A message from Dr. Susan Wolff :
Dear Great Falls College Community,
I am so proud of each of you, and I hope you and those you care about are happy, healthy and safe. Our students, faculty and staff have made herculean efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic as you have switched to remote learning and teaching with stunning success and swiftness. Thanks to those efforts, we have made amazing progress flattening the curve and saving lives during this unprecedented time.
As you know, Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced changes to the stay-at-home and travel directives earlier this week as he gradually reopens the state. You can read the full reopening plan on the governor's website.
The Montana Commissioner of Higher Education also released a guidance memo to campuses for developing staffing strategies that align with the governor's directive, and I also have been in touch with Cascade County City-County Health Department for guidance.
At Great Falls College MSU, we will remain committed to our culture of safety, but we all must remain vigilant and careful because we are still at a very real risk of a high infection rate returning.
In consultation with health officials, Great Falls College will continue its current practices of telework, online and remote instruction, building and travel restrictions, physical distancing requirements and other practices from now until the morning of Monday, May 4.
On May 4, we will begin the gradual process of re-opening, but that does not mean spring semester classes will move to face-to-face instruction except in very rare instances where students need access to specialized spaces to complete their classes. These classes include welding, industrial technology and renewable energy, and the EMT/EMS/Paramedic programs. Students and faculty will follow appropriate distancing and sanitization requirements. All other spring classes will continue to be taught using remote technologies.
We recognize there are other health science programs waiting to gain access to clinical sites. If access does not become available in time for completion of courses and clinicals by May 13, those students will receive an Incomplete grade. As soon as they can complete the course and/or clinical, then that Incomplete grade will change to a letter grade. The number of students who may be receiving an Incomplete grade has decreased quite steadily thanks to faculty using accrediting association approved simulations.
Beginning May 4, there will be a small number of employees in the Student Success Center to help students and prospective students, while the remaining employees will continue their work from their homes just as they have been throughout this process.
The Weaver Library will continue to be open by appointment for students who need to check out Chromebooks or research material, but library employees will mostly work from home. It is not open to the general public.
The Testing Center will fully open to students and the community, but strict physical distancing and sanitizing measures will be enforced. The Academic Success Center will be open to students for virtual appointments, but it will not be open for face-to-face sessions. We encourage faculty to include assignments in their courses to direct students to the ASC.
The Book Store will re-open while following all necessary precautions.
Faculty and staff members will be encouraged to wear cloth face masks when in common areas. Following all health guidelines, students or faculty member who do not feel well, should stay home and make necessary arrangements with their faculty or supervisor.
The custodians will clean and sanitize at the end of each day.
Faculty or staff members who have questions about these directives or feel uncomfortable returning to campus should contact Mallory Antovel or Mary Kay Bonilla in Human Resources. Human Resources will identify reasonable accommodations for employees who have an underlying health condition that makes them, or someone in their household, particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus disease. Human Resources also will address the circumstances of employees with childcare needs due to elementary and secondary schools moving to remote learning, childcare facility closures, and other requirements to be home with children.
For summer semester, which begins May 18, classes scheduled to be taught face to face will continue to be offered in that manner, but class sizes may be limited and instruction will move to larger classrooms so that proper physical distancing is possible.
We will continue to monitor things as we get closer to fall term and will again work with state, local and Montana University System officials to make the best decision possible for our campus community, with the health of our students, faculty, staff and the local community the highest priority.
Thank you so much for all of the great work you have done as students, instructors and staff members. This has not been easy on any of us, but our efforts have helped Montana and Cascade County lead the way in the life-saving effort to flatten the curve.
Dr. Susan J. Wolff, CEO/Dean