Montana State University joins coronavirus conversation

Posted at 9:42 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 11:42:57-05

BOZEMAN — Montana State University has begun making preparations for a possible coronavirus outbreak.

University administrators met to talk about what they need to do to prepare and how to communicate this information with students earlier this week.

MSU is home to more than 16,000 students and wants to keep everyone safe.

"What we're doing is taking a look at this disease and its spread in real-time and attempting to use that information to provide the best information we can to our campus community, our travelers abroad and everybody else," explained MSU spokesman Michael Becker.

Students say the school has been very open and transparent about the virus and what they're doing in response to it.

“I’ve gotten emails every probably three days,” said student Lucy Hanacek.

“The emails are mostly about giving updates, about there’s not any reported cases here, but just being aware of it,” added student Sarah Vreeman.

Becker says the emails communicate basic information to the students.

“Very common sense preparation for keeping yourself healthy. The same situations you would prepare yourself for a flu situation are what you want to do for this situation," he said.

While the risk on campus is low, MSU does have students studying abroad in high-risk countries.

“No programs have been canceled. Some have been affected. We do have a group of students who are traveling in Italy right now, and they have had to alter their itinerary based on health concerns in that country and one student in South Korea has had a program canceled and is making arrangements to come home,” Becker said.

But when those students come home. It's out of MSU's control.

“When those students return to the United States, they’re going to be following the rules set forth by U.S. immigration and the CDC for what they’ll have to do as far as isolating themselves and watching for symptoms,” said Becker.

The school says it will continue communicating with the CDC and other national and local health departments.