May 15, 2021

A Return to Normal Operations




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Dear UM Colleagues,

Thank you for your hard work and service to UM in the extraordinary times wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Watching our students graduate at Commencement was a beautiful reminder that our circumstances do not define who we are. I know the resilience and dedication shown in countless ways over the previous 12 to 14 months positions us for continued success as we look toward the next chapter of our University’s exciting future.

As Commissioner Clay Christian shared in guidance earlier this spring, we are planning for a return to normal operations for the fall 2021 semester. Just as we endeavor to deliver in-person instruction to our students to the greatest extent possible this fall, we ask that employees transition back to working on campus. We look forward to a campus brimming with activity, filled with students and colleagues we have missed, and alive with events and gatherings over the summer as we prepare to welcome students home in August, reuniting the UM family on our beautiful campus.

Supervisors and employees should begin conversations to transition from pandemic-related telecommuting to working on campus as soon as possible, with a goal of returning to our usual in-person operations by the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2021. Timely discussions will enable thoughtful planning for this transition.  All telecommuting agreements currently in place will expire on June 30, 2021. All telecommuting agreements (including those not related to or resulting from COVID-19) must be updated using a new form available on the HRS website that requires annual evaluation and renewal. Employees will work with their supervisor to complete a new form if their work location will continue to include a remote location. 

Employees requesting to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact Michele Wheeler of Human Resource Services to confidentially discuss their request. Employees who currently are telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact Michele Wheeler regarding the status of their accommodation.

We realize that there are instances where working remotely benefits the employee, the University and its constituents. Working remotely, either on a full-time or part-time basis, will be available, with the requirement that all telecommuting agreements be evaluated and renewed on an annual basis.

With regard to COVID-19, the commissioner’s guidance describes summer as a time of “steady and careful transition,” and we will continue to follow all safety guidance from both the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Missoula City-County Health Department. Our planning for the summer and fall will continue to be guided by data on COVID-19 cases, vaccine administration and efficacy, campus mitigations and overall safety considerations.

If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 planning and operations for summer and fall, please discuss them with your supervisor, refer to UM’s coronavirus website or email the COVID Response Team.

Paul Lasiter
Vice President for Operations and Finance
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