Dear MSU Community,

I hope that you are all enjoying a restful summer and that you and your loved ones are staying healthy amid all the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The start of our fall semester is approaching on August 17, and with it the delivery of courses in different modalities, including in-person, remote and hybrid formats. Here at your university, we have been in constant consultation with public health experts and have altered nearly every aspect of campus life -- from how classes are scheduled to how the furniture is arranged -- to help minimize the risk from COVID-19.

We published our plans in June in the Roadmap for Fall 2020, but I wanted to use the coming weeks to write to you in more detail about what you can expect from Montana State this semester. Today we start with one of the most asked questions we have been receiving: What will classes look like this fall?

The answer begins in the classrooms themselves, where we have adjusted layouts to accommodate proper social distancing. Necessarily, this means fewer students will be able to be in classrooms at once, which led us to adapt the delivery of some classes for fall: Some remain in-person, some have moved to a remote modality, and many will incorporate a blend of those two modes.

In contrast to the onset of the pandemic last spring, when the transition to remote courses came suddenly and required our faculty to rapidly shift in-progress classes to new delivery methods, our dedicated faculty have been working diligently this summer to redesign their courses.

The changes to courses will be reflected in the schedule of classes available in MyInfo. There, students will find notes indicating if a class is "Internet/Online" or "Blended." Listings without these added notes will be offered in-person in at the time and the classroom listed.

Remote (Internet/Online) classes can be offered either synchronously, meaning students meet at a specific time and participate with class in real time, or asynchronously, meaning they engage with course materials without a specific meeting time. Internet/Online listings that include days and times are synchronous; no dates and times mean the course is offered asynchronously.

Blended courses are offered partially via remote platforms (internet/online) but with a significant portion of them conducted in-person. Students can check their Brightspace/D2L accounts as the start of the semester approaches to see how their instructor will manage the blend to ensure the best possible learning environment. Students are expected to attend the in-person portions of these classes at the time and the classroom listed in the class schedule.

Given the heavy reliance on teleconferencing and online/internet presence in this pandemic year, it's important to note that students will need access to an appropriate device to join the remote portions of classes. MSU has a program that allows personal purchases for students for Apple and Dell computers at an educational discount. As an alternative to purchasing, the MSU Library offers various devices, including laptops, for short-term checkout, and student computer labs will also be available.

A set of good quality headphones and a microphone are helpful when participating in virtual sessions -- loans of this equipment are not available due to sanitation reasons. A webcam is also recommended for an improved online classroom experience, whether it's built into your device or an external camera.

I urge students to take the time to review the classes they have registered for and to understand how all of these changes impact their schedules. Please visit MyInfo and Brightspace/D2L regularly, as class delivery may continue to change in response to new information and circumstances.

Questions about classes can be directed to [email protected], and students can learn more about the different course delivery modes from our Academic Technology and Outreach office. Specific questions about majors and programs of study should be directed to course faculty or academic departments.

This will be a fall semester unlike any other at Montana State. I look very much forward to welcoming you back for a new academic year and to all the promise and potential it brings.

Be well, and I look forward to seeing you next month.



Waded Cruzado
President, Montana State University