Great Falls College MSU COVID-19 Important Information

FACULTY & STAFF | STUDENTS | MENTAL HEALTH

Dr. Susan Wolff periodically keeps the campus and community updated.

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Latest COVID-19 News

In the interest of protecting the health of our students, faculty, staff and the community, Great Falls College MSU has made the decision to start fall classes Monday, Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally planned.

Dr. Darryl Stevens teaches a history course
Dr. Darryl Stevens teaches a history course during the first 8-week block of the spring semester in March. Great Falls College is starting its fall semester Aug. 17.

Applications and supporting documents for the first 8-week block of fall semester are due by 5 p.m. on Aug. 12.

The first 8-week block will wrap up Oct. 7, with a four-day break Oct. 8-11. The second 8-week block begins Oct. 12. Class instruction will conclude Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, with online finals and final projects and assignments due by Dec. 4.

"We are appreciative of the hard work done by our campus employees to find the best solution possible for our entire community," said Dr. Susan J. Wolff, CEO/Dean of Great Falls College.
Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian encouraged each campus in the Montana University System to end fall term by Nov. 25 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection associated with Thanksgiving break travel.

Great Falls College will continue to minimize risks while balancing the need to re-establish full academic functions for the benefit of students, faculty, staff and the community. The college is releasing the change in dates as soon as possible so students and employees can plan accordingly.

Starting a week earlier allows the college to complete fall instruction before the traditional influenza season hits and COVID-19 cases could see an uptick and before students, faculty and staff may begin to travel for the holidays.

"This schedule will allow us to keep our 8-Week Advantage, which has proven effective over the last couple years to increase student success," Wolff said. "And the 8-week advantage really demonstrated its effectiveness when we moved fully online for the second 8-week block this spring as students successfully completed their classes at the same rate as they traditionally do."

To summarize, the important dates for the 2020-21 Academic Calendar are as follows:

  • Applications and supporting documents for the first 8-week block of fall semester are due by 5 p.m. on Aug. 12
  • Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 - First day of classes for the fall semester
  • Wednesday, October 7 - Last day of first 8-week block
  • Monday, October 12 – First day of second 8-week block
  • Wednesday, Nov. 25 – Last day of face-to-face instruction
  • Monday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 4 – Online finals, assignments and final projects due

The decisions were not made lightly and are based on public health guidelines and protocols to mitigate the risk of infection.

"We must keep the best long-term benefits for the largest number of people in our communities at the top of our minds," Wolff said.


Great Falls College Healthy Fall Task Force Updates:

Healthy Fall Re-opening Plan Available

After much time and effort on many people's parts, the Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 was posted Monday.

The plan includes general steps the college will be taking as well as specific actions by different departments to create a healthy fall for students, faculty, staff and the community.

All are encouraged to read the plan. Some highlights are below:

  • Campus will re-open to the general public when the state enters Phase Three of its Reopening the Big Sky plan
  • Faculty, staff, and students are expected to self-assess their health before coming to campus and to stay home if feeling or exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms or with temperatures of 100.4 or higher
  • Those diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus are encouraged to report their case to their instructor/supervisor and Mary Kay Bonilla as the campus Case Point Person. She'll work with Cascade City-County Health for testing and contact tracing
  • Everyone is encouraged to practice healthy habits:
    • Wear a face mask
    • Maintain 6 feet of space between people
    • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly
    • Use hand sanitizer regularly
    • Sanitize any shared surfaces or items
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue

Masks: Recommended and Encouraged

Although face masks are not required on campus, they are strongly recommended and encouraged. Research and recent articles highlight the effect face coverings have on reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Forbes has an interesting article.

All are encouraged to set an example and wear a mask.

Questions About the Re-opening Plan?

If you have questions about the re-opening plan, please submit a question using the form. The re-opening task force will post the answer in the FAQ section of the COVID-19 webpage. If you’re wondering about something in the plan, somebody else probably is too. Please share your questions so we can share answers.


In case you missed it,

Great Falls College MSU has a dedicated COVID-19 page on its website for you to bookmark and follow for the latest news.


Transitioning Back to Campus

June 15 marked the return to normal summer operating hours for offices on campus; however, the campus remains open only to employees, students, prospective students, those using the Testing Center, and people with specific campus-related business.

Employees should continue to increase their time on campus until all areas are fully staffed by August 1 - two weeks before the start of the Fall semester on August 17.

Because it can be a mental shift to switch from teleworking to being on campus, MUS Wellness has provided several resources. Find out more at muswell.limeade.com.

For employees needing accommodations, please contact the Human Resources department.

Lifelong Learning also will be offering a free webinar series, with the first one on Wednesday, July 1, from noon until 12:30 p.m. presented by Heather Palermo. Palermo’s webinar is titled “Coming in from the Wild: Re-integrating into the Workplace.” More details on the series here.

Re-Opening Plan Update

Thanks to the many people who worked on creating re-opening plans for specific operational areas, the complete Healthy Fall 2020 campus plan should be submitted to the Cascade City-County Health Department and Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for their review this week and then distributed to campus next week.


In case you missed it,

Dr. Wolff shared the Montana University System’s guidelines for a healthy fall. Details here.

Great Falls College has a dedicated COVID-19 page on its website for you to bookmark and follow for the latest news.


Making Campus Safer for Everyone

Great Falls College MSU has taken several steps to help everyone have a healthier return to campus.

Physical distancing is being practiced throughout campus:

  • Campus, including the Weaver Library, is open only to students, prospective students, faculty and staff members - not the general public at this time.
  • Community events are not being held on campus at this time
  • The main front entrance is unlocked at this time, but other side entrances are locked to control access
  • Markers have been placed on floor 6-feet apart in areas where lines form
  • Furniture is being re-arranged in Student Central and other common areas to create more distancing
  • Plexiglass barriers have been installed in high contact areas

Cleaning and sanitizing has increased:

  • Sanitizing wipes are available in every classroom for students and faculty members to clean their space at tables and teaching stations
  • Hand-sanitizing gel is available in each restroom and office area
  • Classrooms, labs, common spaces, restrooms, door handles and counter tops are cleaned and sanitized every night
  • Offices and classrooms are equipped with red tags to use to notify maintenance when a room has been used and needs to be sanitized

Good hygiene is encouraged:

  • Hand sanitizing stations have been ordered for Student Central, the Testing Center and the Academic Success Center
  • Signs have been placed on classroom doors encouraging healthy habits
  • Hand washing signs have been posted in every restroom

Cloth face masks are strongly encouraged where physical distancing isn't practical and in common areas.

Good hygiene is encouraged

Re-Opening Draft Plans Due Today (6/10/2020)

Teams of students, faculty and staff have been using MUS and national guidelines to draft re-opening plans due today.The drafts will be sent to the entire campus re-opening committee for feedback, reviewed by the Executive Team and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, and then released to campus. See the team assignments here.


In case you missed it, Great Falls College is moving its start date to Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally planned, to ensure the healthiest fall semester possible. Details here. And Dr. Wolff shared the Montana University System’s guidelines for a healthy fall. Details here.


In anticipation of the earlier start to fall semester, the Executive Team has made the decision for college staff members to return to campus as their primary work place starting June 15. For employees needing accommodations, please contact the Human Resources department.


Great Falls College has a dedicated COVID-19 page on its website for you to bookmark and follow for the latest news.


Campus Welcomes Back More Staff June 15

In anticipation of an earlier start to fall semester, the Executive Team has made the decision for college staff members to return to campus as their primary work place starting June 15. For employees needing accommodations, please contact the Human Resources department.

Re-Opening Teams Work on Draft Plans

Great Falls College’s Healthy Fall Task Force split into 10 teams to begin drafting detailed plans for creating a healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and the community.
The teams are organized by operational area:

  • Facilities/Maintenance
  • Communications
  • Student Services
  • Instruction
  • Events
  • Student Activities
  • Employees
  • Bookstore/Cafeteria
  • Business Operations
  • Techology

Each team is using guidelines from the Montana University System, American College Health Association, and Centers from Disease Control and Prevention. Draft plans are due to Task Force chair Leanne Frost June 10, after which they’ll be sent to all task force members for review, finalized, and released to campus by the end of the month. The college also is working with local health officials on the plans. Team assignments here.


In case you missed it:

Great Falls College is moving its start date to Aug. 17, a week earlier than originally planned, to ensure the healthiest fall semester possible. Details here.

And Dr. Wolff shared the Montana University System’s guidelines for a healthy fall. Details here.

The college’s fall semester plans received significant attention from the Great Falls Tribune and KRTV.


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