MISSOULA — College classes will be starting up in just days and there is one key issue on many people's minds as COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the state -- whether campuses will require masks for all students, staff, and visitors.
Montana State University President Waded Cruzado said in an email Tuesday that people should wear masks while indoors on MSU's campus. She stopped short of calling the move a requirement and said the decision will remain in effect until Oct. 1 unless rescinded before then.
University of Montana President Seth Bodnar explained that UM administrators have come to a similar decision.
“So, you know we are, we are asking our students and our staff and our faculty wear masks in all indoor spaces. I want to say right up front,” Bodnar told MTN News. “What's different now from the beginning of the pandemic is the wide availability of safe, effective vaccines."
"But the emergence of the Delta variant and its higher rates of transmission causes us to say look we need to take some measures, you know, especially while members of our population of particularly those who are immunocompromised and in under the age of 12 have don't yet have the ability to be vaccinated," he continued.
“But you know we need to wear masks indoors, particularly in classroom and laboratory settings. So that's the way we'll be starting this semester.”
Unlike MSU, UM will revisit that guidance around Sept. 20.
"Our policy has not changed, we are asking (recommending) all students and employees wear masks indoors – regardless of vaccination status. It is not a mandate, as it was last year, but rather a collective call to mask up and prevent spread on the campus at the start of the school year. The policy will be revisited in one month, on Sept. 20.” UM Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz explained in a statement.