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

Montana’s Two Largest Universities Expand Mask Requirements

Students walk across the University of Montana campus, September 17, 2021.
Freddy Monares
Montana Public Radio
Students walk across the University of Montana campus, September 17, 2021.

As COVID-19 cases overwhelm Montana hospitals, the state’s two largest universities announced expanded masking requirements.

On Friday, Montana State University in Bozeman and the University of Montana announced expanded masking requirements for additional indoor spaces on campus. Previously at both universities, masking was widely encouraged, but only required for instructional settings including classrooms and labs.

Montana State University Spokesperson Tracy Ellig explained at a press conference Friday.

“It’s been expanded to not only indoor classroom spaces, but all additional indoor spaces, so, hallways, offices, the student union building, library, our residence halls, our dining halls,” she says.

The University of Montana will also now require masks in residence halls, the library and dining halls, except when eating or drinking, among other spaces.

In a letter to the campus community, Montana State University President Waded Cruzado mentioned increased strain and conditions at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, the area’s primary hospital, as the reason for the mask expansion. The hospital announced Wednesday that their critical care and surgical units are either at or exceeding capacity.

University of Montana campus officials also cited increased hospital strain in a letter announcing mask policy updates.

Copyright 2021 Yellowstone Public Radio. To see more, visit Yellowstone Public Radio.

Olivia Weitz