Some Montana Tech staff say campus COVID-19 safety policy doesn't go far enough

Montana Tech masks
Orediggers COVID-19 sign
Posted at 11:26 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 13:26:56-04

BUTTE — Some staff members on the campus of Montana Tech are concerned the administration’s personal responsibility policy in taking precautions against COVID-19 is not working.

“We have a problem. The administration's response to encourage people to get vaccinated and to wear a mask just is not working,” said Montana Tech Professor John Ray.

The Butte Health Department recently reported that 21 students or staff members tested positive for COVID-19 since classes began on Aug. 23.

Montana Tech masks

Citing recent state law that nullifies mask mandates, Montana Tech has not required masks to be worn indoors. The university does strongly encourage students to wear masks and get vaccinated.

Some staff believes Montana Tech should have a mask mandate.

“The University of Montana in Missoula, MSU in Bozeman have done that, the Butte schools have done, other school boards in the state have done it. Why can’t Tech do it?” - Montana Tech Professor John Ray

Some students say they feel safe and like having a personal choice.

“More people are vaccinated, people who want to wear masks should be allowed to wear masks, no judgment, and people who don’t want to wear masks should be allowed to not wear them with no judgment,” said Montana Tech student Montana Rice.

Ray provided a memo to staff from the administration that says, "If this continues and cases continue to rise, we will have to consider more strict policies such as requiring masks indoors or even returning to remote learning."

Orediggers COVID-19 sign

Some students said they like the social atmosphere and the in-person class experience and they would not want to go back to remote learning.

“In-person is way better, I learn way better and my professors help me out so much, and I feel like if we were online, they wouldn’t be able to help me out as much,” said student Natalia Lagunas.