COVID-19 Coronavirus Campus Communications

Wash Your Hands!

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COVID-19 Coronavirus

Faculty/Staff Communications

 

 
Dear Montana Tech faculty and staff,

I wanted to let you know Montana Tech will follow the recommendation by Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian and start the fall semester one week earlier than planned. Most Montana University System campuses, as well as many others throughout the country, will return to campus sooner than initially expected to help reduce the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus. The first day of classes for the fall semester at Montana Tech will be Monday, August 17. This change to the academic calendar will allow the fall semester to conclude before Thanksgiving at 5:00 PM on Tuesday November 24.

This decision involved consultation and feedback from faculty and staff and results from a survey to all students. We realize the change in the fall schedule will require significant adjustments, accommodations, and potential hardship for everyone, but the nature of the pandemic requires us all to go above and beyond and do what is best for our university.

As you are aware, we are committed to the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community, and are working towards re-establishing some normalcy on campus. We pride ourselves on providing hands-on, experiential learning, and we know our students are eager to resume their education in-person and on-campus.

There are many things to work out before we bring students safely back to campus for the fall semester. Our COVID-19 planning team continues to work on processes and mitigation plans, hygiene measures, and protocols for a healthy and safe return to campus for students, and our faculty, and staff. This is a coordinated effort and will continue to involve local and state public health officials who are assisting us developing our plans as well as identifying effective protocols for testing and screening when we resume full face-to-face instruction in the fall. 

We know this change will raise a number of questions around exam schedules, orientation, fall commencement, registration and financial aid. We are working through these pieces and will communicate new information over the summer as it becomes available, but you can rest assured all on-campus services will be ready for the first day of classes on August 17. (This change will not affect students who have financial aid.)

Please keep these important dates in mind as you plan for the fall:

  • Monday, August 17, 2020 – First day of fall semester classes
  • Thursday, November 19, 2020 – Final exams commence
  • Tuesday, November 24, 2020 – Last day of final exams
  • TBD – Fall semester commencement

This academic calendar adjustment is for the fall semester only. We anticipate returning to the planned 16-week schedule in the spring with the first day of classes held on Monday, January 4, 2021.

We understand this change in the fall schedule comes with personal challenges for some of our students as well as some of you. However, as daunting as COVID-19 can be we have to move forward and this requires continued flexibility from all of us.

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through this together. We look forward to having our students back on campus and continuing to deliver an exceptional in-person educational experience.

Stay healthy and safe, and as always, please reach out if I can assist you.

Les

Les P. Cook, Ed.D.

 

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I hope you are staying well and have had a bit of a break between semesters. I wanted to check-in with you and provide an update about our phased plan to bring some sense of normalcy back to campus as well as provide a couple of additional updates.

As indicated in my last email to campus and the Advancing Montana Tech forum last week, we began the process of bringing our faculty and staff back to campus on Monday, May 4 to have with a goal of back to normal by the first day of summer classes, Tuesday, May 26. The expectation is that departments will continue to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, faculty, and campus guests. This may include staggering schedules where possible, allowing for some telework accommodations, and doing what is necessary to ensure departments are covered and the work gets done.

We have been in discussions with the Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and will ask that everyone adhere to the following best practices for the immediate future:

  • All employees are to gauge their own health, if feeling ill, do not come to work.
  • Faculty, staff, and students are to maintain the social distancing guideline of 6-feet at all times.
  • Masks are encouraged, although not required. In circumstances where a 6-foot distance is not practical, individuals should wear a face mask or covering. We have purchased face masks for faculty, staff, and students. When they arrive on campus, we will let you know.
  • For individual meetings, we encourage the use of Zoom or some other online technology. If not available, please ask those with whom you are meeting how they would like to meet.
  • The University will increase the frequency and sanitization of all high traffic/high touch areas as well as restroom facilities.
  • Additional hand sanitation units have been added throughout the campus.
  • Signage is being developed to remind the campus community and others to wash hands frequently, sneeze into their elbow, cover coughs, and self-monitor their health.
  • Reasonable accommodations will be made for employees with underlying health conditions that may make them or someone in their household, particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. These will be discussed and arranged through Human Resources.
  • For more information about protecting yourself and others refer to the CDC Recommendations.

The bookstore is currently open and the HPER will reopen on Monday, May 18. All research operations will also transition to level one beginning on May 18. The library and museum will be open beginning May 26. All buildings will also be open along with a limited number of computer labs.

I ask for your continued patience and understanding as we move forward. We can’t predict the future, but we can certainly be prepared to handle almost anything that comes at us, we’ve already proven this.

In addition to our reopening, I’d like to invite everyone to participate in our annual “Plant In” on Thursday, June 4 from 9-11 followed by a campus barbecue. We will ensure that we practice social distancing while we enjoy each other’s company to spruce up the campus and enjoy lunch after. Stay tuned, more information will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone of the information technology electrical upgrade taking place next week. The switch replacement is long overdue and is critically important to Montana Tech going forward. All access to the campus network, phones, and the data center will be unavailable from Wednesday, May 20 at 8:00 am until Tuesday, May 26 at 7:00 am. Your patience during this time is appreciated.

Thanks and as always, please reach out if you have questions.

Les

 

Dear staff and faculty,

As the semester draws to a close, I wanted to reach out again to offer my gratitude, not only for the extraordinary display of commitment and endurance the past six weeks, but for your patience and

confidence in me since my arrival last July. While the year didn’t end how I hoped, I believe together we made good progress and will be even better in the days ahead.

Last week, Montana Governor Bullock announced plans for a phased plan to reopen the State gradually. Commissioner Christian followed suit with guidance to campuses for developing staffing strategies to align with the governor’s directive. In addition, Butte-Silver Bow will follow much of the Governor’s phase one plan and will re-open with guidelines.

On our campus, beginning Monday, May 4, we will take Commissioner Christians counsel and will begin the process to bring  our staff and faculty back to campus. All departments are asked to execute plans for gradually resuming on-campus staffing in a way that continues to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors. We will encourage all supervisors to work with their staff and consider staggering schedules while maintaining social distancing. As we have done all along, we will continue to ask that everyone self-monitor their health and stay home if they have any signs of illness.

In addition to this, I am serving on the MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force, a group appointed by the Commissioner’s Office charged with determining how all campuses can return to in person instruction

in fall 2020 and deliver a great academic and student life experience with a moderate level of risk. Our task force will meet over the next three weeks and will deliver a plan to Commissioner Christian

and the Board of Regents by the May 20-21 Board of Regents Meeting. Through our work, we hope to develop procedures for in-person instruction and on-campus student life to fully resume for the fall semester.

As we go forward, it is important that we all realize the scope of what lies ahead. Covid-19 is a challenge that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon; however, with protective measures and following the guidance from the Governor’s office, OCHE,  and the  health department, I am confident we can make progress. Our students enroll at Montana Tech because of the quality of the experience, hands-on learning and interaction with others. While our efforts to move online were extraordinary, this is not what students signed up for. When classes resume, we will continue to maintain a safe working environment, but the expectation is that we will all be on campus.

No one knows what the new normal may look like for us but I can assure you we will do our best as we reinvent it. Because of Covid-19, there will undoubtedly be other challenges and hard decisions that will have to be made. This year we have been intensely focused on enrollment, student success, messaging, and our campus environment. While we have made progress with enrollment, no one could have predicted we would be faced with a worldwide pandemic. Moving into the FY21 budget cycle with uncertainty in enrollment, it is clear we will have to make programmatic and staffing decisions to position the university for stability.

On Tuesday, May 5 from the 3-4:30, I hope you will join the Executive Team and the chairs of each of our four campus teams for our final Advancing Montana Tech Forum. Via Zoom, we will provide a brief campus update and the chairs of the recruiting, student success, marketing, and campus refresh teams will highlight the work and recommendations of their teams over the course of the past six months. Click here to join the zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/541525863 (meeting ID: 541 525 863)

Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that next Monday, May 4th, we will begin summer hours. All departments with the exception of Enrollment Services, Personnel/Payroll/Purchasing and the Business Office will be open from 7:30-4:00 PM daily. The aforementioned are open until 5:00 PM year-round. 

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and ability to adapt. The past 6-7 weeks have clearly been uncomfortable space and a new environment for all of us. As the Governor has stated, the sacrifices that have been made have flattened the curve and I know this has come at a high cost as well as anxiety for everyone. We all need to act like our loved one’s lives depend on our actions, because they do.

With gratitude,

Les

 

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I hope you are doing okay despite the craziness of the past few weeks. Campus certainly has a strange feel to it but I guess we can find comfort in the fact that nearly every campus across the country feels similarly right now.

Since we are not having our Advancing Montana Tech Forum that was originally scheduled for this afternoon, I thought I would provide you a few updates via email.

First and foremost, I’d like to share with you that Karen Vandaveer, Interim Dean for the College of Letters, Sciences and Professional Studies has agreed to remain in the Interim Dean role for the year ahead through June 30, 2021. As you may know we were in the middle of a search when all hiring was postponed due to the COVID19 pandemic. Over the course of the past month I have had the opportunity to work closely with all of our deans and Karen has been extraordinary. Given the unsettling nature of our current environment keeping Karen in this role is a plus for Montana Tech. Please join me in thanking Karen for her continued willingness to serve in this role.

In addition, I want to share the Executive Team has made the difficult, but responsible decision to postpone our Spring Awards Ceremony, which was to be held on Thursday, April 16th. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be gathering as planned to celebrate our retirees, award winners, and the length of service awards. Our retirees and award winners will be recognized and announced in an email to campus prior to the conclusion of the academic year and awards will be presented at the celebratory gathering which is yet to be determined. We will recognize all awardees at this time, including Length of Service Awardees.

We have rescheduled our next Advancing Montana Tech Forum for Tuesday May 5 from 3-4:30. The agenda will include a year-end update as well as briefings from each of the teams that were organized in October. Over the course of the last 6 months nearly sixty members of campus have been involved with these endeavors focused on recruitment, student success, marketing/messaging and our campus environment. I hope you will mark this on your calendar and plan to zoom in with us.

Next week we will have a virtual “DiggerCon” event for newly admitted students as well as a virtual Techxpo. While neither of these events will occur in-person, it is important that we remind ourselves that these connections are critically important to our students. It is essential that ALL OF US continue to reach out to our students and make sure they are doing okay, that they have their classes scheduled for fall and most importantly, they know we care about them.

As we travel this journey together, please know I continue to be grateful for each and every one of you and your commitment to Montana Tech and our students in these unnerving times.

Thank you.

Les

 

Good morning faculty and staff,

Thank you for another week of dedicated and true Oredigger spirit. I’m so proud and honored to see how you all have risen to the occasion as we work through this situation.

I am pleased to welcome provost Steve Gammon back to campus. He is feeling much better, and we are glad to have him back. The most important thing right now is to know that we are strong because of the community we are a part of. I encourage you to reach out if you need anything at all. One of the best ways to make sure our students are having a good experience is to ensure that we also take care of ourselves. Cricket Pietsch and Cathy Isakson have teamed up to create an informative Self-Care guide for employees. I have attached the guide to this email. You can also check out Greater Good Magazine, which uses science-based insight for a meaningful life.

As you may have heard a group of faculty/staff and the Faculty Senate have been working on a plan to provide our students with an alternative grading structure for the spring 2020 semester. The Complete Credit/Credit/No Credit grading mechanism will be available for all courses taken for undergraduate credit. Once grades are available to students, if a student feels that a course(s) grade negatively impacts their GPA, they can elect to transition one or more select courses to the alternative which offers a three-tiered system (parallel in function but no associated grade point). This system is supported by the accrediting bodies and has been vetted by all major areas of campus. Ultimately the goal is to minimize the impact that a given grade may have on a student’s GPA while allowing faculty to provide grades that are reflective of the student’s performance. I have attached the policy or you can find out more information here under the heading Alternate Grades. Faculty will be receiving more information about this soon.

I did want you all to know that with the suspension of all campus events and activities, we will be transitioning to a virtual Techxpo event this year. Students involved have already received an email with details about this year’s event. In addition, we received notification from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education this week that all Montana Universities will not hold in-person commencement ceremonies this spring. While we won’t have an in-person ceremony, we understand the importance of celebrating this milestone in the lives of our students. We are in the midst of surveying our graduates to determine what type of ceremony they would like this May or even into the fall. I am committed to making sure this event is special for us all.

As we look ahead to the summer we have taken the conservative and most realistic approach and will be continuing online with our summer courses. There may be a few that require fieldwork, in those instances some accommodation will possibly be made so these courses can continue.

Finally, as you all are aware, when the Orediggers are victorious our beloved “M” changes to “V” signifying a victory. Beginning tonight the M will flash “V” as a gentle reminder to believe in the strength of our community and better days ahead.

We’re two weeks into being 100% online and I remain grateful for all that everyone has done to help us be in this uncharted space.

Take good care and stay healthy,

Les

 

Dear Montana Tech faculty and staff,

By now, you have heard that Governor Steve Bullock issued a stay at home order for Montana to begin at 12:01 am on Saturday, March 28, until April 10. Under the order, you are allowed to leave home for necessities such as food or medical care, along with a few other exceptions.

As I shared earlier, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education has provided additional clarification for colleges/universities within the Montana University System. Our campus will remain open and continue to deliver education and provide essential services to our students. The offices and departments to remain open will be admissions, counseling services, dining services, enrollment services, financial aid, human resources, payroll, physical facilities, residence halls, and security. We encourage supervisors to explore alternate work scheduling or accommodate other reasonable requests to meet the needs of employees during this time.

It's still hard to believe how much things have changed in the past two weeks. I want to thank everyone for rising above the uncertainty of this situation to help not only our students but each other. I especially want to recognize our faculty for working around the clock to prepare and deliver your classes online. It appears that most things are working out, and we're hopeful there is little disruption to these modes of delivery as we go forward. In the event you cannot deliver your class at home, you can come onto campus, but please abide by social distancing and do not interact with anyone on campus.

I want to ask EVERYONE to please check in on our students. Many of them have indicated that they have heard little from campus. It's important they hear from us, and please respond promptly if a student emails or calls you. I know it's a stressful time, but students are anxious to hear from their faculty, advisors, coaches, mentors, supervisors, etc. If you have not done so, please reach out.

Thank you for everything you are doing for the safety of our campus community as we continue to remain open to our students. This situation is fluid, and as we know more, we will email and update the operations page on our website.

As I think back on this week, I remain grateful for all of you and am pleased to report some positive news. Our Montana Tech students who were stuck in Peru with Baptist Student Union pastor, Mark Arbaugh, are back in the United States. We received word this morning they landed in Washington DC and are happy to hear they are almost home. I would also like you to know our north and south campus will be loaning 15 hospital beds, IV pumps, automatic BP machines, and an ECG machine to St. James Healthcare. The equipment is on loan from the nursing department and the Highlands College health programs. The campus has also come together to gather personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to our medical professionals in the community. We also just received some exciting news! Kathryn Bozer, a junior in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, was named a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholar. Thank you to the National Student Award Committee for your hard work with the nominating process. 

Thank you for your understanding as we all work through this evolving situation together.

Stay healthy,

Les 

 

Good morning Faculty and staff,

As you know, Governor Bullock issued a “stay at home directive” yesterday afternoon. The following is clarification that we received from OCHE.

RELEASE: Governor Bullock Issues Stay at Home Directive to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

... on the impact of this Governor’s order that takes effect Friday night at midnight and runs through April 10 ...

From a MUS workforce standpoint, this means that core essential campus functions are still open for business. No change there from what you have been doing. Many of you still have a number of students who need services on campus. We have facilities and networks and systems that need to be maintained. Campus CEO’s are authorized to identify and staff such core services and identify work areas where telework is allowed or encouraged by you in your best judgment. The six-feet distancing in the workplace shall be maintained. 

From a student services standpoint, students are subject to the same expectations for maintaining six-feet distancing where possible and certainly in the campus settings where services are provided (e.g., in any auxiliary service settings or in the rare academic / lab settings that are not being delivered remotely).

Thank you for all that you have done to move us to 100% online for course/lab delivery this week. Stay tuned, we will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Les

 

Good morning Faculty and Staff,

I wanted to thank you for your efforts delivering online education and making sure we continue to provide core services to our campus.  Thank you for all your amazing work.

Many of you have reached out to us about events and activities on campus, especially Techxpo and commencement. As I shared last week, all events and activities are suspended until further notice. Decisions about campus commencement ceremonies will be coordinated through the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education as a statewide university system. Rest assured that, as soon as we receive pertinent information, we will share it immediately.

I wanted to let you know we do have a team of staff and faculty working on several  ideas and initiatives to assist us in reinventing some of our campus events and activities for both prospective and current students. This group will be vital in helping us to keep the energy of Tech alive while also helping us to be intentional and encouraging in our messaging and planning. These are opportunistic times and with everyone’s help, I think we can survive and quite possibly do better than our peers due to our size and the nature of the education we provide.

We continue to make efforts to minimize the footprint of campus and have moved three additional buildings offline. These include Science & Engineering, Engineering Hall, and the University Relations Center. Others previously closed include the Mill, HPER, HSB, HPER, Library, Mill, and the NRRC. If you are located in one of these spaces, my guess is you have a key and can get in. If not, please reach out to Campus Security and they can provide you access.

 

Some on-campus resources for you:

This continues to be a stressful time for us all. However, while these times are unnerving, we must manage our stress and anxiety. I would encourage you to visit the CDC’s resources on anxiety and stress and check out the EAP Support: COVID-19 Resources sent out by Human Resources.

I am grateful for your continued understanding, compassion and flexibility. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can assist you in any way.

Stay well.

Les

 

Good morning students, faculty and staff,

This morning all of us are embarking on a new day and one that will likely be somewhat of an adventure as we move to 100% online delivery. Who would have known two weeks ago this would be the case as everyone returns for the final weeks of our semester?

To all of you, I want to say thanks. These are unnerving times and your continued patience, flexibility and willingness to do whatever we need to do to make it work has been extraordinary. As we kick into online mode, we know things aren’t going to be perfect and it’s important we all remember this. Additionally, we must remember  that we are all Orediggers, we’re resilient, we can be agile and forgiving and most importantly, we care about one another.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, another member of the Butte-Silver Bow community has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. The reality is there will be more cases in the immediate future and I can’t emphasize enough how much we need your help. Your health and well-being continue to be the utmost importance. Please remember the following:

  • If you traveled internationally over spring break, Governor Bullock has asked that you self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return.
  • If you aren’t feeling well or believe you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19 (runny nose, fever, cough, etc.) please stay home and contact your health provider.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, please closely monitor your health and pay attention to any changes in how you’re feeling.
  • ALL of us, regardless of our situation need to practice social distancing as well as continued good hygiene. You can rest assure that those of us on campus will be practicing this by using Zoom or other technologies to avoid in-person interaction.

As a reminder for those of you remaining on campus that need computer lab access, the following labs are available for your use:

  • xELC 315 (with dual monitors)
  • Main 205
  • MG 102 (with dual monitors)
  • MUS 101 (12 machines with dual monitors)
  • NRB 228
  • CBB 001

We will monitor usage over the next week or so and quite possibly take more of these off-line once we know which labs are utilized most.

To minimize traffic and assist our facilities team, the following buildings are closed for the remainder of the semester: The Mill, Engineering Hall, Natural Resources Research Center, Library, and HPER. 

The days ahead are bound to be interesting, but I know we will persevere. While the present is undoubtedly troubling, I think there is much to learn and be gained from this experience. Spend a half hour watching the news or some time on social media and you will undoubtedly see all of the good that is already occurring.

Today is a new day for Montana Tech and in so many ways one that I know may be tough. Not having students in our classrooms, the dining hall or satisfying your curiosity in a research lab feels strange for all of us, but let’s use this opportunity to embrace technology like its never been embraced before. Let’s also use this time to embrace our friends and loved ones, the outdoors, a good book, a new hobby or the space to simply reflect.

Thank you and welcome back. I look forward to the success we will create together.

Les

 

Dear campus,

In order to keep everyone healthy and safe, Montana Tech is requiring any employee, who has returned from international travel to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work.  Please note that the CDC and Montana Tech does not require self-quarantine for employees who traveled within the United States. However, if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 during your domestic travels, it is recommended that you self–quarantine for 14 days as well. If during that time you develop symptoms, please contact your health provider for further guidance. Employees who must self-quarantine should contact their supervisor and consult with HR regarding their options during self-quarantine.

Montana Tech and the Montana University System understand the stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Many of you are concerned on how it will affect you and your loved ones financially if you were to become sick and unable to work for an extended period, due to the outbreak.  In order to help alleviate these concerns, the Montana University System will provide a new “Paid COVID-19 Leave” for up to 30 calendar days in certain situations. In addition, the federal government has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that provides public sector employees (including the Montana University System) with paid leave for workers impacted by the outbreak.

Learn more about the State of Montana Paid COVID-19 Leave and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

We encourage all of you to visit our website for campus operational updates.

Thanks for everything you do,

Vanessa

 

As I write this email after a constantly changing week, I’m not sure where the week has gone, I’m sure many of you feel similarly. I look back and think about the amazing team we have in each and every department. While we can’t change the situation, we can change how we respond and that we have certainly done. Everyone has risen to the occasion in every aspect from bringing course and labs 100% online to spending all of our meetings in Zoom. What felt uncomfortable for many of us on Monday, almost feels normal today.

I am incredibly grateful to the entire campus, but I do want to extend a shout out to our Covid-19 planning team as well as our deans. They have been remarkable in helping us to navigate in a constantly changing environment.

As a result of our meetings today, we do have a few updates to share before the weekend:

  1. The Bookstore and HPER will remain closed. We will also be closing the Library. Students and/or faculty/staff can continue to get assistance or materials if you need them. Contact information is on the Covid-19 site.
  2. Specific computer labs will be identified for student use.
  3. We will also be working to close down low traffic buildings for the time being. These will include the Mill, Engineering Hall, Natural Resources Research Center, Library, and HPER.

All paychecks will now be mailed. Visit Cyberbear to verify your mailing address on file.

I know our work will continue over the next few weeks, but for now, please have a restful weekend. I hope you will take time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, help others, and find time for yourselves. These are undoubtedly unsettling times, but we seldom have time to pause, call a friend, or check-in on a loved one. Let’s embrace it, think about how we can make the rest of the semester a memorable one for those who will be connected from afar and continue to come together to build upon all that makes Montana Tech what it is today.

In gratitude,
Les

 

Dear faculty and staff,

I want to thank all of you for stepping up and helping with whatever is needed across campus as we work together on this evolving situation. The support and your  “can do” attitude is nothing short of amazing. Thank you!

I want you to know that our facilities team has been deep cleaning our campus--disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces in classrooms, labs, restrooms, hallways, and other public areas. They have also been dusting horizontal surfaces, cleaning wall spots, cleaning exteriors of trash receptacles, removing bugs and debris from light fixtures, edge vacuuming and cleaning edges of hard surface floors. These will be ongoing activities that will continue into the next few weeks, in addition to regular cleaning activities. Their next step, after buildings are sanitized, will be to begin restorative floor cleaning.

We want you to know that many campus services will be limited, moving forward, and all campus events and activities are suspended until further notice. We will continue to update our COVID-19 webpage with information and have created a page dedicated to operations on campus. Please check these frequently.

Please remember that there are things we can all control and things we can’t. Thanks for your positive attitude, kindness, helping each other out and keeping your distance. As Orediggers we will do our best and continue to shine.

Be well,
Les

 

Good morning Staff & Faculty,

I am forwarding you the email that was sent to our students yesterday. It’s important as we communicate with the campus that we do our best to craft the message specific to each audience. That said, I believe it is valuable that all of you know what we shared with our students.

The most important points are as follows:

  • Classes and labs will all be 100% online beginning Monday 
  • The semester will be accelerated and will conclude on April 24
  • We recommend that all students remain or return to their home or permanent residence
  • Most importantly, we care

As we go forward I think there has never been a more important time than now to abide by the golden rule; treat others as you would want to be treated. I know all of us care deeply about our students and their health/well-being and success. I would encourage all of us to think about checking in with those whom you know or have contact. It doesn’t matter if you are their coach, professor, advisor, line cook, or custodian, our students need us now, and we possibly need them.  It’s been said that people don’t want to know how much we know; they want to know how much we care. I firmly believe this.

Thanks.

Good morning Orediggers,

I hope you are well and enjoying your time away. While I know some of you may be enjoying spring break in exotic locations, I’m certain that no one is oblivious to the impact COVID-19 is having on all of us. As this is a rapidly changing situation and we learn more about this virus, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities.

While the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, the decision has been made to

convert to 100% online delivery of courses, labs, and clinicals beginning Monday, March 23rd. I realize this is a major change in the way we normally work, but I have confidence our faculty are up to this task.

We recognize that it is challenging for many faculty as well our students to make the transition from face-to-face to remote instruction under the best of circumstances. The fact that we are trying to do this all at once, in less than a week, has made this an incredible challenge for the entire University. We know that you may be concerned about the impact that this disruption and transition to remote learning might have on your academic progress. This is foremost in our minds, and faculty will provide flexibility and alternatives as needed to students. I know everyone will do their best to meet this challenge and I want to thank you in advance for understanding.

In addition to the 100% online format, the decision has been made to accelerate the semester with an end date of April 24, 2020. As the number of cases increases around the country and in Montana, health experts expect substantial growth in the number of people infected.

While much remains to be learned, there are clear indicators it is less virulent for those younger than 40, however, we remain concerned about our faculty and staff as well as members of your extended families. This decision was not made lightly and we know it won’t be easy, but we all feel it is the right decision to be made given the circumstances in front of us.

Finally, we would like to encourage you to stay home or return to your permanent residence if you can and return to campus to retrieve your belongings at the conclusion of the semester. We realize that home for you may be here in Butte, elsewhere in Montana, the US, or abroad. Wherever home may be, we feel it is in the best interests of all of our Montana Tech family to promote adequate social distancing by staying put. We care a great deal about all members of our Montana Tech family which include you and your family. The only way we can promote safe living, learning, and working spaces for all of us is by limiting our interaction and streamlining all we do. For those of you currently living on campus, the campus will remain open and residential and dining operations will continue, although services may become more limited. This is not how we anticipated your return from spring break, however, we feel it is in your best interest at this time.

The above measures will undoubtedly raise numerous questions, and we will follow up with additional communications in the days ahead. Please pay attention to your email as we will be asking you to complete a survey to let us know of your intentions.

 

I am well aware none of this is the information you want to hear. You can trust that I’d much rather prefer you all come back rejuvenated and ready for MDays, Techxpo and all of the things that make Montana Tech what it is. Unfortunately, this is out of our control. We will do our best and I ask that you do similarly. We have to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and be optimistic that we can all work through this together. We are Orediggers and I’m certain we can. Thanks for trusting in us and please know we care and will do all we can to assist you as we move forward.

 

With gratitude,
Les

 

Good morning Faculty and Staff colleagues,

I understand the challenges that the spread of COVID-19 is having on your personal and professional lives. As this is a rapidly changing situation and we learn more about COVID-19, we need to prepare for a range of possibilities. Your understanding and willingness to do what is in the best interests of our students and campus community is appreciated.

As I shared last week, Clayton Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education for the Montana University System provided us the mandate that all campuses within the MUS system in every instance possible, transition all in-class instruction to online or other remote teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. Initially, we believed that some classes/labs due to the nature of instruction and delivery could possibly continue in person. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, this is not a possibility. As a result, Montana Tech will convert to 100% online delivery of courses, labs, and clinical on Monday, March 23rd. There will be no exceptions to this directive. I realize this is a major change in the way we normally work, but I have confidence the great faculty at Montana Tech will meet this requirement.

All faculty will be given the assistance needed to convert courses to an online format as outlined in the attached document. A team of individuals from IT, academic departments, and other areas have been working tirelessly to get training in place to assist everyone who needs help in moving to this format. I encourage you to reach out if needed.

In addition to the 100% online format, the decision has been made to accelerate the semester with an end date of April 24, 2020. As the number of cases increases around the country and in Montana, health experts expect substantial growth in the number of people infected. While much remains to be learned, there are clear indicators it is less virulent for those younger than 40, however, we are concerned about the safety and health of our faculty and staff as well as our students and members of their extended families. This decision was not made lightly, and we know it won’t be easy, but we all feel it is the right decision to be made.

Finally, we will be sending an email to all students this morning encouraging them to stay home at their permanent residence. The only way we can promote safe living, learning, and working spaces for all of us is by limiting our interaction and streamlining all we do. We realize not all students are at home currently or will be able to return to their permanent residence, thus the campus will remain open and residential, and dining operations will continue, although services may become more limited.

Thank you in advance for your flexibility and service to Montana Tech—we know that the situation is changing rapidly and we are in a time of ambiguity. Unprecedented times require extraordinary measures. They also require extraordinary compassion and understanding. I am confident that we, as a campus, can accomplish this and believe this decision is the best option for our students and our campus community in these uncertain times.

We’ll do our best to keep you informed. Stay well.

Les

 

Hello campus. 

I hope you had a good weekend although I know how challenging it can be right now, given the circumstances we are in. I will say, although campus is incredibly quiet, there are many people, including all of you, that are diligently working to make sure we are prepared and ready for students to return next week. As we plan for their return, it’s also critically important that we take care of ourselves. This email will provide you a few updates and will also include information on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I encourage you to take advantage of these services if you need to. We all must remain physically and mentally healthy.

As we continue to keep the campus open, it is essential that we minimize the impact of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all members of the Montana Tech family and broader Butte community. As you know, our campus provides essential services, so we have to work to keep our campus environment safe and operational for our students, faculty, and staff. 

Some of the services to be aware of include:

Employee Assistance Program:  

The Montana University System (MUS) has launched the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The MUS EAP helps you privately work through challenges that may interfere with your work, family, and life in general. This new benefit is available to all MUS employees and household members. Click on EAP and Work-Life Services Overview. Visit IBH Solutions.com for more detailed information. To access the tools offered through this benefit:

866-750-1327 ׀ ibhsolutions.com

Human Resources:

If you do not feel well or have symptoms of illness, you should stay home. Temporary work-from-home arrangements are possible on an individualized basis. Please contact HR at 406-496-4322 or vvandyk@mtech.edu for more information.

Other updates:

TRAVEL 

Due to increased travel advisories from both the CDC and the Department of State and the possibility of further travel restrictions in response to COVID-19, the Montana University System is suspending all university-sponsored foreign and domestic travel until further notice.  

Campus Cleaning:

In addition to the deep cleaning facilities will be undertaking, cleaning and disinfecting products will be available after 10:00 am tomorrow. Visit the Physical Facilities Office Building, 2nd floor, to pick up a spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels. Before using the product, review the safety data sheet and use the product in a well-ventilated area with appropriate personal protective equipment.  

Book Store: 

The Montana Tech Book Store will be closed through spring break. Visit the Book Store online.

Mineral Museum: 

The Mineral Museum located in the Museum Building will be closed until further notice. 

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

Stay safe and healthy, 

Les 

 

Dear Campus Community,

As I write to you, my thoughts and well wishes are with every one of you. I want you to know that your health and safety is my top priority. 

Last night, it was announced that Commissioner of Higher Education, Clayton Christian, tested presumptive positive for COVID-19. As many of you may have heard by now, Provost Gammon also tested positive for the virus. We do not want you to panic and want you to know that we are working closely with the Health Department and monitoring this situation daily. Steve was on campus last Monday, however, he did not experience symptoms until later that evening. He has not been on campus since. There have been concerns regarding both of these individuals who were at the board of regents meeting testing positive to COVID-19. With the current information, we now have, from our local public health partners who have contacted and interviewed Clay and Steve, it is clear that neither were symptomatic at the time of the board meeting. By the current CDC recommendations, no one at the Board of Regents meeting would be considered a contact, and no one would 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 the abundance of caution, I, along with Steve, Karen VanDaveer, Carrie Vath, Dan Trudnowski, Bev Hartline, Dave Gurchiek, Carleen Cassidy, Charie Faught and Ashton Cummings, will self-quarantine until March 20. 

Our COVID-19 Planning Team met this morning to discuss campus continuity and operations. The following are updates from this meeting:

  1. As mentioned last week, ALL classes need to be delivered online when possible. Online training for faculty on how to deliver your classes online will happen this week. Theresa Stack sent out a message this afternoon. Please watch your email for further information. 
  2. We are asking that in-person campus meetings be kept to a minimum, and we are encouraging meetings to take place via conference call, zoom, or skype. If you must have an in-person meeting, please practice social distancing. 
  3. Dining services will continue to operate with grill-service only. The daily buffet will be eliminated until further notice. The coffee shop in the Mill Building will remain open. All food service in the SSC will be eliminated for the immediate future.   
  4. Public access to the HPER will be suspended. The exercise facilities, locker rooms, and pool will not be open. The HPER will undergo a deep cleaning. 
  5. All campus-sponsored and non-campus sponsored events will be suspended until further notice. 
  6. Tutoring service is not currently offered during spring break. Once students return, it will likely be offered remotely. More details to come.
  7. Your mental health is very important to us. Counseling services will continue to be available using social distancing. We are also trying to determine if there are additional services available through Wellness-MUS.
  8. During spring break, our custodial staff will conduct a deep clean across our campuses. I would ask that each of us make time to clean and wipe down our own office space and the surrounding area.  

Currently there are only a few cases of COVID-19 in Montana, but everyone must continue to be vigilant as well as conscious of the signs and symptoms of this virus. Please continue to follow prevention measures to keep yourself, your family, and the campus community safe. If you are not feeling well, please do not come to work and contact your medical provider.

It is critically important that you all are informed. I will send a daily email for the time being to update everyone. We will also continue to update our website and social media outlets. Your continued patience and understanding is appreciated. 

Please stay safe,

Les

Les P. Cook, Ed.D.

Chancellor

Montana Technological University

lpcook@mtech.edu

406-496-4129

 

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

I wanted to touch base and provide you the latest update on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation. The health of our campus and community is our most important priority. With spring break upon us, it is important the following is shared in a timely manner.

This morning we received direction from the Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Higher Education to move forward with the following as soon as possible:

  1. Effective March 23 all campuses, in every instance possible are to transition all in-class instruction online or other teaching modalities that do not require in-class presence. Montana Tech will move towards this where we are able to do so but there are some classes/labs due to the nature of instruction and delivery can only be facilitated in person. Please stay tuned, additional information about classes after spring break will be forthcoming.
  2. Campus will remain open and operational during this time for students. This includes the residence halls, computer labs, library, etc. All employees will continue to report to work as normal unless instructed otherwise.
  3. We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread of this virus by following guidelines for social distancing and will likely postpone any large events for the near future. We will keep you posted as we receive additional information providing clarification on these events.

We have a coronavirus planning team continuing to monitor this situation and I assure you that we will do all we can to continue operations as smoothly as we can with as little disruption as possible. While the uncertainty behind all of this is certainly cause for concern, I’m hopeful we can remain calm and respectful as we consider the safety and health of our entire community.

All members of our community are reminded if you have any symptoms, please do not come to work or class if you are ill. If you have symptoms like fever, cough, difficulty breathing or simply do not feel well, please contact your health care provider or our campus health center at (406) 496-4243. The clinic is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm daily Monday-Friday.

As everyone is aware, this is a continually evolving situation. Your patience, support and understanding is genuinely appreciated as we deal with these challenges in the weeks ahead. It is important that we take care of ourselves but also each other as we navigate the path forward. We will continue to keep you updated via email as well as the websiteas we receive additional information and adapt our plans.

Thank you and please watch your email for additional updates.

Sincerely,

Les 

Les P. Cook, Ed.D.

Chancellor

Montana Technological University