculty and staff should make decisions utilizing these guidelines. In doing so, those decisions will be supported by MSU Extension administration.

  • MSU Extension events or gatherings of groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate social distancing should not be held. It is recommended to continue social distancing in gatherings of any size. For planning of events with more than 50 people, consult with local public health offices on a plan to implement adequate distancing.
  • Consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, event capacity is at the discretion of community leadership based on current circumstances in the community.

For future events:

  • Consult with direct supervisors and/or program leaders.
  • Postpone decisions as long as possible, while still allowing for adequate planning.
  • Consider alternatives such as postponement or remote delivery.
  • If a decision needs to be made, do so based on the current guidelines in place at the time of the decision.

In-state work-related travel

As outlined by the governor’s Phase 2 guidelines, employers should minimize non-essential business travel.

In-state travel that is central to the mission of MSU Extension and cannot be managed through remote modalities may be deemed essential by MSU Extension. MSU Faculty and staff who believe they must travel for work which that is essential should submit a written request to their supervisor for approval explaining why the travel is necessary and cannot be accomplished remotely or in an alternative way.

Examples of essential MSU Extension in-state work travel:

  • Monitoring and data collection associated with field research.
  • Programs and outreach focused on the health, safety and economic well-being of Montanans.
  • Support of in-person 4-H components of a county fair.

If work travel is approved, faculty and staff should:

  • Take their temperature before traveling.
  • Maintain social distance from others while traveling and working.
  • Continue good hygiene practices including washing hands frequently and sneezing and/or coughing into a tissue or the elbow.
  • Do not report to work or travel if they are feeling sick or have an elevated temperature

While traveling, cloth face coverings are required and should be worn in situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained.


Contact: Thomas Stump, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services

MSU’s housing mission, under Auxiliary Services, is to parallel the goals of the university by providing a safe learning environment and a comprehensive community experience to maximize the success of our students.

MSU Housing and Residence Life

Student residents arriving to campus are required to take necessary steps as determined by MSU, in consultation with state and local government and health officials, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This guidance will be provided to students and families prior to their arrival on campus.

Fall capacity

Living options within MSU’s 13 undergraduate residence halls for the fall 2020 semester will not be limited to single-occupancy configurations. In the vast majority of configurations, residence hall rooms will be limited to a maximum of two occupants. Campus residence hall capacity will be managed to reserve separate locations for quarantine and isolation housing as needed for residence life occupants. The university has no facilities to quarantine or isolate students who live off campus.

Given the self-contained physical structure of units at Family/Graduate Housing, occupancy is expected to be at normal levels.

Guidance for resident students

For the fall semester of 2020, additional requirements will be placed on residents. These include a Housing Contract Addendum that details how residents’ personal belongings will be handled should they be asked to vacate with little notice due to local health conditions, as well as requirements specified in Student Safety Plans, Public Health Guidelines, and Processes for Move-In and Move-Out that will be implemented.

MSU Student Safety Plans

All students living on campus will be encouraged to create a Student Safety Plan to be activated in the event of an emergency. For each student resident, elements of a safety plan will include answers to the following questions:

  • Where will the student individual shelter in the unlikely event that on-campus housing needs to close for health and safety reasons?
  • What transportation options exist for the student?
    • Does the student have access to a vehicle?
    • Does the student have a registered vehicle on campus?
    • Is the student dependent on public transportation?
  • How quickly can the student get to the designated location given the transportation options?
  • What is the student’s detailed emergency contact information?
Public Health Guidelines

The following sanitization, hygiene and social distancing requirements will be implemented in residence halls:

  • Hand sanitizing stations will be available at designated building entrances.
  • Dedicated entrances and exits with foot traffic guides will be identified and marked to provide a single point of entry.
  • Occupancy for dorm rooms will, in the vast majority of configurations, be limited to a maximum of two students per room.
  • Approved configurations for double occupancy room will maximize social distancing. No bunking of beds will be permitted.
  • Reduced capacity will be implemented in elevators with social distancing floor indicators and, where feasible, one elevator car designed for going up and another for going down.
  • Restricted use of building lounges, common areas and kitchens will be enforced.
  • Residence Life staff members will increase hall monitoring to promote social distancing expectations.
  • Enhanced awareness and programming will promote social, mental and academic well-being, as well as promotion of available services from the Division of Student Success, such as counseling and tutoring.
  • Directional indicators and appropriate signage will be installed in lounge rooms, restrooms and laundry rooms indicating occupancy limits and foot traffic patterns.
  • A Restricted Guest Policy will be in place and enforced for the duration of the fall semester.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting schedules will be expanded into the evening hours. This is in addition to enhanced cleaning of shared areas and bathroom spaces during the day and on the weekends.
Guidelines for Move-In/Move-Out

New guidelines will be established for welcoming MSU student residents to campus for the fall 2020 semester:

  • Move-in and -out days and times will be expanded to allow social distancing.
  • Cleaning of residence hall common spaces will be enhanced during move-in and move-out.
  • The number of support staff allowed in the residence hall will be limited.
  • Residence Life staff will wear cloth face masks.
  • Incoming residence students will select and honor a specific time slot for move-in.
  • Residence hall elevators will be designated for single-family use, per trip.
  • Directional traffic patterns will be designated and marked in stairwells and hallways.
  • Communication templates and forms will be distributed outlining plans and resources, in case a sudden move out is required.

COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Housing

MSU will identify facilities for the temporary housing and care of MSU students living in the residence halls who cannot travel back home or to an off-site respite location but must be quarantined or isolated. This includes spaces for quarantining MSU residence hall students who may have been exposed and may be infected with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, as well as for isolating MSU residence hall students who are symptomatic, awaiting medical test results, or with probable or confirmed infection of COVID-19.

MSU’s COVID-19 response plan includes processes to identify residence hall residents who appear to have symptoms (such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath) and provide them with isolation housing until they can get a test confirmation. This is an important and effective strategy to mitigate further spread of the virus.

Human Resources

Contact: Jeannette Grey-Gilbert, Chief Human Resources Officer

The MSU Office of Human Resources projects pride and enthusiasm in support of Montana State University’s mission and strategic plan by providing leadership, guidance and administration of classification, recruitment, payroll and employee/labor relations in a professional and dedicated manner.

Employee guidance

Alternating days

In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those present on campus, departments should schedule partial staffing on alternating days. Such schedules will facilitate social distancing, especially in areas with large, common workspaces.

Building use

Occupants are expected to follow signs in buildings regarding traffic flow, building entrances, exits, elevator usage and similar common use areas.

Visitors and guests should be limited to those who are directly related to an individual’s or unit’s work.


Use of elevators by multiple individuals will be limited to avoid close proximity with others in a confined space. Elevator riders are must wear a face mask or face covering regardless of whether they are traveling alone or with others. Employees should also avoid touching the elevator buttons with exposed hands/fingers and should wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers after touching any surface.


Before and after eating, employees are strongly encouraged to wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the potential transmission of infectious diseases. When eating in campus dining facilities, employees must wear a mask or face covering until ready to eat and then replace the face covering afterward, as well as avoid sitting facing one another while eating. Employees are encouraged to take food back to their office area or eat outside, if reasonable. Employees eating in their work environment (break room, office, etc.) must maintain social distancing. Employees must wipe all surfaces, including tables, refrigerator handles, coffee machines, etc. after use in common areas.


Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Where feasible, meetings should be held in whole or part using the extensive range of available collaboration tools (e.g. WebEx, Microsoft Teams, telephone). In-person meetings are limited by the restrictions set in local, state and federal orders, and employees shall maintain social distancing. All attendees must wear a cloth mask or face covering while sharing space in a common room. Employees, whether on-site or remote, are encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors as needed electronically rather than in-person.

Mental and emotional wellbeing

All employees can utilize the Employee Assistance Program, which provides a wide range of services including 24-hour crisis help, in-person counseling as well as access to online consultations with licensed counselors. 

Office environments

  • MSU employees working in an open environment should maintain social distance from co-workers.
  • Departments should assess open work environments and meeting rooms to institute measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees, other coworkers and visitors.
  • MSU employees should avoid using anyone else’s personal protective equipment, phones, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, workstations, offices, or other personal work tools and equipment.
  • In situations where work tools must be shared, employees will take precautions to sanitize tools between use, as well as wash their hands before and after use.
  • In areas where hoteling workspace is in use, cleaning supplies will be made available by the individual unit. MSU employees are expected to wipe down a hoteling workspace prior to and after using it.

Public health habits while at work

MSU employees should:


The number of individuals in restrooms will be limited based on the size of the restroom to ensure social distancing. MSU employees are expected to wash their hands thoroughly afterward to reduce the potential transmission of the virus.

Staggered reporting/departing

The beginning and end of the workday typically brings many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements.

Guidance for MSU supervisors

MSU supervisors may ask employees who report feeling ill at work, or who call in sick, if they have any COVID-19 symptoms so that the supervisor can determine whether the employee must stay home. The supervisor’s discussion about the employee’s health should be limited to asking only about COVID-19 symptoms.

MSU supervisors should regularly remind employees reporting to work on campus that should stay home if they are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms. If an employee does report to work and is exhibiting symptoms, supervisors may require employees to leave the workplace. Supervisors can guide employees by explaining when they can appropriately use sick leave. Supervisors should work with Human Resources to prepare for any employees returning from leave or needing an accommodation.

MSU supervisors may not mandate that an employee stay away from work because the employee disclosed, or the supervisor is aware of, a medical condition unrelated to COVID-19. Supervisors shall not inquire about underlying medical conditions. Inquiries about reasonable accommodations should be directed to MSU’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator at [email protected].

Montana State University acknowledges that it is a community of individuals with different abilities and circumstances. If an employee who has been instructed to return to work on site has concerns about doing so due to a medical condition or other factors that place them at a higher risk from COVID-19, or if individuals wish to seek ADA reasonable accommodations related to returning to the workplace, they should contact their HR business partner or the university’s ADA coordinator to initiate a review by HR, which will work with them to determine appropriate accommodation(s).


International travel

Updated April 1, 2021 – Montana State University continues to have a moratorium on MSU-affiliated international travel. Travel guidelines will be re-evaluated by OCHE and the Regents at the Board of Regents meeting on May 26 and any changes to these guidelines will be communicated to the campus community.

In-state work-related travel

In-state travel that is central to the mission of MSU and cannot be managed through remote modalities may be deemed essential by the university. Travel requests for essential purposes will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In-State travel that is central to the mission of Montana State University Extension and Montana Agricultural Experiment Station may be deemed essential by MSU.

MSU Faculty and staff who believe they must travel for work which that is essential should submit a written request to their supervisor for approval explaining why the travel is necessary and cannot be accomplished remotely or in an alternative way.

The supervisor will forward the written request with any additional input to the appropriate Vice President who oversees the unit. For example, travel requests related to academics should be advanced by the Dean to the Provost. Travel requests related to research should be advanced to the unit supervisor and then to the VPREDGE.

Domestic travel guidelines will be re-evaluated by May 3, 2021, and any changes to these guidelines will be communicated to the campus community.

Examples of essential MSU in-state work travel:

  • Monitoring and data collection associated with field research.
  • Programs and outreach focused on the health, safety and economic well-being of Montanans.

If work travel is approved, faculty and staff should:

  • Take their temperature before traveling.
  • Maintain social distance from others while traveling and working.
  • Continue good hygiene practices including washing hands frequently and sneezing and/or coughing into a tissue or the elbow.
  • Do not report to work or travel if they are feeling sick or have an elevated temperature

While traveling, cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged and should be worn in situations in which social distancing cannot be maintained.

Out-of-state work-related travel

The same guidance applies to out-of-state travel as described for in-state travel. However, travel to a state that requires a 14-day quarantine upon entry is prohibited. Additionally, faculty and staff should be aware the conditions could change at any time and they may be unable to leave a state or they may have to quarantine for 14 days upon reentry to Montana. As with in-state travel, faculty and staff should submit a written request to their supervisors for approval explaining why the travel is necessary and cannot be accomplished remotely or in an alternative way.


Contact: Jason Carter, Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Montana State University is the largest research and development entity in the state, and as part of its land-grant mission, the university is committed to embracing opportunity and groundbreaking research. Our faculty, staff and students are known nationally and internationally for discovering, applying, testing and sharing knowledge and creative works that expand understanding and positively impact lives and society.

Outside collaborators and sponsors

Virtual meetings/site visits

  • When possible, meet virtually for experimental planning/discussions, program updates, and grant/research related activities.

On-campus meetings/site visits

  • In person collaborations/site visits from people outside of the university should be deemed an essential part of a PI’s research efforts.
  • Researchers should seek permission requesting on campus visits, which will be reviewed by their department head.
  • Visitors will be held to the same health and safety guidelines set forth by MSU to protect themselves and their colleges while on campus, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
  • Any visitors with known contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or exhibiting any symptoms — including fever greater than 100 degrees; cough; shortness of breath, ect. — should not come to campus under any circumstances.


Shared lab spaces

Access and traffic flow

  • Discuss traffic flow and points of ingress/egress, label appropriately (e.g., floor markings, wall signs, one-way flow when possible).
  • Coordinate access and scheduling among all users when from multiple labs. Utilize shared calendars as well as whiteboards/magnet boards where a lab can be labeled as occupied or free.
  • Post a checklist for all to read prior to and when entering the lab with COVID-19 safety Guidance and any reminders about facility-specific rules.


  • Only do in the lab what needs to be done in the lab (“collect and leave”).
  • Consider working in teams or cohorts or designating ”experts” to run all experiments on one piece of equipment.
  • Determine space specific capacity (room, workstation, instrument). Clearly mark occupancy limits and the way to reserve or indicate usage.


  • Develop a schedule to sanitize door handles, common work surfaces, equipment, and workstations after each use and at regular intervals.
  • If possible, provide each user of the lab with his/her own “bench space” and/or computer to avoid communal use.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases

Laboratories must follow MSU guidelines in accordance with the below CDC recommendations for disinfecting facilities in the event that a laboratory member is confirmed to have COVID-19. The following are approved disinfection methods, and one of these two options will be determined in consultation with the principal investigator (PI), department head or director, MSU Office of Research Compliance (ORC), and MSU Safety & Risk Management (SRM) in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • Option 1: Seven-day shutdown of the laboratory. Entrance into the laboratory is prohibited during the seven-day period unless approved by ORC and SRM for short-term, emergency entrance with appropriate personal protective equipment. This option will be the default, unless a principal investigator (PI) has coordinated with ORC and SRM an acceptable plan for deep cleaning that will not harm equipment, experiments, and neighboring laboratories/spaces.
  • Option 2: Deep cleaning of the laboratory. Disinfection of porous items (lab notebooks, cardboard, etc.) sensitive equipment, reagents and experimental samples may be impacted by this option. If it is determined that SRM-approved deep clean methods could harm neighboring laboratories and spaces, this may not be an option.

Levels of research operations

MSU research activities will be conducted in accordance with levels of operation that will be determined based on a number of factors, including COVID-19 caseloads, guidance from national, state and local health officials, input from MSU administrative leadership, faculty and students, and others.

Level 0: Normal

  • Normal operations.

Level 1: Caution and preparation for modified operations

  • Maintain social/physical distancing (i.e., 6 foot distancing between individuals)and use of face coverings consistent with university guidelinesand CDC guidance.
  • Consider instituting rotations and/or split schedules for lab work, and allowable telework options, to reduce the number of individuals in the laboratory at any one time.
  • Maintain good hygiene practices consistent with CDC guidelines.
    • Frequent hand washing.
    • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Frequent disinfection of common areas and equipment.
  • Develop a written plan for conducting research under Level 2 research operations.
    • Level 2 research operations plans do not need to be formally submitted during Level 1. Researchers are encouraged to consult with their supervisor, staff and/or the Office of Research Compliance with questions.
    • A Level 2 research operations plan template is available as Appendix K.
  • Consider key laboratory functions or field work that must continue for research to survive a prolonged shutdown (e.g., cell lines, animal colonies, transgenic lines, equipment needing liquid nitrogen, etc.).
  • Consider mitigation plans to prevent loss of critical supplies, reagents and other materials.
  • Determine whether work can continue without certain shared resources being available on campus (i.e., mail services, fiscal shared services, janitorial work, routine pick-ups, etc.).
  • Consider working with UIT proactively to ensure access to data remotely.

Level 2: Modified operations with approved exceptions

  • A lab or field-work research slowdown or shutdown plan (or exemption from slowdown) must be submitted to the appropriate department head or director and Office of Research Compliance within 24 hours of the announcement of Level 2.
    • A Level 2 research operations plan must designate no more than three lab members as essential staff, unless adequate justification can be provided.
    • The Level 2 research operations plan must outline the following procedures:
      • Rotations and/or split schedules of lab work, and allowable telework options, to reduce the number of individuals in the laboratory at any one time.
      • Use of face coverings consistent with university guidelines and CDC guidance.
      • Hygiene practices consistent with CDC guidelines.
  • Essential experiments allowed under guidance of an approved plan14 are those that, if discontinued, would generate significant financial or data loss.
  • All research buildings will be locked and should only be accessed by the principal investigator and lab members designated as essential staff. Do not prop open any doors or allow anyone that is non-essential to piggyback in.
  • Maintenance and access of key shared resources continue under appropriate guidelines and approved plans (i.e., animals, plants, cell lines, liquid nitrogen, etc.)

Level 3: Mandatory shutdown with VPREDGE-approved exceptions

  • Under a Level 3, there will be a mandatory laboratory and field-work shutdown for all research labs, unless designated by the Office of Research Compliance and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Graduate Education.
  • No new experiments, unless approved by Office of Research Compliance.
  • Initiate the Outbreak Response Operations for the Animal Resources Center ABSL1 and ABSL2, Jutila Research Laboratory ABSL3, and the Johnson Family Livestock Facility ABSL2. For additional details for animal care, refer to ARC Human Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan that was distributed on Feb 28, 2020.

Level 4: Mandatory shutdown with presidential-approved exceptions

  • Under a Level 4, there will be a mandatory laboratory and field-work shutdown for all research labs, unless designated by the MSU Office of Research Compliance, the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Graduate Education, and the MSU Office of the President.
  • Maintain and modify as needed the Outbreak Response Operations for the Animal Resources Center ABSL1 and ABSL2, Jutila Research Laboratory ABSL3, and the Johnson Family Livestock Facility ABSL2. For additional details, refer to ARC Human Infectious Disease Outbreak Response Plan that was distributed on Feb 28, 2020.

Field Research

In consultation with deans, department heads, and directors, VPREDGE issues the following guidelines for field research for Research Operations Level 2-4. Each research PI must outline their adoption of these guidelines, or suggested modifications, within their COVID Research Operations Appendix before engaging in any field research.

Prior to Travel

  • MSU Field crews should follow local, regional and federal guidelines for quarantines. Quarantines are not currently required following in-state field work but may be imposed if the PI believes warranted.
  • MSU PIs will provide appropriate face covering, disinfectants and other key supplies to field crew. The type of face coverings appropriate to the project will depend on local and national guidelines, the ability to maintain social distancing and other factors. While medical and N-95 masks are best at mitigating risk, these masks are in short supply due to health professional needs and should only be used as necessary. More often, CDC-recommended cloth face coverings should be used for field research. If the research is deemed “essential” per Research Operations guidelines, and social distancing is not possible, appropriate masks must be used for all investigators and participants during those research procedures.
  • Before departure, each MSU research team member must fill out the a medical screening form. If they answer yes to any of the questions, they should not participate in field research. The form must be signed by the PI and kept on file by the PI.
  • Before departure, the MSU field crew supervisor will provide a written contingency plan in case someone becomes symptomatic for COVID-19. This continency plan will be reviewed with all field researchers prior to departure. A copy of the plan should be given to each research team member, who should then sign to acknowledge the plan. Signed and dated copies must be retained by the PI. There can be no coercion to participate and sign. At minimum, those plans should include:
    • Identification of nearest clinic to the field location in case of emergency (including address, phone number and hours operation).
    • If different from above, identification of the nearest clinic to the field location that could perform a COVID-19 test (including address, phone number and hours operation). Preference should be given to a facility capable of performing COVID-19 testing.
    • A plan for if the clinic refuses to perform COVID-19 testing. This plan must include self-quarantine, informing the PI, and addition guidelines per health care professionals.
    • A plan to evacuate field crew in the event that individual(s) test positive for COVID-19.
    • Documentation of basic first aid supplies, including over-the-counter medications for fever (e.g., Tylenol, ibuprofen).
  • MSU PIs should be cognizant that not all individuals (including landowners and off-site research centers) will be comfortable with continuation of field work. PIs are encouraged to share their plans and mitigation strategies with applicable individuals and provide the opportunity for input and questions. PIs should not conduct field research with community members/groups who express that they are uncomfortable with the work.


  • The default guideline for Research Operations Levels 2-4 is to limit vehicle travel to driver only (no passengers). However, it is acknowledged that this may not be practical and/or may add risk (e.g., on long day trips that would benefit from rotational driving). Accordingly, PIs can pursue mitigation strategies (i.e., larger vehicles, wearing masks, proper disinfecting protocols, etc.).
  • Airline travel related to field research must conform with national, state, local and university travel guidelines.
  • Field research that requires boating must abide by social distancing guidelines and follow all other applicable field research guidelines. If social distancing cannot be maintained, PIs can pursue mitigation strategies (i.e., wearing masks, proper disinfecting protocols, etc.).


Every effort should be made to provide individual living arrangements for field researchers. Understanding this is not always possible, the following guidelines are provided for unique situations where individual living arrangements are not feasible.

  • Social distancing should be maintained during lodging, including sleeping arrangements, cooking, eating and social time. For short intervals when social distancing cannot be maintained, an appropriate face masks should be worn by all individuals.
  • Individuals must wash hands often. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover all sneezes and coughs with a tissue or with your shirt sleeve. Wear protective gloves (latex, nitrile, or rubber) whenever using furniture, cookware, equipment or vehicles shared among team members.
  • Regularly use disinfectant wipes on all surfaces used by multiple team members. As an alternative (when disinfectant wipes are not available), use a spray bottle with diluted 70% alcohol.

Additional guidelines specific to sleeping arrangements, cooking, and shared bathroom use include:

  • Sleeping: Everyone must have their own personal sleep space. For example, if sleeping in tents, the default should be that each individual sleep in their own tent (with exceptions documented via Research Operations Appendix document). In cases where teams must lodge in a hotel, outpost or other commercial/state/federal establishment, budget is not adequate justification to have people sleeping in the same room.
  • Cooking: When first entering the kitchen, wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Sanitize cooking surfaces (while wearing rubber or plastic gloves) as part of kitchen cleanup. Wash dishes in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Bathrooms: Take all personal items (towels, hand towels, shampoo/conditioner) with you to and from the bathroom, and leave them in your personal space. Do not leave them in common space (including bathroom or kitchen).

To further mitigate risk, PIs may consider temporarily instituting a “pod” concept for their research teams.

  • A “pod” is defined as a group of adults who have been living in the same household for the past month or more. To qualify, a pod will certify that they have been following social distancing rules for a minimum of 14 days prior to field research and will continue to follow social distancing rules during research and for 14-days after the field research.
  • For short-term research-related endeavors, members of the pod may be hired to work together. The application of the pod concept would be most warranted in situations where field research should not be conducted by only one MSU employee. This concept is particularly relevant for long-distance or overnight field research where there are safety concerns or logistical limitations of an employee working by themselves.
  • In cases where a pod would require hiring and/or supervision rules that impact current Conflict of Interest (COI) plans, including nepotism, investigators should work with amending COIs with the Office of Research Compliance and/or work with Human Resources to pursue temporary exception. Temporary exceptions should only be for short-term events (e.g., several days to a week for mission-critical events, with up to a few events during the summer of 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The justification for a nepotism exception would be that that benefits of this approach would be outweighed by the potential costs and risks of 1) failure to set up an experiment, 2) losing critical research data, or 3) decreasing the safety of an MSU researcher.

Conducting field research

  • To allow for epidemiological tracking in case a crew member becomes ill, crews will record the date, time, place of contact, name, and, where possible, contact information for any people they interact with during the field research (i.e., landowner, agency staff member, etc.).
  • Each day crew members must self-assess their health and record in a journal their morning and evening temperature, as well any potential symptoms of COVID-19. This journal must be made available upon request by the PI.
  • Shared field gear (nets, shovels, binoculars, etc.) must be disinfected according to CDC guidance before handing over to someone else.

MSU Office of Sponsored Programs

The MSU Office of Sponsored Programs, OSP, is available for COVID-19 grant-related questions. This includes consultation on allowable costs and extension related to COVID-19 disruptions, as well as new funding mechanisms related to COVID-19 research. An OSP fiscal manager is available to help determine specific policies, which can vary depending on federal agency.

MSU Office of Research Compliance

The MSU Office of Research Compliance is available for COVID-19 grant-related questions. This includes questions related to both animal and human subject research. The various governing boards for research integrity and compliance (i.e., Internal Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee) continue to meet virtually and review protocols and are available for COVID-19 questions and consultation.

Graduate Research

Graduate research continues under the oversight of faculty and is subject to general Research Operations guidelines. The MSU Graduate School has provided guidance that the requirement to be physically present for the thesis/dissertation defense can be waived. MSU Graduate students are encouraged to work with their advisor to discuss options and to contact the Graduate School with any questions or concerns.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research continues under the oversight of faculty and is subject to general Research Operations guidelines.

Student Affairs

Contact: Chris Kearns, Vice President for Student Success

The MSU Division of Student Success encompasses every facet of the student experience. Its mission is to enhance the learning environment of Montana State University; support students in the attainment of their educational objectives; foster in students a sense of responsibility, self-directness, community, and a positive identity with Montana State University.

ASMSU student government

Associated Students of MSU Student Senate meetings (ASMSU) will be hosted on WebEx on Thursdays at 6 p.m. beginning in the fall semester. Public comment will be taken at the start of each meeting. Meeting minutes will be available online. Virtual opportunities to engage in student governance (dialogues, focus groups and listening sessions) will be hosted monthly.

ASMSU Legal Services

Attorneys are available to advise MSU students on student legal issues virtually by scheduling online at

ASMSU Recreational Sports and Fitness

Contact: Steve Erickson, Director

ASMSU Recreational Sports and Fitness encourages personal physical, mental and social development, enhances academic productivity and enriches wellness for students and the MSU community.

As of June 1, 2020, the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center is open to the public with appropriate guidelines and protocols in place for the summer of 2020.

General operations of the Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center

  • Hours of operation are limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. The equipment room will be closed and there will not be any equipment checkout. The building will be closed on weekends.
  • Only faculty, staff, alumni and students with memberships or paid fees will be admitted. No day or week passes are available currently.
  • Occupancy is limited to 150 patrons at a time.
  • Patrons will be asked before entering whether they have any symptoms of COVID-19 and their temperature will be taken before entering the Fitness Center. Employees have been trained to recognize the symptoms, and patrons may be refused entry based on their answers to the screening questions or the results of their temperature.
  • The facility and equipment will be continuously cleaned while the fitness center is open, as well as after closing, concentrating on frequently touched areas. All Recreational Sports and Fitness employees will wear cloth masks while working and gloves when appropriate.

Fitness Center member responsibilities

  • Patrons are to check themselves for coronavirus symptoms: high fever, dry cough, trouble breathing, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell and sore throat. Sick patrons are not to come to the fitness center.
  • Patrons are asked to keep their workouts efficient to limit their time in the center as much as possible.
  • Patrons are asked to skip the locker rooms when possible and come dressed-out.
  • Patrons must wear a cloth mask or face covering when possible while in the fitness center.
  • Patrons should bring their own water. Drinking fountains are closed. Bottle fillers are open, but patrons are asked to only use them when necessary. Bottle fillers will be cleaned hourly.
  • Patrons must maintain 6-foot social distancing everywhere in the building, especially in the locker rooms. There are floor markings in areas such as near the free weights to help patrons be aware.
  • Patrons should clean their hands regularly. There are several hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility, and patrons are asked to use them often.
  • Patrons must wipe down the equipment with disposable wipes before and after use. Disposable wipe dispensers will be located around the workout areas. A dedicated staff member will monitor overall sanitation and assist with sanitizing and social distancing.
  • No congregating is allowed. Patrons are asked to work out and exit the building when finished. Patrons can use a spotter for safety, but no groups larger than two people.
  • Patrons should be considerate and vacate equipment when they are finished exercising, as many machines are closed, especially duplicate machines. Patrons should not text, read email, or make calls while seated on a machine.

Available features

  • Second-floor cardio and strength equipment, including free weights. Some machines are closed or moved for spacing requirements.
  • Locker rooms are open, but we strongly recommend patrons dress and shower at home to avoid overcrowding. Six-foot distancing will be maintained at all times in the locker rooms. Towel service is available for members with a locker who decide to shower in the facility.
  • The main lobby is open, but there is no seating or congregating. Patrons are asked to work out and exit the building as quickly as possible.

Features not yet open

  • Racquetball and squash courts
  • Functional training areas
  • North and South Domes
  • Fireplace Lounge
  • Saunas/Pool
  • Indoor running track

Personal training

  • Trainers will wear cloth masks and maintain social distancing during sessions.
  • Clients will be encouraged to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Trainers will assist patrons by wiping down all surfaces touched during the session.

Group Exercise (GX)

There will be no in-person group exercise in the center during this initial phase of opening. GX will continue via social media, and new GX videos are being uploaded daily.

MSU Intramural and Club Sports

For the 2020 fall semester, MSU will implement modifications to normal practices informed by guidance from national leagues and associations of club sports. Safety measures may include, but not be limited to:

  • Physical distancing during travel
  • Physical distancing protocols for visiting teams
  • Requiring club sports participants to share in the responsibility of cleaning equipment and facilities they use.

Intramural programming during fall semester 2020 will focus on individual skill-based games such as free throw shooting contests and outdoor run/walk programs. Team-based activities will focus on small group sessions with adequate spacing.

MSU Office of the Dean of Students

Contact: Matt Caires, MSU Dean of Students

The MSU Office of the Dean of Students works with individual students, student groups and other campus offices to ensure student success and adherence to community and academic standards. Our goal in working with students, faculty and staff is to foster a campus environment that is conducive to academic inquiry, productive campus life, and thoughtful study and discourse.

The Office of the Dean of Students’ reconstitution and outreach efforts during summer 2020 and fall semester 2020 will include:

  • Educating students, faculty and staff about accepted classroom and community norms and expectations.
  • Enforcing the MSU Code of Student Conduct when classroom and community norms and expectations are not followed.
  • Offering workshops for student leaders on how to further a campus culture of safety, respect and compliance.

The MSU Code of Student Conduct outlines the responsibilities of instructors and of students, including course expectations for classroom behavior. Students are required to follow expectations described in course syllabi for classroom behavior.

MSU Office of Disability Services

Contact: Mike McNeil, Director

The purpose of the MSU Office of Disability Services is to provide access to all college programs, services, activities and facilities for students with disabilities. This includes encouraging self-advocacy for students and connecting them with resources across campus to help them achieve their personal best.

For the 2020 fall semester, the following guidelines will be observed:

  • Appointments with incoming freshman will start remotely on Monday, July 6. This will allow students that are unable to travel to Bozeman the opportunity to arrange their accommodations earlier than they had in the past.
  • Appointments will be conducted using WebEx or phone.
  • In addition to the traditional accommodation notification process, an Electronic Accommodation Notification form has been created for students to verify their accommodations in a remote setting. Students should call the Disabilities Services office for more information at 406-994-2824.
  • Plexiglass panels will be installed in front office areas and extra cleaning protocols will be implemented..
  • The office will work with students to evaluate requests for temporary and permanent accommodations regarding COVID-19 or other pre-existing conditions.
  • The office will provide remote programing for orientation and MSU Fridays.

MSU Student events and activities

  • Annual campus events, traditions and other large-scale annual events will be modified to meet social distancing and group size guidelines; virtual resources and engagement opportunities will be provided.
  • The Program Activities and Campus Entertainment (PACE) board of student leaders will design and facilitate new programming that meets social distancing and group size guidelines.
  • The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) will host virtual events, social media engagement opportunities and asynchronous activities. The office will work on new ways for students to have social interaction and build communities. The office will support student organizations to redesign their traditional in-person student events.

MSU Student Health Partners

Contact: James Mitchell, Senior Director

Following an integrated, collaborative model, MSU Student Health Partners SHP) unites the components of the health and well-being for MSU students including prevention, health promotion, public health, medical services, dental services, and counseling and psychological services.

Medical Services

  • Require all MSU student patients to call ahead to schedule an appointment before coming to the SHP Medical Services for nursing or provider visits.
  • Screen all student patients and staff for respiratory symptoms and check temperature upon entering the clinic.
  • Update screening forms to include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, loss of ability to smell or taste, and any other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Develop processes to facilitate that student patients complete and submit forms (health history, immunizations, consents, etc.) in the patient portal or utilize a SHP template.
  • Continue to utilize telemedicine visits and provide students with options for telemedicine or telephone consultations when appropriate. In particular, students with conditions placing them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 should be encouraged to seek care via telemedicine.
  • Develop an online process for patient check-in.
  • Develop protocols for managing student patients with acute respiratory symptoms that include masking the patient, quickly rooming the patient, limiting and tracking the number of staff who enter the room, limiting the movement of the patient throughout the SHP Medical Services, and cleaning of spaces where the patient was present.
  • Avoid use of nebulizers and peak flow measurements which can generate additional aerosols.
  • Require all patients to wear face masks (or cloth face coverings if adequate face masks are not available).
  • Prohibit visitors, children or accompanying guests who are not receiving care or services from entering the facility.
  • Continue to transport student patients requiring a higher level of care to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.
  • Develop a communications plan outlining key messages such as how to access care and schedule appointments and which visits should be in person versus virtual.
  • Use a variety of platforms in communicating these messages, including websites, social media and signage. Involve as many campus entities as possible.

Dental Services

SHP Dental Services will follow relevant SHP Medical Services guidance, as well as guidance from the American Dental Association for safe operation of dental practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Mental health impact

All MSU students are affected by the pandemic and will experience a range of impacts on their mental health. Measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus have also led to experiences of anxiety, fear, grief and uncertainty. These emotional reactions are normal responses to an unexpected and scary situation. The effects of social distancing, loneliness, isolation, economic losses and grief will continue to take their toll on all of us. For those with previous histories of trauma or mental disorders, the pandemic could exacerbate symptoms or contribute to a new episode of a mental health disorder that had been stable. CPS remains committed to supporting the MSU community and will continue to provide counseling and outreach to students and consultation services to faculty and staff.

Although the number of case and loss of life has been less in Montana compared to other parts of the country and world, many students have been impacted by grief and loss. They are working to continue their education while cut off from their usual support systems, which may typically be an important part of the grieving process. Some students may be feeling unsafe as they fear or experience discrimination and/or bias incidents related to the pandemic. Many students are dealing with significant financial stressors, food insecurity, lack of housing and other economic stressors. Each of these may contribute to the need for more professional mental health support.

Clinical services transitioned to tele-mental health

CPS has moved all clinical services to tele-mental health. Students who contact CPS are connected with a counselor via telephone. During that appointment, the counselor conducts a brief assessment to ensure the student is appropriate for the tele-mental health modality and helps them get established for ongoing tele-mental health appointments with a CPS counselor. These sessions take place over a videoconferencing platform. Students complete necessary forms online in advance of the appointment through a secure web component.

State laws and regulations governing the practice of counseling, as well as licensure requirements that differ across all 50 states, create challenges to provide these services to students who are currently out of state. CPS has sought legal counsel on how to navigate this obstacle and a has developed a strategy to track each state’s laws and ensure counselors are practicing within the bounds of that state. Students residing outside of Montana are informed of this obstacle with their first contact at CPS, and depending on the student’s location, treatment options are discussed. CPS staff members work with the student to identify referral options within their current state of residence if state law does not allow for cross-state practice. Students are provided online resources, including access to the self-help app for MSU students as well as crisis resources.

While tele-mental health is an important option and has certainly helped many students during this time, it is also less than ideal for many. Students may struggle to have a stable internet connection, lack a private space in which they can share the most intimate and private details of their lives, or be in an unsafe environment. These challenges, and others, are important considerations as CPS considers future services and the role of telemental health as a service option.

CPS will continue to prioritize tele-mental health options for students seeking mental health services. Two senior staff clinicians will be on-site each day throughout the summer to respond to any walk-in or urgent situations. However, in those instances, the staff person will conduct a brief in-person assessment and consider scheduling the follow-up as a tele-mental health appointment. Crisis procedures have been considered and determined in collaboration with University Police as well as community partners.

Limiting number of people in CPS

The CPS space in the Swingle Health Center building has been operating above capacity for years. To address social distancing requirements, staff will stagger their schedule with only two senior staff members present each day through the summer. Students will be asked to call prior to entering CPS so staff can ensure there is space. Waiting room seating has been reduced to allow for social distancing.

CPS offices do not allow for social distancing, and not all the offices are well-ventilated. If a student must be seen in person, staff have identified one office that is large enough to accommodate an in-person visit.

As staff members return to campus, they will provide tele-mental health appointments from their campus offices, but many will telework from home to limit the numbers of people in Swingle. The CPS satellite offices at Culbertson Hall are larger and allow for social distancing. Students who can access services there and who are unable to engage in tele-mental health may work with a counselor in one of the Culbertson offices.

Meetings will be held via videoconferencing.

Protocol for in-person visits

MSU Students and staff will be discouraged from entering CPS if they exhibit any symptoms identified by the CDC. Hand hygiene will be encouraged with the addition of hand sanitizing stations throughout CPS.

Counseling often involves raised voices, crying and approximately one hour in an enclosed space, which increases the risk for transmitting the virus. To protect both students and staff, in-person visits will be discouraged unless there are no alternatives.

Sanitization operations and the frequency of surface cleanings will increase and include wiping of common area surfaces throughout the day, discontinuing client use of iPads to complete forms and increased custodial services.

Legal/ethical considerations

MSU Staff will continue to monitor state laws and options for practicing across state lines.

If a MSU staff member or client is diagnosed with COVID-19, CPS will amend its informed consent document and outline procedures for contact tracing, prior to the resumption of in-person services. MSU Legal Counsel will review the amended informed consent prior to implementation. All clients will be required to complete this informed consent prior to the onset of any in-person services.

MSU Students receiving tele-mental health will be asked to sign a specific tele-mental health informed consent, which identifies their emergency contact and when the counselor would break confidentiality to contact that person. Clients will confirm their physical location at the start of each tele-mental health appointment.

Group therapy and outreach

Group therapy and outreach will continue virtually. Specific connection spaces have been developed for students who are parents, American Indian students, graduate students and graduating seniors.

Outreach services will continue virtually with live programs as well as recorded videos that can be used in classes, with student groups, or on social media.

Office of Health Advancement

The role of health advancement in a healthy campus is multilayered and founded in a prevention framework. Assessment, environmental change strategies, social marketing, social norming, peer education training and health education programs are just a few components. Health advancement also houses alcohol and other drug (AOD) services including the collegiate recovery community, interpersonal violence (IPV) prevention, sexual health and STI resources, wellness coaching and nutrition and travel health services and the Bounty of the Bridgers Food Pantry.

General program delivery

Due to restrictions placed on in-person events based on local and state public health conditions and requirements, health advancement will develop a range of delivery methods.

Many health education programs and trainings are easily transferable to a virtual environment; however, for some programs, there is no replacement for in-person, hands-on interaction. Placing content online could allow capacity for more frequent but smaller peer trainings or programs that are not conducive to the virtual setting.

Health advancement offerings carry various levels of risk based on the size, physical proximity of participants, nature of the activity and vulnerability of the population. OHA will consult with campus or public health partners to develop a risk assessment and plan for various types of activities. In general:

  • Programs will be limited to 10 attendees.
  • Each program will begin with a brief instructional session reviewing hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, symptoms of COVID-19 and staying home when sick.
  • Program attendees should continue appropriate social distancing and use face coverings during these onsite programs.
  • Health Advancement will work to educate students, faculty and staff on the importance of self-care and self-monitoring at the beginning of each day, encouraging all to stay home if there is any question of exposure or illness.
Bounty of the Bridgers

Bounty of the Bridgers food pantry will continue to follow the same protocol as the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. Individual appointments will be made to obtain resources with minimal personal contact. Food handling will be kept to a minimum and following proper food safety protocol. Monetary donations instead of food donations will be encouraged for those wishing to support the pantry.

Crash Pad

The Crash Pad housing for students in crisis has been reduced to maintain distancing efforts. Each available room will accommodate an individual student. Each case will be evaluated by the program manager for Crash Pad as well as the Dean of Students Office and housing personnel.

Other programs

Individual visits for nutrition evaluations and counseling, AOD consultations, wellness coaching and travel health sessions, along with sexual health education will be performed via telehealth until social distancing restrictions are relaxed for the campus and local community.

Case-by-case decisions on in-person interactions with students requesting interpersonal violence assistance or other sensitive discussions must weigh the needs of the student against the potential health impact on the staff. Any staff member with direct student encounters will be provided appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and practice social distancing. Physical space will be disinfected with the necessary cleaning solutions provided through Facilities Services on campus. Additionally, all staff will wear PPE while in common areas of the office. Departmental meetings will be held remotely through WebEx as needed unless social distancing measures can be observed.

Collaboration on communications

Health Advancement will collaborate with Medical Services and Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as the broader campus leadership and specialists, including University Communications, to plan and implement communications and marketing efforts.


Appendix A: MUS Health Fall 2020: Planning Guidelines for Campuses

Appendix B: Self-monitoring sheet

Athletics Self-Monitoring Sheet


Name: ______________________________________________________________________

Date of Last Exposure (if applicable): (MM/DD/YYYY): _______________       

Mark if you have any symptoms: circle Y for Yes and N for No. Do not leave any blank spaces.

If you have a fever (100.4 F or above) or any symptom, immediately contact your health care provider. Before seeking care, call your health care provider and tell them you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

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Appendix C: Athletics Sign in and out sheet

Sign in/out sheet


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Appendix D: CDC guidance on cloth face masks/MSU resources

Appendix E: CDC guidance on hand washing and hand sanitizer use

Appendix F: CDC guidance on social/physical distancing

Appendix G: CDC symptoms of COVID-19

Appendix H: State of Montana Phased Reopening Plan

Appendix I: COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings

Appendix J: Face Mask Requirement (Rescinded May 14, 2021)

As of May 14, 2021, per a directive from the Montana Commissioner of Higher Education, face masks are no longer required at Montana State University. Text has been removed from the following section to reflect that change.

What Counts as a Face Covering?

Appropriate face coverings are those that cover the mouth and nose of the wearer. Following Centers for Disease Control guidance, effective face coverings include simple cloth masks, scarves, or bandanas.

Following CDC guidance, face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face;
  • be secured with ties or ear loops;
  • include multiple layers of fabric;
  • allow for breathing without restriction; and
  • be able to be laundered and machine-dried without damaging them or changing their shape.
  • Cannot have an “exhale valve,” as those allow droplets to escape the mask

Plastic face shields may be used in instances where an individual can consistently and reliably maintain appropriate social distancing or where a cloth mask is otherwise impracticable. Such instances may include, but not be limited to, ADA and other medical accommodations. If an individual chooses to use a plastic face shield the shield should cover from above the eyes to below the chin and wrap around the side of the wearer’s face to reduce the risk of the spread of respiratory particles. However, it is important to note that cloth face masks are preferred. The CDC notes: It is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Plastic face shields for newborns and infants are NOT recommended.

Disposable, single use paper masks are also acceptable when another face covering option is not available. Unless in healthcare or other specialized settings, Montana State University recommends prudence about using N95 (additional regulatory requirements may be applicable) or surgical masks, which, due to critical supply issues nationally, should be prioritized for healthcare workers and other first responders. 

Appendix K: Template Response Plan for Level 2, 3, and 4 Research Operations

Download this template as a PDF

Laboratory principal investigator(s):

Name Dept./Institute Phone


Laboratory location(s):

Room Number(s):  


1. Are you able to transition all of your team (i.e. postdocs, students and staff) to remote work for at least the next 15 days* (i.e. data analysis, data interpretation, writing, literature review, etc.)?

  • Yes
  • No

* Please recognize that the 15 days is a minimum, but the laboratory shutdown may be longer. You will always have a chance to revisit this form and update.

If YES, sign and date this form, and provide a copy to your supervisor and the Office of Research Compliance.

Signature Date


If NO, continue you Question 2.

2. Would closing your laboratory or field-work lead to significant financial or data loss?

  • Yes
  • No

If NO, please sign and date this form, provide a copy to your supervisor and the Office of Research Compliance, and temporarily halt studies until research operations return to Level 1 as designated by the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education.

Signature Date


If YES, please proceed to Question 3.

3. Briefly describe the research activities that needs to continue and identify trained laboratory or field work members as “essential staff” that will maintain the work/equipment/colony/etc. Describe mitigation plans, that adhere to Level 2 guidelines, to ensure safe and responsible conduct of the research during this limited access (if granted). [Feel free to expand this field or attach a document/plan]

Signature Date


Administrative signatures only

Level 2 plan authorization

Department head or director"

Name Signature Date


Director, Office of Research Compliance

Name Signature Date


Level 3 plan authorization

Department head or director"

Name Signature Date


Director, Office of Research Compliance

Name Signature Date


 Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Name Signature Date


Level 4 plan authorization

Department head or director"

Name Signature Date


Director, Office of Research Compliance

Name Signature Date


 Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education

Name Signature Date



Name Signature Date



1: Based on and 



4: To make a bleach solution, mix 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

5: Note, a fever means a temperature equal to or above 100.4°F or 38°C.

6: For reference, putting on a mask, removing a mask, and mask see Appendix C.

7: See Appendix E

8: See Appendix H

9: The list of vulnerable individuals includes those with severe obesity. However, a severely obese student-athlete is at a different risk of COVID-19 than a severely obese adult. Therefore, unless a severely obese student-athlete has other serious co-morbid conditions, severely obese student-athletes will not be classified as vulnerable individuals.

10: Plan template available at