Instructional Planning Group


The Instructional Planning Group is developing recommendations for instruction in fall 2020. The group’s focus is on instructional modalities, use of classroom space, and conducting experiential learning, to complement the “Working in Classroom Environments” guidelines outlined in the Health Advisory Group’s recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions

These Frequently Asked Questions are a work in progress. Please check this page frequently for updated answers. If you have a question that’s not answered here, please email and we will include it here.

Yes!  The language related the requirement of masks has been outlined throughout the University of Montana Healthy Fall 2020 plan.

In an effort to provide as much face-to-face class time as possible, we are exploring  the possibility of scheduling outdoor classroom spaces for part of the Fall Semester.

Obviously being that this is Montana, outdoor classroom space does have its challenges.

  • Accessibility challenges
  • Inclement weather and air quality are items that must be kept in mind at all times.
  • Limited to no technology and / or power.
  • Poor acoustics
  • Maintaining social distancing

In order to reduce the destruction of our campus greenery, at this time we are primarily focusing on hard surface locations, such as the tennis courts next to the UC, rooftops of the two underground lecture halls, and the Prescott House Pavilion. However, should there be great interest, we may explore additional options. Parking lots are not an option to be considered.

The Registrar deserves a round of applause for their efforts to schedule as many face-to-face classes as possible, with the reduced capacities we’ve been challenged with due to social distancing. Unfortunately, there were 17 courses that had requested face-to-face, but because of their class size, were forced to go fully remote. These classes would be given priority of scheduling outdoor space, if they so choose. However, courses that only have an outdoor classroom would need to move to remote teaching during inclement weather or poor air quality. There will not be a backup indoor classroom provided for these courses.

In terms of classes that have already been allocated indoor classroom space, if they are given a section outdoors, it would serve as a shadow classroom. Meaning they would still retain the indoor space and could move indoors should it be deemed necessary, because of inclement weather and/or air quality. Communicating to the students as to where they will be meeting each day would be the responsibility of the Faculty member. We will also be asking the Faculty members to take on additional responsibilities in their outdoor classes, but that list has yet to be finalized.

As highlighted in the University of Montana Healthy Fall 2020 plan, below are the relevant guidelines.  The Fall 2020 plan also outlines the ADA process as well.

Non-medical/non-Disability Requests for Telework or Modification

UM is closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation. Until further notice, the University expects employees to report to work in person. UM recognizes that individuals might have extenuating circumstances where they might need to temporarily telework or request another modification. In such case, employees should contact their supervisor/Chair or Dean to discuss their concerns and needs.

If the employee’s supervisor/Chair or Dean and employee believe that teleworking or another modification is appropriate (“alternative arrangement”), they should draft a brief statement describing the reason for the need for the alternative arrangement, the anticipated length of the arrangement, and if the arrangement is teleworking, the employee and supervisor must complete a telework agreement form. These documents must be provided to HRS, ten (10) working days prior to the requested start date for the alternative arrangement. HRS approval is required prior to the start of the alternative arrangement. If approved documentation will be filed in the employee’s personnel record.  If telework is not a reasonable option, other options such as an N95 mask, Plexiglas shields, alternate work schedules, or enforced social distancing should be considered.

Request to Address Safety Concerns Related to COVID-19

Employees who have identified areas of concern regarding COVID-19 exposure risks (such as a need for Plexiglas shields, signage, face shields, or cleaning materials) should contact Michele Wheeler in Human Resource Services to outline the concern and discuss possible solutions.

Questions contact: Michele Wheeler in Human Resource Services (HRS) at 406-243-2842 or via email at:

We recognize that the timelines for decision-making have been extraordinarily tight this year. Because both the COVID situation and UM's instructional plans continue to evolve, we encouraged instructors to make the best decisions they could given current information.

To respond to the above feedback (and allow faculty to read the updated Guidelines before deciding on modalities), the timeline for July was moved back as follows:

  • July 14: After consulting with instructors, the department chair or admin will submit (to the Registrar’s Office) requests for modality, classroom and technology needs and other information for each course (see Autumn 2020 Course Updates template). If instructors are not assigned to particular courses yet, the department should request a modality for that course based on anticipated course content and
  • The registrar will then work to accommodate requests for classroom spaces. Depending on availability of suitable spaces, it may not be possible to accommodate all classes that request face-to-face or hybrid/blended modalities. Courses will be prioritized for classroom spaces according to the criteria
  • July 21: The Registrar will inform departments about classroom availability for face-to- face or hybrid/blended
  • July 24: Students will receive information about how their courses will be
  • July 31: Priority deadline for students who are at higher risk for COVID-19 to request remote attendance accommodations through Disability Services for Students. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. DSS will consult the definitions of instructional modalities, with brief descriptions.

As noted in the Fall 2020 plan, the Keep on Teaching website and OOLD’s Distance Teaching webpage are regularly being updated with new training resources. Examples include video resources developed by UM faculty experts, faculty discussion groups, training on advanced uses of Zoom, etc.

A list of classrooms with the technology available in them are detailed on this spreadsheet. Department chairs have submitted room needs to the Registrar's Office and they are working to assign classrooms to match these requests as much as possible. Once you know your classroom assignments, you may also schedule a consultation with an IT specialist on classroom technology to walk through how classroom technology and software such as webcams, microphones, and lecture capture can be used to support your teaching this fall. Contact Scott Christensen (x5322), Classroom Support Technician, in IT to set up an appointment.

If you have concerns related to non-technology-related issues, first please consult with your dean and department chair about the risk mitigation steps that are being undertaken in your college and department. If you have additional questions about risk mitigation, please reach out to

The Facilities team has mapped out the seating/spacing for all classrooms on campus.  We also sent a message to all Deans/Sector Heads, requesting that the scheduling of space be centralized so that we can use larger rooms on campus to accommodate classes up to 50 students. In the revised Guidelines, we strongly recommended not having face-to-face classes over 50 students, or using a hybrid approach so that subsets of students attend at different times throughout the week.

UM’s student technology loan program allows students to borrow remote hardware technology (laptops, webcams, WiFi hotspots) for participating in remote instruction.

Additional Questions

The above FAQs are those that relate specifically to Instructional Planning. Many faculty questions that have arisen in recent weeks are relevant to and are being addressed by the Health Advisory Group. It’s also important to note that developing these Guidelines is an iterative process, and there are still several FAQs that will be clarified in the coming weeks, such as the following:

The broad range of questions we have received on this topic will be addressed further in Live Classroom Scenarios that are being planned for later in July. Strategies/best practices learned from these scenarios will be shared with campus. In addition, checklists will be posted in each classroom that provide a layout of the classroom, highlights the entrances/exits, and outlines health guidelines that need to be followed.

The MUS Healthy Taskforce is focusing on these (and other enforcement-related) questions and will provide guidance to institutions across Montana.

UM’s Health Advisory Group will be addressing these and related questions.

Safety messaging for in-person instruction and template language for syllabi

In an effort to communicate expectations and important safety messages to students returning to the classroom, the following important information should be communicated to in-person students on the first day of fall class.  This information can also be included in course syllabi:

  • Mask use is required within the classroom.
  • Each student is provided with a cleaning kit. The expectation is that students will clean their personal work space when they arrive for class, and before they leave the classroom.
  • Classrooms may have one-way entrances / exits to minimize crowding.
  • Students should be discouraged from congregating outside the classroom before and after class.
  • Specific seating arrangements will be used to ensure social distancing and support contact tracing efforts.
  • Class attendance will be recorded to support contact tracing efforts.
  • Drinking liquids and eating food is discouraged within the classroom (which requires mask removal).
  • Information on the nearest “refill” stations for cleaning supplies/hand sanitizer if applicable.
  • If the class is being recorded, students must be notified of the recording.
  • Stay home if you feel sick and/or if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If the student is sick or displaying symptoms, please contact the Curry Health Center at (406) 243-4330.
  • Up-to-Date COVID-19 Information from the University of Montana.
  • UM Coronavirus Website:
  • UM COVID-19 Fall 2020 website:

Strongly encourage students to remain vigilant outside the classroom in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Areas of focus

Instructional modalities

We are studying different ways to deliver instruction, including face-to-face, hybrid, hyflex, remote, and online instruction methods, as well as how to train instructors on these modalities. We are also exploring different ways to proctor exams.

Use of classroom space

We are reviewing room availability, capacity, and features. We will make recommendations for instructional space assignments based on course offerings, class sizes, and a variety of campus spaces with a view to meeting the health and safety needs of instructors and students.

The Registrar's Office has helpfully assembled a spreadsheet listing classrooms and their capacities.

Experiential learning

We are developing protocols to support experiential learning in the fall. Our work will help UM make experiential learning opportunities such as laboratory experiences, performances, field work, and internships possible this fall.

Information sharing

We will ensure the group’s recommendations reach UM ‘s instructors, advisors, students, and staff. We are preparing a robust communication plan to ensure the Instructional Planning Group’s recommendations reach all stakeholder audiences.

Group Members

Sean Boushie, Lab Supervisor, Division of Biological Sciences

Jameel Chaudry, UM Architect

Nancy Clouse, Senior Instructional Designer, UMOnline

Brian Dowdle, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of World Languages and Cultures

James Flanagan, ASUM Vice President

Jason Granvold, Academic Advisor, Office for Student Success

John Greer, Head of Technology and Systems Services, Mansfield Library

Taylor Gregory, ASUM President

Haley Hostetler, Alumni, Scheduling, and Student Services Coordinator, Office of the Registrar

Amy Kinch, Director, Office of Organizational Learning and Development

Maricel Lawrence, Executive Director, UMOnline

Nathan Lindsay, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, group chair

Tom McClintock, Program Coordinator, Office of the Provost

Kim Nielson, Planning and Construction, Facilities Services

Bonnie Pace, Associate Registrar, Office of the Registrar

James Randall, Associate Professor and Director, School of Music

Zachary Reddig, Associate Dean, Missoula College

Nicholas Tarter, Alumni, Scheduling, and Student Services Coordinator, Office of the Registrar

Klaus Uhlenbruck, Associate Dean, College of Business

Victor Valgenti, Assistant Professor, Department of Business Technology

Andrea Vernon, Director, Experiential Learning and Career Services

Tony Ward, Professor, School of Public and Community Health Sciences

Mika Watanabe, Lead Coordinator, Disability Services for Students

Art Woods, Professor, Division of Biological Sciences

Laurie Yung, Professor, Department of Society and Conservation

Contact the Instructional Planning Group

Please email for further information.