July 6, 2020: President's Message on Mask Guidance

 



University of Montana. Office of the President. Picture of Seth Bodnar

Dear Campus Community,

Thank you for continuing to provide feedback on our campus-specific guidance for UM’s Healthy Fall 2020 plan. By helping us anticipate scenarios and address concerns, your feedback will result in a more informed plan. I write today with important updates regarding mask policy and plans for testing on our campus this fall.

As you may be aware, our campus plans for the fall – including mask policy – must operate within the guidelines issued by the Montana University System Healthy Fall Task Force, which was established to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated approach to addressing COVID-19 on campuses across the state.

One of the most effective mitigation measures we can take as a community is the widespread use of masks, and our goal at UM has been – and continues to be – to ensure the broadest use of masks possible. We expect everyone in buildings on our campus, except when alone in an individual office, to wear a mask.

Over the past several weeks, I have been in discussions with both state and local officials regarding appropriate measures to ensure compliance with this, and I am pleased to share that Commissioner Clay Christian has announced he will reconvene the MUS Healthy Fall Task Force to revisit this issue and consider allowing campuses to require masks. The task force will meet this Wednesday.

County health departments across Montana play a critical leadership role in COVID-19 response. UM’s collaboration with Missoula County has been robust and occurring since early in the spring. The county has the lead for coordination of testing and conducting contact tracing for all confirmed cases within the county, including our campus. Additionally, we are working closely with county officials around planning for quarantine and isolation. More information will be forthcoming around our efforts in these areas.

I am grateful for the important work of UM’s Health Advisory Group over the past two months, particularly with regard to COVID-19 testing capabilities. Given the constraints on testing supplies nationally, this is also an area in which it is important we have a coordinated approach across the MUS.

Last Wednesday, we had a meeting in Helena with Gov. Steve Bullock, state and local health officials, and MUS leadership to discuss our current plans and review the latest CDC guidance. Dr. Jeff Adams, the director of Curry Health Center, and Reed Humphrey, dean of the College of Health, will work closely with leaders across the system – as well as local and state health officials – during the coming weeks to refine our campus plans and ensure a coordinated testing approach for the MUS.

As the MUS policy on masks evolves and we further refine our testing, tracing and isolation plan, we will keep you informed. Thank you for your continued engagement and shared commitment to the health of the UM family.

Seth

Office of the President
University of Montana - 32 Campus Drive
Missoula, Montana 59812 | 406-243-2311
thepresident@umontana.edu | www.umt.edu/president

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