Last week, Missoula City-County Public Health Officer Ellen Leahy signed an order that changes the county’s mask (face covering) requirement to a recommendation. Also last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, stating “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
We write today to share that Commissioner Clayton Christian has announced the formal sunsetting of the Healthy MUS Planning Guidelines, which were in effect during this previous academic year. The leadership team, COVID Response Team and, and the Campus Preparedness and Reponse Group will work through the summer on updates to our planning for the fall semester. An important change with this announcement is that, effective immediately, the mask requirement for the Montana University System becomes a recommendation. Campuses will consult relevant authorities and guidance at the local, state and federal levels when developing ongoing guidance related to masks.
Effective today (Monday, May 17), masks will no longer be required on the UM campus, with the exception of Curry Health Center, which will still require patients and staff to wear masks. Per CDC guidelines, we recommend that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when in close contact (less than 6 feet) from others. Updates to the mask policy, coronavirus website and related procedures are underway.
With restrictions on masks, events and other spaces being relaxed or lifted, now is the time to make plans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already done so. The science behind the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines is clear: Individuals are at a far lower risk of developing severe complications, being hospitalized or succumbing to the coronavirus if vaccinated. The Health Services Pharmacy inside Curry Health Center will offer vaccine clinics throughout the summer. Register online for a vaccine appointment.
Though not required in most areas of campus, there may be situations where individuals feel more comfortable wearing a mask. Consider wearing masks as a precaution when returning to work from out-of-area travel, if you’ve recently attended a large event or if there’s a possibility you've been exposed to COVID-19.
There are also businesses in the community that are continuing to require masks. For these reasons, keep a mask available in case you need one. Likewise, please respect the decisions of others to continue wearing masks if they choose to do so. They may be doing it to protect you!