President's Campus Communication COVID-19 Update

March 5, 2020

Dear UM Family,

As news about COVID-19 intensifies, you likely have questions about what steps UM is taking to respond and protect our students, faculty and staff.

As with the larger community, our campus is a dynamic environment with students, faculty, staff and community members coming and going from around the country and the world. In coordination with state and local health officials, UM will proactively monitor individuals according to CDC protocols based on their travel history or other risk factors.

To date, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the University of Montana, in Missoula or in Missoula County. State and local health officials advise that the risk to the general public continues to be low. Classes and operations at UM and across the Montana University System are continuing as usual.

In the event a case were confirmed on campus or in our community, UM leadership would, in collaboration with state and local officials, take appropriate action and release additional information in the interest of public health.

UM recently formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance and communicate with our community. The task force or subsets of members are meeting daily to synthesize the latest information, consult with experts, analyze risk and prepare for various scenarios. The health and well-being of our community members is our priority.

For more information on how the Montana University System is responding to COVID-19, please see the Montana University System COVID-19 FAQ, which addresses a range of questions related to prevention and response on campus – from academics to spring break travel.

We understand that many are experiencing anxiety about their own safety and the well-being of friends and family in impacted areas. Please don’t hesitate to seek mental health support from Curry Health Center at 406-243-2122.

Please also keep in mind that uncertain times often give rise to misinformation. For reliable coronavirus updates please refer to the following sites:

UM Curry Health Center
US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS)
US State Department Travel Advisories

You may also contact the Missoula City-County Health Department information line at 406-258-INFO. The line is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Above all, we ask for your help. The best defense against any virus is good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene. Please help us keep our campus safe by covering your cough, staying home if you’re sick and washing your hands. As the CDC notes, everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy.

Finally, it’s important to recognize that as this situation develops, each of us will understandably be concerned for our own safety and that of our families. As we navigate the days and weeks ahead, I’d also like to encourage every member of the UM family to remember to act with kindness, with compassion and with a spirit of shared responsibility to address this emerging situation as a united, supportive community. This defines who we are as a UM family, and it is this spirit that will help us collectively manage this situation as effectively as possible.

We will continue to keep you informed and will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

Be well,

Seth