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MSUB announces plan for resuming fall classes on campus

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Posted at 8:55 AM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 20:01:44-04

BILLINGS - Montana State University Billings on Wednesday released its plan for resuming fall semester classes on campus.

The plan includes specific guidelines for social distancing, cleaning protocols and other measures at both the MSUB and City College campuses to reduce the risk of students and staff exposure to COVID-19.

“This plan is the result of months of research and hard work from local and state public health officials and the MSUB Back-to-Business Task Force,” Provost Melinda Arnold said in a press release. “We also solicited campus community feedback to ensure this plan was vetted and supported by all.”

The MSUB fall semester begins Aug. 19 and ends Nov. 25.

RELATED: MSU Billings classes to remain online for rest of spring semester

The plan includes these guidelines and protocols:

Social Distancing will be strongly encouraged whenever possible. MSUB will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on maintaining six-feet distance [cdc.gov] between individuals.

  • Mask-wearing is strongly encouraged for all students, faculty, and staff while on campus, even when social distancing is possible. In situations and circumstances where social distancing is not possible, mask-wearing is expected. This policy is subject to change pending the forthcoming mask policy from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and subsequent Board of Regents action.
    • All members and visitors of the university and City College campus will be expected to implement and monitor their own health and safety behaviors which will require the cooperation of all.
  • Hand-hygiene is strongly encouraged. Students, faculty, and staff should utilize safe hand-washing practices and use hand sanitizer whenever possible per the CDC guidelines [cdc.gov]. Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout both campuses.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 and self-monitoring: Students, faculty, and staff familiarity with symptoms of COVID-19 is key to help reduce spread of the virus. All campus community members should become familiar with the symptoms [cdc.gov] described by the CDC and to self-monitor daily [cdc.gov].
    • MSUB strongly encourages every member of campus community to assess themselves for symptoms and to personally check their temperature daily before coming to campus. Individuals who have a fever or exhibit symptoms should not come to work or class and should immediately contact their health care provider.
  • Public Health Testing & Contact Tracing protocols: MSUB has been in frequent communication with RiverStone Health [riverstonehealth.org] regarding monitoring, testing and tracing efforts as well as advised quarantine and isolation protocols, and will continue to follow the guidance from local, state, and federal health officials. RiverStone Health manages all instances of contact tracing when needed, as required by Montana law.
  • Enhanced campus cleaning and sanitizing protocols: Facilities Services will continue their regular cleaning activities throughout both campuses and enhance the disinfecting of public spaces including washrooms, classrooms, laboratories, hallways, hand rails, elevators, corridors, and common study spaces. Each department has been equipped with a “Cleaning Caddy” consisting of disinfecting wipes, spray, and hand sanitizer to ensure the proper and frequent disinfecting of offices and public spaces within each respective department. In addition, every student, faculty, and staff member will receive a personal safety kit containing:
      • 1 reusable disinfectant bottle, prefilled and labeled
      • 1 reusable personal face mask
      • 1 8-oz refillable bottle of hand sanitizer
      • Personal care and community safety information and instructions for product use
      • Carrying bag
  • Campus Events: Event occupancy is set at 50 percent for each venue on campus to allow for appropriate social distancing following the protocol set by the Governor for Phase 2. See the Student Engagement section for more information.

“The goal of our action plan is to provide steps for restoring full operations that protects the health and safety of our campus community,” Chancellor Dan Edelman said in the press release. “Due to the uncertain nature of the pandemic, our plan may need to shift accordingly, and we are ready to make any necessary updates or changes in order to continue to keep our students and employees safe.”

Health and safety protocols have been created for in-person classes. Comprehensive plans for individual classes such as configuration, seating charts, attendance policies, foot traffic, personal sanitization, etc., will be in place. Faculty will work with their students directly to ensure customized accommodations for those who require them are in place, as well as for students who must potentially self-isolate or quarantine.

The following protocols apply to all areas of academics:

  • Students will receive education during orientation emphasizing the health and safety expectations MSUB has of them while on university or City College campus.
  • Classroom occupancy will allow for social distancing. Disinfectants will be available in each classroom to wipe down desks and other high-traffic areas between classes.
  • All in-person classes will have assigned seating to ensure contact tracing if necessary. Attendance will be taken for contact tracing purposes.
  • Faculty will develop backup plans or partner with a “teaching buddy” who can take over their classes if they become ill.
  • Faculty have developed plans for each in-person class for fall semester to transition to online learning, if necessary.

Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton praised the plan.

“I have been impressed with the commitment of MSUB’s leadership to take steps to reduce risk while retaining the benefits of the on-campus college experience,” Felton said in the press release. “I can state with confidence that MSUB has taken intentional and reasonable efforts to reduce these risks while planning resumption of on-campus activities this fall.”

Read the full plan here: Montana State University Billings Back to Business Fall 2020 Action Plan