The following message was sent on March 12, 2020, to students, faculty and staff regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

To the University Community,

The administration, staff and faculty of the University of Montana Western are working together to maintain educational continuity for our students while taking prudent measures in relation to the global COVID-19 outbreak.

As we continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation in coordination with the Offices of the Governor and the Commissioner of Higher Education , we will be taking the following steps to help protect all members of our campus community.

CLASSES

As you know, Block 7 was scheduled to resume on Monday, March 16. In order to allow our faculty to prepare to transition all courses to remote delivery, classes will resume online on Monday, March 23.      

Following the guidelines from the CDC and social distancing protocols, we are encouraging our students to remain off-campus, if at all possible, to take their courses for the rest of the semester. Our campus will  be open to provide key services like computer labs, dining services, library access, technology support, and business services, but we are trying to limit the number of student gatherings as much as possible to limit the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.

If you live in the residence halls and don’t have other housing options, we welcome you back. You must check in at the Residence Hall front desk when you arrive so that we can make sure you have everything you need.

Please check your university email every day to make sure you receive updates that we will send on a continuous basis and for communication from your course instructors.We realize that this shift can be a dramatic change, but we want to do everything we can to make sure you stay healthy and safe. Please find below the new schedule for Blocks 7 and 8. You’ll notice that we have removed two block breaks to accommodate for the extension of spring break.

Block 7 Dates:

  • Start: March 23
  • End: April 10

Block Break:

  • April 11-14

Block 8 Dates:

  • Start: April 15
  • End: May 6

Deb Hedeen, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, in collaboration with Justin Mason, Montana Western Director of eLearning, will provide additional support to faculty to assist with the transition and training for all course instructors in relation to Moodle, teleconferencing, and best practices for remote course delivery. Be on the lookout for invitations to workshops and more information coming soon.

Work Study

If you are a work study student, you will still continue to work, but please contact your supervisor to go over your upcoming work schedules.

Returning from Spring Break

Upon your return from spring break, if you become ill and are in the Dillon area:

  • If you have visited an area with a travel advisory that had a Travel Advisory Level 4 at any point during your travels, please immediately notify UMW Dean of Students, Nicole Hazelbaker, by calling 406-683-7900 during regular business hours or after hours by calling 406-925-9782 for further instruction.
  • If you visited an area affected by COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days after you left, please call your health clinic or other provider immediately to discuss your illness and plan for how you will be seen. Do not go directly to your clinic or other healthcare provider without calling first.

If you become ill wherever you are:

  • If you visited an area affected by COVID-19 and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, within 14 days after you left, please call your health clinic or other provider immediately to discuss your illness and plan for how you will be seen. Do not go directly to your clinic or other healthcare provider without calling first.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not return to class or work.
  • Do not travel on public transportation.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Events

For the remainder of the spring semester, we are suspending all University- sponsored/funded events with large groups of people. For questions about events, please email roxanne.engellant@umwestern.edu or call 406-683-7305.

We will continue to monitor athletic activities, practices, and competitions in coordination with the NAIA and other member institutions. Athletic practices will be suspended until further notice and the Bulldog Athletic and Recreational Center (BARC) will be closed to any recreational activity. For questions about athletics, call Bill Wilson at 406-683-7391.

Activities

All student club and wellness activities and travel are suspended until further notice.

Meetings

All member of the campus community should consider conducting meetings virtually whenever possible. For assistance with meeting technology, call the IT Help Desk at 406-683-7777.

For Faculty, Staff, and Operations

In coordination with OCHE, we are continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation and will make alternative work arrangements for faculty and staff as needed in consultation with County Health Services and CDC recommendations.

Travel:

We have cancelled any university sponsored international travel until further notice. Other university-sponsored travel will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Students at off campus sites:

Students who are attending Montana Western classes at locations outside of Dillon will receive further instructions.

Counseling Services:

Our licensed counselors are here to help! Please contact either Jerry Girard at 406-683-7181, (jerry.girard@umwestern.edu) or Heidi Gjefle at 406-683-7180, (heidi.gjefle@umwestern.edu) to schedule an eCounseling appointment that you can attend over your mobile device or computer, no matter where you are. We’re here to help during this stressful time.

For more information:

Online:

Please visit our health advisories webpage for the latest updates, COVID-19 FAQ and more: https://www.umwestern.edu/section/health-advisories/

Phone:

For questions from students or their families call: 406-683-7900
For questions from employees call: 406-683-7031
For questions from faculty call: 406-683-7115

Thank you for your flexibility, understanding, and patience as we work together to manage the challenges of COVID-19. Remember The best defense against any virus is good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene. Please help us keep our campus safe: Cover your Cough, Stay Home if you’re sick and Wash Your Hands. As the CDC notes, everyone has a role to play in getting ready and staying healthy.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Beth Weatherby