COVID-19 Coronavirus Campus Communications

Wash Your Hands!

One of the most effective measures for stopping any infectious disease is frequent and thorough hand washing. Please join the effort and wash your hands a lot! The Centers for Disease Control has an entire webpage on the science behind hand washing. Check it out! There’s more to it than you think.

COVID-19 Coronavirus

Student Communications

 

 

Dear Montana Tech Orediggers,

Ten days ago, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian requested that all campuses within the Montana University System shift their academic calendar to allow for the completion of fall semester by Wednesday November 25. I wanted to let you know Montana Tech will follow this recommendation 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 students and the 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 you are eager to resume your 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. 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 for you around exam schedules, move-in, 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 you. I know some of you are concerned about ending your internship early, losing an extra week of pay at your summer job, dealing with housing or childcare issues. Unfortunately as daunting as all of this can be, we have to do what we think is best for all of Montana Tech and our students. We will continue to ask for flexibility in planning from everyone as we move forward.

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to work through this together. We look forward to having you 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.

Chancellor

 

Greetings Orediggers,

Week two of online education is almost in the books, if online can be in the books 😊. I do hope your classes are going well and you are finding a routine.

I’d like to let you know that given the unusual circumstances of this semester and the challenge of moving 100% online caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and in support of you being able to adapt to a new system of course delivery, Montana Tech will implement an alternative grading mechanism effective for the spring 2020 semester.  This alternate grade option is in addition to the normal letter grade process. The Complete Credit/Credit/No Credit grading mechanism will be available for all courses taken for undergraduate credit. Once grades are available if  you feel that a course(s) grade negatively impacts your GPA, you 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). You will have 7 days to decide if you would like to choose the Complete Credit/Credit/No Credit option. Grades taken through this alternate option will not impact your GPA. I have attached the policy or you can find out more information here under the heading Alternate Grades.

I know many of you have been wondering if our commencement ceremony and Techxpo will take place this year. 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. As I’ve stated before, this is not really something any of us want, but something in the best interests of all. While we won’t have an in-person ceremony this May, we understand the importance of celebrating this milestone in the lives of our Orediggers. The university launched its Phoenix Recovery Committee to reinvent campus events for both prospective and current students. The commencement ceremony is a significant project the team is focusing on. The group is comprised of individuals from a diverse cross-section of campus departments, focused on finding creative and effective solutions under the current circumstances while embracing the opportunities to move Montana Tech forward. All graduating seniors will receive a survey shortly asking for your input. Please complete the survey so we know what you’d like to see happen.

Our 2020 Techxpo event has also moved an online format. For those of you who are interested in sharing your creative research and innovative projects through Techxpo, you will be able to upload your posters to Digital Commons on or about April 16. All of you who were participating in Techxpo should have received an email already about these changes.

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.

For all of us, we cherish this time of year as we look forward to awards gatherings, a bike ride on Big Butte, breaking out the barbecue, MDays, the end of winter and the beginning of spring and wrapping up another chapter in the book of life.  Spending the bulk of my career in student affairs, I can say suspending the events and things you all look forward to has been hard. We miss you being here but social distancing does not mean social isolation.  I hope you are in regular contact with your fellow Orediggers, faculty, advisors, mentors and others that keep you grounded. The value of association and need for human connection has never been more important.

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.

I hope you have a restful weekend, and please abide by Governor Bullock’s stay-at-home order.

Take care and please stay healthy,

Les

 

The Health Clinic is closed. Call 406-496-4243 to determine if you need to be seen the same day, stay home, or schedule an appointment.

Micaul McClafferty, PA-C, and Kirk Bigley, PA-C, will see Tech students at SCL Health Medical Group, at 435 S. Crystal St. Suite #300 from 11AM - 1PM. Call 406-496-4243 to determine if you need to be seen. If they determine you need to be seen by a provider, you will walk into the Regional Medical Arts Pavilion (RMAP), connected to the hospital, and staff will direct you where to go. The visit with the provider and point-of-care testing will be of no cost to you. The cost is included in your tuition fee if you are currently enrolled in at least 7 credits on the North campus, or if you have paid the health clinic fee. You must bring your Digger Card. If appropriate, virtual video visits will be conducted if they deem it not necessary to be evaluated in person.

 
The Health Clinic is temporarily closed for patient visits. The nurse will take phone calls during regularly scheduled hours, from 10 AM - 2 PM, and make recommendations on whether you need to be seen the same day, stay home, or schedule an appointment. You must call 406-496-4243 before coming to the clinic.

Micaul McClafferty, PA-C, and Kirk Bigley, PA-C, will see Tech students at SCL Health Medical Group, at 435 S. Crystal St. Ste #300 from 11AM - 1PM. If the campus nurse recommends you see a provider, you will walk into the Regional Medical Arts Pavilion (RMAP), connected to the hospital, and staff will direct you where to go. The visit with the provider and point-of-care testing will be of no cost to you. The cost is included in your tuition fee if you are currently enrolled in at least 7 credits on the North campus, or if you have paid the health clinic fee. You must bring your Digger Card. If appropriate, virtual video visits will be conducted if they deem it not necessary to be evaluated in person.
 

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

 

 Good morning Orediggers, 

I hope you have had a nice spring break and are settling in with the idea that we will all be online as we return on Monday. I know it’s not what any of us had planned for and I know there will be questions along the way, but please be assured our entire team is here to help you through this process. Let’s all take this one day at a time. 

I want to thank all of you who completed the survey that was emailed out yesterday. We have close to 600 responses, and they continue to grow by the hour. The results are helping us understand your needs and how we can do things better for the remainder of the semester. We are sharing your comments with faculty and others across campus. Please complete the survey if you have not done so. Your feedback is helping us plan as we move to 100% online delivery. Thanks also for the positive feedback, it’s energizing after a very long week.

A few updates today for you: 

  1. Last night, the Commissioner of Higher Education, Clay Christian, authorized campuses to begin the process of providing prorated refunds, to the extent possible, for room and board to those students not returning to campus. Refunds will be issued for the period from March 23rd through the end of the Spring term. If you are an on-campus resident, you will be asked to complete a cancellation form. Housing and residence life will provide these details. If you are not returning but leaving your belongings in your room until a later date, that’s perfectly fine, we will still provide you a refund as long as you let us know your intentions.
  2. Our operations page has the most current information about the Academic Center for Excellence, Counseling Services, and Disability Services. Please visit the page for more information. 
  3. Dining Services will be limited for the remainder of the semester. They will operate a C-store providing grab 'n go, and take-out service from the grill in the SUB Dining area only from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. Residence Hall students will be delivered pre-packaged breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  4. In the interests of everyone and to minimize social interaction, much of campus will be closed. While not ideal, it’s something we have to do. Departments and spaces that will be closed include:
      1. The Bookstore and HPER will remain closed.
      2. The Library will also be closed; however, they can help if you need something. Contact information for Library personnel is listed on our operations page on our website. 
      3. We have also closed a number of the computer labs across campus. Labs that will remain open include the following:
        • BB 001
        • ELC 315 (with dual monitors)
        • Main 205
        • MG 102 (with dual monitors)
        • MUS 101 (12 machines with dual monitors)
        • NRB 228. 
      4. We have also closed a few low traffic buildings for the time being. These include the Mill, Engineering Hall, Natural Resources Research Center, Library, and HPER. 

    As you prepare for a new delivery of your education or a return to Montana Tech, we want you to know that your health and safety is of the utmost importance to us. We care about you and want to make this a smooth and successful semester finish. Please complete the survey you were emailed, reach out if you need anything at all via email, or send us a comment or question on our online form

    Your continued patience, understanding and resilience is genuinely appreciated. This surely isn’t the way I had planned to conclude my first year as your chancellor and I know it’s not what you anticipated a week or so ago when you left for spring break. Unfortunately, it’s our current reality and staying positive and flexible will help all of us in the days/weeks ahead.

    As you enjoy these last two days of spring break, I encourage you to enjoy the outdoors, rest, be kind, and help others. Next week will be a new adventure, let’s Roll Diggs! 

    With gratitude and appreciation,

    Les

 

Good afternoon Students,

I know you are probably getting tired of hearing from me, but I wanted to check in to make sure you are doing okay. I know you have a lot of information coming at you, but the most important thing right now is your health and well-being. 

As I shared yesterday, we strongly recommend you stay home or return to your permanent residence if you can and return to Butte to retrieve your belongings at a later date. The unknowns with COVID-19 remain unsettling, this is an emerging public health situation unlike anything previously witnessed. As such, we believe being home is the best place for you as you complete your coursework.

If you currently live on campus, you need to know that all services are likely to become more limited in the days ahead. I’m sorry, I know these decisions are hard, but asking you to continue your education remotely we feel is in your best interest. If you are an on-campus resident, please check your email for regular communications about the halls. 

In the next days and weeks, you are going to receive a lot of messages from Montana Tech about what is happening on campus, with your classes, etc. and I would like to ask that you please pay attention to this communication. Some of these messages will change as situations change. This is not how we typically communicate with you, but these are also not normal times. This afternoon you will receive a short survey from us. I strongly encourage you to complete it. We care about you and want to make sure that you have what you need as we move 100% to online courses in addition to staying healthy. This survey will provide us information to ensure you are supported and your needs are being met.

We know some of you have concerns about internet access at your home residence. Charter is offering free access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days for college student households. To enroll and for more information, please call 1-844-488-8395.

It is also important for you to know that Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a travel advisory today. He is advising Montana citizens who have traveled internationally to self-quarantine for 14 days and to contact their local health department.

I thank you again for your patience and understanding. We are all Orediggers and together, we can make a difference. Be kind, keep a positive attitude, social distance, and help others out.

My thoughts continue to be with you all.
Les 

 

Dear Montana Tech Students,

Greetings. I hope you are enjoying the break so far and finding some time for R&R. I know it may be challenging given the environment we are currently in. I want you to know your health and safety is at the top of my mind. I’m sure it is on yours as well. I encourage you to continue to practice regular prevention measures—cover your cough, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and stay home if you are sick.

As you may have heard our Provost, Steve Gammon tested positive for the COVID-19 virus as has the Commissioner of Higher Education, Clay Christian. We do not want you to panic and want you to know that we are working closely with the Health Department and monitoring the situation daily. While both tested positive and were at our Board of Regents Meeting in Dillon over ten days ago, 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, a number of us on campus will be in self-quarantine through March 20. This seems like the smart thing to do in this situation.

I want to assure you that we are doing all we can to be prepared to move all of our classes/labs to an online format or other modality upon your return. Our faculty and staff are working hard to make certain we can offer you the best experience possible when you get back to campus. That said, this is new space for some and we will all need to be patient as well as flexible. You’re Orediggers and I’m confident you can do this. Please watch your email for updates. 

Over the break, most Montana Tech departments will continue to be open, however, there may be some services that are closed or have scaled back hours. For those of you staying with us during spring break, our residence halls are open, and staff will be available for necessary support.

Below are a few other important updates for you:

  • Dining services will offer grill-only service during the break. 
  • The coffee shop in the Mill Building is open. Service in the SSC is closed until further notice.     
  • During spring break, access to the HPER will be suspended. The exercise facilities, locker rooms, and pool will not be open.
  • The Bookstore will be closed during the break, however, online services are available if you need access.
  • The museum will be closed for the immediate future.
  • All campus-sponsored and non-campus sponsored events are suspended until further notice.
  • Tutoring service is not offered during spring break. More details to come about tutoring and perhaps, some expanded online services after the break.
  • Your mental health is very important to us. These are challenging times and we realize that all of us are feeling some anxiousness and stress. PLEASE reach out if you need help or simply someone to talk to. Counseling Services will continue to be available with social distancing measures in place.
  • Many of you likely have jobs on campus, if so, I’d urge you to contact your supervisor about your work schedule. We have asked them to be flexible and understanding of the situation at hand.

We will continue to update you via email and our website. That said, I want you to have fun and enjoy your time away so we will try to keep it to a minimum, but please check your email at least daily.

Also, the Butte community is doing everything it can to keep its citizens safe. Please see this article from the Montana Standard regarding closures around town. 

We are so thankful you are a Montana Tech Oredigger and I assure you we are doing all we can to make sure the only thing that will change when you return is the way you go to class/labs. Please stay safe, take precautions, and have confidence, we will get through this together.

My best wishes,
Les

 

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

 

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