June 5, 2020: Message from the President: Fall Planning Measures


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

Dear UM colleagues,

I write today to provide an update on our planning efforts for the fall semester. Over the past two months, our teams have been hard at work ensuring we have appropriate mitigation measures in place for our UM family to work, learn and live on campus during this world pandemic.

Last month, we established a Health Advisory Group composed of public health, medical experts and scientists here on campus. This group has been hard at work developing General Health and Safety Guidelines that will inform overall campus operations in the fall and assist leaders across campus in developing more specific plans for their respective areas. The Health Advisory Group has focused their work on four main areas: mitigation, testing, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine procedures. (You may have heard this group referred to as the MTTI team – mitigate, test, trace, isolate.) Their work has been focused largely on non-academic, operational guidance.

At the same time and in close partnership with the Health Advisory Group, the Campus Preparedness and Response Group has been coordinating the work of leaders across campus in developing specific plans for their respective areas as we manage our ongoing response and planning for COVID-19. The CPRG, which we established in 2019, comprises more than 45 members from all areas of campus. Each sector is included, along with participation by shared governance leaders and representatives from the UM and Missoula College faculty unions and our largest staff union. This group has discussed fall semester for many weeks.

As you likely saw, on June 8 the Office of the Commissioner for Higher Education released guidelines for all MUS campuses to plan for this fall. The work we already have been doing aligns well with these guidelines, and the CPRG is incorporating that work in a comprehensive UM Healthy Fall 2020 plan that provides campus-specific plans in alignment with the MUS guidelines.

The UM Healthy Fall 2020 plan will include:


  1. General Health and Safety Guidelines as described above. The Health Advisory Group is finalizing a Version 1.0 of these guidelines and is making final adjustments in light of the MUS guidance released earlier this week. The guidance includes checklists for supervisors and managers to complete as part of a resumption of in-person operations. The General Health and Safety Guidelines document is in final editing, and we expect to release it next week.
  2. Campus-specific guidance for each of the 11 planning areas identified in the MUS guidance. Below you will see listed the 11 planning areas around which the MUS guidance and the UM plan are structured, along with the UM lead or co-leads for each. Each planning area has many additional team members and works closely with the Health Advisory Group. The 11 planning areas and leads are:

Deliver Quality Instruction (Nathan Lindsay)

Conduct Research and Creative Scholarship (Scott Whittenburg)

Provide Student Housing (Sarah Swager and Sandy Curtis)

Provide Food Services (Sarah Swager and Byron Drake)

Events and Welcoming Students/Visitors to Campus
(Sarah Swager, Shannon Brilz, Chuck Maes)

Athletics (Kent Haslam and Chuck Maes)

Provide Student Support Services (Sarah Swager and Brian Reed)

Staff Campus Operations (Paul Lasiter)

Maintain Buildings and Facilities (Kevin Krebsbach)

Provide Campus Transportation (Jordan Hess)

Campus Safety and Security (Chuck Emnett and Marty Ludemann)


Here’s a brief outline of the next steps in the planning process and an invitation for you to provide input to help us ensure we are as comprehensive as possible in our guidance:


June 10: General Health and Safety Guidelines available and posted on the UM COVID-19 website under the “Fall 2020” tab.


June 15: Planning Area leads will submit their UM-specific plans (which incorporate the MUS guidance).


June 18: The first draft of campus-specific guidance for each of the 11 planning areas identified in the MUS guidance will be presented to the Campus Preparedness and Response Group and posted on the website at COVID-19 website under the tab “Fall 2020.”


June 18-July 3: We will invite campus to review both documents, provide input and ask questions to surface considerations that will help us refine the guidance. This will include a series of review sessions (via Zoom) organized by planning areas and broadly, as well as a Qualtrics survey for feedback.


July 10: Release of UM’s Healthy Fall 2020 Plan (v1.0),* consisting of the General Health and Safety Guidelines and the campus-specific guidance for each of the 11 planning areas identified in the MUS guidance, which will be posted online.


*As we know this plan will be an iterative process, incorporating new information as it is available. We expect updates to occur, and we will post the updated versions and denote them as such.


The strategic communications and web teams will work to create a website that helps users navigate the document to access it by planning area or in total as a PDF.


In all, there are more than 100 UM employees working on this planning effort, and I know each of you has been working hard on your plans as well. The UM Healthy Fall 2020 Plan will be integral to our work as we proceed to welcoming students to campus in August. I appreciate the patience, flexibility and creativity you have shown in working together on these important matters.


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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