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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Montana Universities Encourage Masking, Incentivize Student Vaccinations

People walk in front of a grizzly bear statue on the University of Montana Campus, July 7, 2021.
Freddy Monares
/
Montana Public Radio
People walk in front of a grizzly bear statue on the University of Montana Campus, July 7, 2021.

College students will return to Montana university campuses at the end of this month. As cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 rise, campus officials are making plans to encourage, but not require, masking and vaccines.

The University of Montana in Missoula announced last week that students, staff and faculty are now asked to voluntarily wear masks indoors on campus, regardless of vaccine status.

The university’s COVID-19 response team is making the request after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its mask guidance for vaccinated people indoors. Data show vaccinated people can also spread the Delta variant.

Tracy Ellig, spokesperson for Montana State University, says the Bozeman flagship is encouraging the campus community to follow CDC guidelines.

MSU Friday launched a new incentive program for students who are vaccinated. Those who enter the sweepstakes will automatically get $10 and be entered for a chance to win $5,000 in financial aid.

The Montana University System, which oversees campuses statewide, has not updated its COVID-19 recommendations since it rescinded its mask mandate in June when cases were on the decline. Cases are rising again and Delta is the most prominent variant detected in Montana.

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