Frequently Asked Questions about Coronavirus

Health and Wellness

According to the CDC, novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Read more from the CDC about COVID-19 Symptoms.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in many affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

If you are sick, stay home.

Practice good hygiene.

  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing, and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean your hands by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Monitor your symptoms closely. Take your temperature daily.

Stay home from school and work until at least 72 hours after your fever ends, without the use of fever-reducing medications. If you must go out of the house or be around others, wear a mask and avoid close contact. Be especially careful around people who have compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions or are age 60 and older.

Take care of yourself. Rest as much as possible. Drink lots of fluids.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 infection — such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath — please take the steps listed below:

First: Call your health provider in advance. Please do not show up at a clinic, urgent care or other health facility without calling first. Your provider will need to take special measures to protect other people in the clinic. Telemedicine may also be available, enabling you to consult a provider from home.

  • Students on the UM campus may contact Curry Health Center at 406-243-2122.
  • Students who have a primary health care provider should contact that doctor.
  • Faculty, other academic personnel and staff should contact their primary care provider.

If you had close contact* with a person with confirmed COVID-19, but you do not have any symptoms (fever, coughing, shortness of breath):

  1. Stay at home for 14 days after your last contact with the ill person. Do not go to school or work. Avoid public places.
  2. During the 14 days, monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  3. Notify the Missoula City-County Health Department at 406-258-4770.

*Close contact is defined as being within about 6 feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for a prolonged period of time, or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case without wearing personal protective equipment.

According to Missoula City-County Health Department:

  • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. These can be symptoms of other respiratory illnesses as well as COVID-19.
  • If you are in a high-risk category, and have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider for advice. If you are at risk for serious illness, your health care provider may arrange a test for COVID-19.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Avoid sharing personal household items. Clean your hands often. Clean all high-touch surfaces like doorknobs often.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay home and avoid others for 72 hours after your fever goes down and symptoms get better.
  • Visiting the Missoula City-County Health Department Testing and Screening Resources website for information on testing.

Testing is typically contacted by taking a swab at a health care provider’s office. Call ahead before visiting your health care provider.

There are many misconceptions about the test for COVID-19. The Missoula City-County Health Department provides the following facts:

  • The test is NOT a screening test. That means that it cannot determine if someone has been exposed to the virus or will develop the illness. It is a diagnostic test that can determine the cause of someone’s illness.
  • Do not go to the ER to get tested. Those who develop symptoms should call one of the Focused Screening Centers listed at co/cvirus. UM students can call the Curry Health Center at 406-243-2122 if they have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who tested positive or have questions or concerns about COVID-19.
  • The Missoula County COVID-19 Testing Site testing criteria includes any of the symptoms listed on the CDC website, which include the following: fever over 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and new loss of taste or smell. Tests are free and by appointment only. If you have symptoms and would like to schedule a test, call 258-INFO and select Option 2 to speak to a nurse.
If you are sick, stay home. You should take steps you normally would when sick, including focusing on caring for your health, contacting your health care provider if you feel you need and don’t attend social events. 

People with preexisting health conditions are at higher risk to develop complications from a COVID-19 infection. People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and stay away from people as much as possible.

People at higher risk include people:

  • More than 60 years of age.
  • With underlying health conditions, including include heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.
  • With weakened immune systems.
  • Who are pregnant.

If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:

  • Stock up on supplies
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick
  • Limit close contact and wash your hands often
  • Avoid crowds, cruise travel, and non-essential travel

If there is an outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Watch for symptoms and emergency signs. If you get sick, stay home and call your doctor. 

The novel coronavirus outbreak presents stress and worry for members of our UM community. This is a critically important time for all of us to reinforce a community of care on our campus and support one another.

If you would like to talk with someone, support is available to students through through Curry Health Center Counseling

The Missoula County Infectious Disease Line has COVID-19-specific support from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 406-258-3896. The county also has a COVID-19 website. Local government leaders are providing regular video updates on the Missoula County YouTube channel.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services staffs the Nurse First Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reach it by calling 1-800-330-7847.

Missoula's Community Medical Center provides a Nurse-on-Call hotline 24 hours a day, seven days at week. Call 406-327-4770 to speak with a nurse.

If you are in need of immediate emergency assistance, call 9-1-1.

Prevention

The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza, is to avoid exposure to the virus. Take the CDC-recommended precautions to reduce your risk of exposure, including proper handwashing; covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others, covering coughs and sneezes and then throwing the tissue in a trash receptacle; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces; and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

You can reduce the risk of spreading coronaviruses by taking the same steps as you would to prevent infection from the flu and the common cold:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for a least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer, with 60-95% alcohol if water is not available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately dispose of the used tissue.

The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door knobs, tables, computer keyboards, handrails, exercise rooms).

Departments should use a disinfectant on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus, an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol or a 10% bleach/water solution to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces. It is also recommended that all departments purchase single use disinfectant wipes for touch points within their work spaces.

Please avoid putting disinfectant gels or liquids on electronics and other equipment, including elevator buttons, unless they have been indicated as safe to use on those devices.

To protect employees working for essential businesses that come in contact with the public, and to protect the public, the Missoula City-County Board of Health strongly recommends that all members of the public and all employees and volunteers serving the public wear a cloth face covering that fully covers the mouth and nose whenever they are out in public and unable to social distance. An example of such situations is working or shopping in essential businesses. The board is hopeful that the community embraces this recommendation and that an order requiring such use of cloth face coverings can be avoided. The board recognizes that some individuals, due to age and ability, may not be able to wear or tolerate wearing a cloth face covering.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining six-feet physical distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. May 20, 2020.

University Operations

On March 26, Gov. Steve Bullock issued a stay-at-home directive for residents of Montana. Montana began its re-opening on April 27 and continues a phased approach and adjustment at the discretion of the governor. Montana entered Phase Two of its reopening on June 1 and continues a phased approach and adjustment at the discretion of the governor. 

All facilities on the UM campus remained locked. Employees requiring access to other buildings may still use their existing Griz Card or key access options. Other personnel requiring access should call UMPD at 406-243-6131 for assistance.

Updated at 2:26 p.m. June 30, 2020.

The University of Montana began remote instruction March 23 and concluded the semester remotely. The first session of summer school began May 11 and is also being conducted remotely.

Campus offices and departments are now offering remote services.  The Student information page has more information about how to contact student service offices.

Most facilities on the UM campus remained locked. Employees requiring access to other buildings may still use their existing Griz Card or key access options. Other personnel requiring access should call UMPD at 406-243-6131 for assistance.

Updated at 2:27 p.m. June 30, 2020.

As of March 22, we strongly encourage all students to make plans to move out of our residence halls as soon as possible. As quickly as COVID-19 is spreading throughout the U.S., we want to ensure that our students are as far out of harm’s way as possible and leaving a communal living situation will do just that. And while we are strongly encouraging students to leave, no one will be evicted from our halls. We will find suitable accommodations.

If your circumstances are such that our residence halls are your only option, please contact us immediately at 406-243-2611. We will work with you on your individual situation. We will not evict anyone from the residence halls.

Call UM Housing at 406-243-2611 for more information.

Updated 11:31 p.m. March 31, 2020.

 

Yes. Refunds of room and board fees will be issued for the period from March 23 through the end of spring term. Students were asked to complete a cancellation form to be eligible for the refund. 

Updated 11:26 a.m. May 20, 2020.

Some Campus Dining venues remain open for summer hours. Our dining team is making modifications to service to minimize risk to our community, and they will continue to adjust as the situation evolves. Visit the Campus Dining website for the latest hours of operation.

  • The Food Zoo is closed for the summer.
  • The UC Market is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Jus Chill'n in the UC is closed until further notice.
  • The Iron Griz is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
  • The Food Court in the UC, the Corner Store, Pizza Hut and all coffee shops are closed.

Updated 2:28 p.m. June 30, 2020.

We are pleased to announce that the University of Montana is beginning to host a limited number of in-person campus visits Monday-Friday.

For the safety of students, family and our staff, advanced notice is required for a scheduled visit and space is limited.

We recommend contacting our office at least two weeks in advance for the best availability.

Contact our Campus Visit Coordinator at campusvisit@mso.umt.edu for more information and/or to set up a visit.

If you are unable to schedule ahead or visit campus in person at this time, please take advantage of our Virtual Visits.

 

We also have canceled all in-person Bear Tracks events scheduled for this spring and summer.  The Bear Tracks program is now offered fully online. Learn more about UM's Online Bear Tracks Registration Program.

 Updated 2:29 p.m. June 30, 2020.

The Mansfield Library is committed to ensuring that the campus community stays remotely connected with library resources through robust online services. Find out more on this updates page. Laptops are now available for summer session checkouts: Reserve one today.

Montana Borrowers and all Griz Card holders can place holds on library books and media for contact-free curbside pickup. Library users will be notified by email or text when their materials are ready for pickup in front of the library. Most holds will be available 1-2 business days after the request is received. Learn how to place a hold at the Mansfield Library.

Need to set up a Montana Borrowers account? Community members who are 15 years or older can call the library at 406-243-4071 and ask to set up an account. A photo ID with current address information or a picture ID without a current Montana address and mail with current Montana address will need to be presented the first-time library material is picked up via curbside checkout.

UM alumni and retirees will need to present a photo ID when picking up library material.

Stay connected and find out more about library resources and services at Mansfield Library

Updated at 2:31 p.m. June 30, 2020.

UM users with valid Griz Cards can make an appointment using an online calendar system linked from the library homepage for computers, studios and the Accessible Technology Room.

 

Central Receiving accepts packages from UPS and FedEx when departments are closed and will hold the packages. Drivers are aware of this procedure. UM offices and departments should call Mike Weddle at 406-243-6304 to let him know that their department will be closed. When employees return to campus, they can pick-up the mail from Central Receiving in Building 32 at the customer service window from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday. 

Updated 3:58 p.m. March 27, 2020.

Academics

As of March 23, all MUS campuses, in every instance possible, transitioned all in-class instruction to remote teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. UM completed spring semester remotely.

UMOnline is providing resources to assist faculty and students with remote instruction. Visit the following webpages for more information:

Students: Keep on Learning

Faculty: Keep on Teaching

Employees: Keep on Working

All UM students and employees need to monitor their official email address for more communications and planning details.

See Provost Jon Harbor's message on March 27 about Grading Options for Spring Semester.

Updated at 11:23 a.m. May 20, 2020.

Yes, it will be possible. Our goal is to make sure that students’ academic work is fairly recognized and that any disruption does not present a disadvantage to their future academic progress.

On April 3, UM shared disappointing news that spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies are postponed.

Graduation and Commencement are two different actions. When a student graduates from the University of Montana, he or she has successfully completed an academic program or course of study. Graduation has not been postponed; that will still take place at the end of the course of study for all students who meet the requirements of their degree program. 

Commencement is the ceremony in which the conferral of degrees takes place. UM has postponed Commencement until a later date when it is safe to celebrate our spring 2020 graduates. 

Graduation fees paid by students at the beginning of their senior year are used to maintain the electronic degree audit system, as well as graduation evaluation and other activities related to graduation. That fee does not fund Commencement activities and there will be no refund of graduation fees. There is no student fee at UM to fund Commencement.

Updated 10:55 a.m. April 6, 2020.

Yes. Refunds of room and board fees will be issued for the period from March 23 through the end of spring term. Students were asked to complete a cancellation form to be eligible for the refund. 

Updated 11:26 a.m. May 20, 2020.

UM deans are working with department chairs/directors and faculty members to determine substitutes and alternatives for experiential learning that may be canceled. If your activity is delayed or canceled, your professor will be instructed on how to grade the experience in a way that will not adversely affect your academic record or financial aid.

Yes, you can coordinate with your program director/advisers to conduct the defense via remote methods.

Students should request permission to conduct field work from the faculty member who supervises their field work. The faculty member will help the student determine an appropriate schedule for fieldwork and take into account any safety and risk issues that are specific to each field site and course.

Yes. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of State have temporarily suspended regulations preventing international students from participating in remote classes.

While UM's international students have the option to remain on campus to complete their semester, many have received directives from their home countries and/or universities to return home as soon as possible.

UM faculty members are asked to work with international students in their classes to implement accommodations that will allow the student to complete their coursework remotely. Please note that some students may have limited access to certain virtual communication methods and will be working from a different time zone.  For more information email Caroline McLean, assistant director, International Students and Scholars at caroline.mclean@mso.umt.edu.

Human Resources

See UMOnline's Keep on Working webpage for more information.

As we navigate this evolving situation, we must acknowledge several important points:

  • Our campus provides essential services for our students and our community. Though we have moved to remote instruction and the number of students on campus will be reduced greatly, some students will remain on campus in residence halls and will need access to key services that in some cases cannot be delivered remotely.
  • Certain functions — payroll, IT, facilities, HR, finance, research, to name a few — are critical not just for students, but for all UM employees, and some of this work cannot be done remotely.
  • The current situation regarding COVID-19 is unlikely to be resolved in a matter of days. We must take appropriate steps to be prepared to operate for an extended period of time under conditions that are not normal.

Our goal is to ensure continuity of operations for our campus while encouraging and enabling remote work to the greatest extent possible. A key reason for encouraging remote work arrangements for positions where it is possible is to lessen the traffic and exposure to health risks for our essential service providers whose responsibilities cannot be exercised off campus.

On March 17 UM shared a memo with all supervisors providing guidance on remote work. While the University must remain open and continue to offer an appropriate base level of service, we are encouraging departments to use greater flexibility in work-from-home and telework arrangements, where feasible, to reduce campus-based activity and traffic.

We have asked sector heads to review each department, program and service within their sectors to determine if there are modifications required, including, but not limited to: reduced hours of operations, condensed services or adjustments to accommodate remote delivery of required work. Supervisors and team members should discuss remote work possibilities, and if a remote work is an option, establish a Telework Agreement that establishes expectations for employee-supervisor contact and accountability during the modified work arrangement.

This agreement is important for tracking purposes and legal matters such as worker’s compensation coverage. For this reason, faculty who are able to perform their work as a telework arrangement will need to complete a faculty-specific Telework Agreement as well. For managers who supervise student employees, you may also explore telework options and complete Telework Agreements for your student employees.

While policy states that probationary employees are not eligible for telework, this will not be a deciding factor under the current circumstances. 

Updated 1:01 p.m. March 27, 2020.

UM recommends employees with specific health concerns contact their health care provider for medical advice tailored to their individual situations. Employees should work with their supervisor and can contact Human Resource Services at 406-243-6766 to discuss their situation. See the Keep on Working webpage for more information on HR policies, leave information, teleworking agreements and more. 

If you are sick, stay home. Staff and student workers should continue to follow their unit’s procedure for requesting sick time off and can find more information on the HR website.

UMOnline also has information about leave policies on the Keep on Working webpage.

Additionally, President Bodnar has authorized expanded use of sick time to cover situations that may be unique to the risks posed by COVID-19. Please refer to UMOnline’s Keep on Working website for those details.

UM Information Technology offers free tools for videoconferencing, chat, collaboration, online storage and more. Visit UMOnline for additional resources and guidance.

Updated 11:01 a.m. April 6, 2020.

There is new information on the leave types that are available to employees under regulations issued by the federal government.  The purpose of these leaves is to help support employees during the current pandemic. These federal leave types are available from April 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.  These federal leaves are available in addition to the State Paid COVID-19 Leaves. All of the information regarding these additional leave types is available on the HRS website.

COVID-19 Information and Resources

Please note: An employee can use both the federal and the state leave. For instance, the employee could use 14 days of paid State COVID-19 leave to cover being in isolation (quarantine) and then follow that with 14 days of Federal COVID-19 Leave to cover the same circumstances.

Updated 12:35 p.m. April 8, 2020.

Travel and Study Abroad

On March 19, the Department of State issued a Global Health Advisory - Level 4: Do Not Travel. The State Department advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

You are encouraged to visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.

Any person coming to Montana from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. If you are arriving from out of state and Missoula County is your final destination, please contact the Missoula City-County Health Department at 406-258-3896. This applies to all travel, including vehicle travel.

Curry Health Center's Travel Clinic provides advice and assistance to UM students, faculty and staff who have recently traveled internationally. Students, faculty and staff can make a travel health appointment by calling Curry Health Center's main medical line at 406-243-4330 and asking for a "travel health appointment."

Updated 11:01 a.m. April 6, 2020.

No. Based on U.S. Department of State’s issuance of Global Level 4 Health Advisory- Do Not Travel for all U.S. citizens due to the global impact of COVID-19, the University of Montana has canceled any UM-sponsored student international travel scheduled to begin by the end of May 2020. Faculty and staff international UM-sponsored travel scheduled to begin by the end of May 2020 will be suspended.

UM-sponsored travel beginning on or after June 1, 2020, will be reviewed by UM’s International Travel Review Committee in mid-April with the final approval by the provost. Travelers are advised to purchase fully refundable tickets until the final decision about their planned travel is made. For more information about this announcement, email Marja Unkuri-Chaudhry, associate director, UM Global Engagement Office, at MarjaC@mso.umt.edu

UM's Global Engagement Office has been in communication with all students studying abroad since the COVID-19 outbreak began and has worked with these students and their families to arrange for their return home.

Effective March 12, UM has canceled all spring 2020 and academic year 2019-20 education abroad programs worldwide. This is in response to the Department of State, Level 3 Global Health Advisory, which advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. The State Department later issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisory for all U.S. citizens. 

The Montana University System has restricted all non-essential, out-of-state domestic travel for work purposes. Any campus-affiliated out-of-state travel must be approved by a supervisor. The MUS also urges campuses to minimize in-state travel whenever possible.