NewsMissoula County


UM will constantly track COVID cases and precautions daily

Seth Bodnar
Posted at 9:07 AM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 13:16:34-04

MISSOULA — The University of Montana is up and running with classes, using a combination of in-person and remote learning as it eases into fall with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

UM President Seth Bodnar says monitoring precautions, and active cases will continue to be a daily occurrence.

It didn't take long after the resumption of classes before the University of Montana had its first case of a faculty member testing positive for the coronavirus, when a teacher in the School of Theater and Dance was quarantined this past week.

“We’re prepared for the reality that, there have been and will be positive cases on this campus and our goal is really to manage those cases to prevent uncontrolled spread on this campus or in the community," Bodnar said.

In fact, Bodnar says the response followed the initial guidelines established last spring. During his pre-recorded "State of the University" address last week, Bodnar thanked the UM community for helping establish those guidelines, and plans for operating this fall, a plan that includes extensive COVID-19 tracking.

“It's a daily process. We have a coronavirus response team that meets daily and looks at a whole host of fact looks at city, county public health factors. Looks at operational capacity, considerations of the campus meeting," Bodnar said.

"You know what is our status? What percent of our quarantine or isolation spaces on campus is utilized? You know, how are we doing for things like our ability for custodial staff to effectively clean campus? How are we doing with things like PPE and disinfecting supplies? We're looking at those things daily in conjunction with City-County Public Health," he added.

MTN News asked Bodnar if there was a certain "trigger point" that could send UM back into a full shutdown, and he explained there's a complex of factors, and responses being used.

“You know, it's not that there's one trigger that flips us back to the operational posture that we were in back in the spring. You know, there are intermediate steps and we may over the course of the semester have to dial up or dial back certain things," said Bodnar.