UM Prepares for Spring Semester 2021

UM student holds her phone while looking at the camera and wearing a mask

As the University of Montana begins spring semester 2021, we first recognize the tremendous efforts of our students, faculty and staff during the fall semester. Working together, we were able to keep COVID-19 transmission low on the campus, making it possible to complete the semester and enable degree completion for more than 800 students. Thank you for all your hard work, UM family.

UM's spring semester began Monday, Jan. 11. 

Upon returning to campus, students are asked to monitor themselves daily for symptoms, keep their social circles small and continue wearing masks, along with the other protective health practices. This will be especially important during the first two weeks when students return to campus from a variety of places. If at any time students feel ill, they develop symptoms or they want to discuss medical questions, Curry Health Center is ready to help. We will continue to offer free, rapid, point-of-care testing for symptomatic students, with results typically available within one hour. Students must call 406-243-2122 to make an appointment before coming in. 

As of Jan. 12, all UM students are invited to participate in free asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Participation is voluntary. Students who wish to participate in this testing must sign up for a time slot on Griz Hub. This test will be conducted using the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, which involves a self-administered nasal swab. Testing will be available through Friday, Jan. 22. Read more details about asymptomatic testing in the Jan. 12 email sent to all students.

UM has updated the Campus COVID Operations Plan to guide us through the spring, summer and beyond as necessary. Most updates to the plan were changes to dates and timelines, refreshing language based on new guidance or adding measures implemented during fall semester. The Healthy Fall 2020 site is still available to reference as needed.

The COVID Response Team, which continues to meet daily during the spring semester, has anticipated increased COVID-19 testing needs for returning (symptomatic) students. UM's Curry Health Center anticipates the ability to run 100 tests per day, and we have surge testing capacity within the UM Genomics Core and possibly with the Missoula City-County Health Department, depending on community testing demand.

UM and the Missoula City-County Health Department are closely tracking COVID-19 case trends at UM and in Missoula. The MCCHD is releasing information about UM-affiliated cases each day. Find health department information on UM-affiliated COVID-19 cases on this page under the "Data" tab.

We have reviewed our protocols for quarantine and isolation for students in campus housing and have added additional units for this purpose. UM is prepared to support campus residents immediately should they need quarantine and isolation due to COVID-19. Students can find a Quarantine and Isolation Checklist here. 

The Facilities Services team has reset learning spaces on campus, which includes configuring classrooms for consistent and reliable physical distancing (similar to fall semester). The team also refilled disinfectant wipe dispensers and disinfectant/hand sanitizer to refill bottles in Healthy Griz Kits.

Any student or employee who needs a Healthy Griz Kit can receive one from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, in the West Atrium of the University Center.

COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun in Missoula for residents in long-term care facilities and frontline health care workers. Curry Health Center is both a provider and distributor of COVID-19 vaccine, and will do so according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, specifically, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which established phases for vaccine distribution.

The Missoula City-County Health Department website has a helpful overview of vaccine distribution phases. Currently, only those individuals in Phase 1A are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For UM, this group includes Curry Health Center medical staff, students and employees gathering or analyzing COVID-19 test samples and students who are required to receive the vaccine to participate in clinical rotations.

Curry Health Center will be able to provide vaccine to students and employees and may expand to the greater community in coordination with MCCHD. We will provide additional updates about vaccine distribution as new information becomes available –particularly as we complete vaccination of individuals in Phase 1A.

We are so happy to have you back on campus for spring semester and very proud of the safe behaviors that our students and employees are practicing. Keep up the good work, Griz!