In just days, The University of Montana will officially end its mandatory masking policy on campus.

Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz provided details to KGVO News.

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“Since the beginning of the pandemic, these decisions have been made by the campus COVID-19 Response Team, which is made up of public health experts and operations experts here at the university,” said Kuntz. “As they’ve looked closer at the data and in recent days, they've started the process of looking at that final set of data in order to likely make a recommendation in the coming days to change our campus posture in our academic spaces from a mask requirements space to a recommended space.”

Kuntz explained the protocol to end the mask mandate.

“The campus team (the CRT) is going to make the recommendation when they feel comfortable,” her said. “That data is in a place that they can accurately predict which I think is coming here very soon. They'll make that recommendation to change that posture to the president, who will likely make that decision then very swiftly and at that point it will be communicated out to the students.”

Kuntz said the response team has been watching the numbers carefully.

“That's the major factor we've seen in the data since the first of February that COVID cases in Missoula County are down nearly 90 percent, and our campus testing and test results mirrors that same data,” he said. “Throughout the whole process of this pandemic, we've looked at our mitigations as a dial, we turn them up when the threat increases, and we dial them back down and it decreases, and we think that we're in position here to dial them down pretty low, and hopefully keep it that way for a significant period of time.”

Kuntz said the mood on campus is ebullient.

“Yeah, people are very excited,” he said. “Throughout the whole time here during the pandemic, our students had made the commitment alongside the administration to do whatever we needed to do to keep on learning and keep in-person classes together for the pandemic. Through a large part of that, that required us to wear masks in order to have those in-person classes. We're getting to a point now soon, where that will no longer be the case. I think it's going to be really welcome, and it's really a testament to our students and their ability to grind this thing out; to do what they needed to do during the height and the different waves of the pandemic, and I think they'll be rewarded for their hard work here in the coming days.”

KGVO will alert the campus and the community when that day arrives.


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