The Montana University System is moving from in-class instruction to online instruction in every class where it's possible, due to coronavirus concerns. The change takes effect March 23, as students return from spring break. The campuses, including residence halls and computer labs, will remain open for students. Employees will continue to report to work.
Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says the campuses will implement appropriate social distancing measures in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
They include restrictions on large lectures, theater performances, academic conferences and other large gatherings. Montana does not have any reported in-state coronavirus infections.
Karen Ogden is the communications director at the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.
"Nationwide we've seen the focus shift from containment of isolated outbreaks to more widespread cases. So we felt this was the time to be proactive and make these changes."
Ogden says there may be a few classes that will still meet in person, like pharmacy labs or welding classes.
She says there is no timeline for when classes going online March 23 will come back in person.
The move to online classes applies to 16 universities and colleges, including University of Montana and Montana State University. The policy doesn't not apply to Montana's tribal colleges or community colleges.
Campuses will remain open and operational for students. That includes residence halls, dining services, computer labs and most other campus services.
Commissioner Christian says all university system students and employees need to monitor their official email address for more communications and planning details between now and