University of Montana officials have been considering the ramifications of the upcoming spring break, and they are cognizant of the complications around students heading home to areas that may be exposed to COVID-19, and then returning to campus.

Communications Director Paula Short said professors and staff are preparing for distance learning.

“We’ve absolutely had our eye on spring break,” said Short. “The university has been doing a great deal of contingency planning. One is getting our faculty ready to go online entirely to deliver the curriculum if needed. We’ve been working with our faculty and some are ready to go right away because they’re very experienced with online delivery of instruction, while others are learning the technology, but our goal is to be able to provide that to ensure academic continuity.”

Short said there has been constant communication with students who will be traveling for spring break.

“We’ve been consistently messaging those students about precautions they need to take to keep themselves safe,” she said. “That includes doing the research into where you’re going for spring break and understanding the threat level in that individual state or community. Do they have sustained community spread of coronavirus, or do they have some isolated cases, and to know where you’re going.”

Short addressed the subject of students returning to campus after spring break.

“On returning, we ask that everyone be careful to monitor their own symptoms, and to monitor their temperature,” she said. “The temperature threshold for coronavirus is not extraordinarily high. You may have a fever of just 100.1 and that’s not a super high fever, so you really also need to be monitoring how you’re feeling. The cough, the trouble breathing, the temperature, those are the three hallmark symptoms of coronavirus.”

Short said for those who are afraid to return home, there is another option; to stay on campus.

“We’ve also let students know that if they’ve made plans for spring break and they’re rethinking those plans that the university will have services over spring break,” she said. “Our residence halls are open. UM dining will have limited but available options for students if they want to stay on campus for spring break.”

There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) either on campus, in Missoula city or county and in the state of Montana.

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