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University of Montana addressing coronavirus concerns as spring break approaches

Posted at 6:47 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 16:18:10-04

MISSOULA — University of Montana students will soon scatter across the country and beyond for spring break.

Meanwhile, UM administrators say they are doing everything they can to remind students to take precautions to avoid coronavirus.

"We're really trying to talk to them about safe practices such as hand-washing, and around close gatherings, sort of that social distancing piece, and really understand the current status of coronavirus in a state they may be visiting," University of Montana spokeswoman Paula Short said.

"But equally important, when they come back home and paying attention if they develop symptoms the things they are going to need to do to seek medical treatment an at the same time minimize the risk of passing that to others," she added.

Short told MTN News that UM has been working with other entities in the community, including the Missoula City-County Health Department and Missoula County Public Schools as they collect data.

"It's really important to be coordinated and be using the very best data to inform our decisions, and the university is certainly working hand-in-hand with our local partners and we will make a coordinated response to coronavirus in the event that it becomes prevalent in our community," she explained.

The University of Montana has already made several preemptive decisions for student groups traveling as a result of the rapid spread of the virus worldwide.

"We had a spring break trip -- in fact, that was scheduled to go next week to Hong Kong, Macao, and China. We canceled that due to the advisory. We've got some later -- students traveling to China -- that have been canceled as well," Short said.

She also wants to remind students who have had to cancel travel plans that the dorms and many other services will remain open on campus over spring break.

Additionally, Short says some professors are currently testing an online pilot program so students won't have to come into the classroom if UM officials feel that decision becomes necessary.