The following message was sent on March 15, 2020, to faculty, staff and students regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

MUST READ: COVID-19 Afternoon Update Sent on Behalf of Chancellor Weatherby

In response to the news Saturday evening that two individuals who attended the Board of Regents Meeting on our campus March 4-6 tested presumptively positive for COVID-19, Montana Western is working with the Office of the Commissioner, the Governor’s Office, and public health officials to continually assess the situation on campus.

State health officials have provided the following assessment and direction to local public health officials:

There has been concern that two individuals who were at the Board of Regents meeting tested positive to COVID-19.  With the current information we now have from our local public health partners who have contacted and interviewed the patients, it is clear that these individuals were not symptomatic at the time of the meeting.  These individuals started to show symptoms days after the meeting.  By the current CDC recommendations, no one at the Board of Regents meeting would be considered a contact and do not need to be quarantined.  However, this is a very dynamic situation, and we are learning more and more about this virus every day.

Therefore, under an abundance of precaution, we are asking each of the members who attended the Board of Regents meeting to self-quarantine through March 20th.  As we are learning more, we will be communicating with those who participated in the meeting.  In the event of any additional cases, these recommendations may be modified.

In light of this assessment, Montana Western will proceed as noted in our earlier communications. We will resume classes via remote delivery March 23. Students may choose to return to the residence halls this week, if they wish.

Those who spent significant time at the Board of Regents meeting in the STC Great Room should self-quarantine. Those include the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Dean of Students, Director of Communications, Foundation Director, the Dean of the School of Outreach, the ITS-Computer Technician, the Faculty Senate President, and Associated Students of University of Montana Western (ASUMW) leaders. Our local public health officials have advised that family or household members do not need to be added to quarantine.

If you are not included in the list above and believe that you should self-quarantine, please contact your supervisor as soon as possible to discuss it. All of these individuals will be available via email. Chancellor Weatherby will call phone conference meetings of the Cabinet to continue monitoring and responding to the situation.

Again, this situation has changed quickly and dramatically. We will be sending out more information, so please check your university email frequently and visit our Health Advisories and Updates webpage for the latest updates: https://www.umwestern.edu/section/health-advisories/

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