BOZEMAN — Montana State University released a massive document on Wednesday morning, detailing a plan to help bring students back to campus this fall.
“Safety and the health of our faculty, our staff, our students, that’s our foremost concern,” said Michael Becker, MSU News Service director.
Aside from Montana Hall’s hourly tolls and the construction of new classrooms, MSU has been quiet -- but not for much longer.
“We have seen many changes come to our campus over the course of this year so far,” Becker said. “Keeping people about six feet apart is one of the tools that we have in our tool chest to help stem the spread of the virus so when they come back to the classroom, they are going to see that social distancing in place.”
People returning to campus this fall, students included, are going to see a lot of adaptations to mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Classes will be broken down into four learning models: in-person, virtual, blended (or a mix of the two) and online.
“All of the decisions that we are making are made in line with the best advice we can get from public health officials, from folks here at the county level, the campus level, the state level and even from the CDC,” Becker explained.
While masks won’t be required, at least in most circumstances, they will be “strongly recommended” as social distance will play a heavy role throughout the entire campus down to the doorknobs. As for the seating arrangements, they will have adjustments made as well.
“Rearranged chairs, rearranged furniture, differing schedules for where they are having their classes, a lengthened academic day that begins a little bit earlier, runs a little bit later to help accommodate some of those changes as we deal with the reduced space that social distancing necessarily brings with it,” Becker says.
Each person -- from staff to students -- will get a "Clean Cat Kit." “These are little kits that we are giving out that are going to contain hand sanitizer, disinfectant, some wipes and a mask,” Becker said.
According to MSU’s budget, the campus relies on about 45% of the tuition received from out-of-state students. So for that reason and more than 16,500 others, officials aim to make the return to campus a safe one the first time.
“We don’t have all of the answers,” Becker says. “No document, no plan like this has ever held up in the face of real-life 100-percent, right. We want to have the flexibility and be adaptable enough to meet whatever demands come up and should a public health situation arise this fall, we want to be prepared to respond to that, as well.”
The fall semester is starting earlier than usual on Aug. 17 and ends on Nov. 25.
Click here to take a look at the MSU Roadmap to Fall 2020, which has much more detailing athletics, foot traffic, online resources and more.