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MSU moves classes to online amidst coronavirus concern

Change will begin after spring break
Posted at 3:22 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 17:23:00-04

BOZEMAN — It’s a move that MSU Communications Vice President Tracy Ellig says is a process so large scale that it has never been done before.

"This is an unprecedented time we're facing — not just in Montana but in the world,” Ellig said.

It’s an announcement that goes far beyond Montana State University.

According to Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian, all Montana University System (MUS) campuses will make one of the largest switches the system has ever seen.

"All of our instruction will be offered online."

Emails, sent to faculty, staff, instructors, even parents, were sent earlier this week. To Ellig, it’s no small task.

"This is a big thing to do all at once,” Ellig said. “We are really appealing to the students, faculty, staff, parents, please have some patience with us."

According to the release, as of Monday, March 23, “in every instance possible,” all teaching methods that require students to go to class will have to switch to remote ways of doing so.

Also, all MUS campuses like Montana State University will have to start following “social distancing measures” that follow CDC guidelines, such as staying a meter apart from others.

Ellig says students who go home for spring break don’t have to come back as long as they can do their work from home.

He adds even for the MSU Communications department, staying out in front of such a complex situation has been something new.

"The information is still out there in terms of what students and parents' reactions to that are,” Ellig said. “This news is so fresh, I don't think we have intel about that."

Students traveling abroad who have to self-quarantine, like Carlos Palmer in Italy, will have to follow the same guidelines out of precaution, yet, as Ellig says, continuing education.

"We really want students to be able to complete their course work this semester,” Ellig said. “I mean, they've already put in a lot of effort so far and we want to get those credits done."

And as this situation develops from campus to home, Ellig says MSU feels the eyes of concerned parents, wanting to know what will happen next.

“We understand that a lot of people are watching what we are doing and we are trying to get out information as quickly and with as much clarity as we can,” Ellig said.

If students do return to campus after spring break, dorms and the dining areas on campus will be open for them.