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MSU students return to dorm life for Fall 2021 semester, COVID-minded

MSU marching band.jpg
Posted at 8:19 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 12:22:51-04

BOZEMAN — The last four days have been busy over at Montana State University - as thousands of students flocked back to campus to prepare for the incoming Fall semester.

But 2020 has some lasting impacts for MSU.

In the past, Montana State University students have used a single day to move into the dorms, in full.

But this year, they spread that over four days.

That’s partly because MSU has had around 4,500 students sign up for their dorm halls this year.

“It’s a shot of vitality for our campus,” says MSU spokesperson Michael Becker.

Whether they drove, flew in from out-of-state and country, or marched, more than 4,000 students made their way back into MSU’s multi-level halls with only a few stragglers on Tuesday.

“We’ve got volunteers all across campus this past weekend, helping our students move in, welcoming them into the MSU community,” Becker says.

MTN News caught up with the last four families dropping off their students over at Hyalite Hall, who, while didn’t want to talk on camera, still had me help them load the last of their stuff into the hall.

Each family told him they were excited to start while also carrying masks and keeping in mind concerns from last year.

One student among those families said they were from Brazil.

“We do have international students coming in,” Becker says. “People are facing all sorts of travel difficulties all over the world. Same is true with families who are sending their students overseas to study. Our Office of International Programs is helping our students navigate those difficulties and travel as best as they can.”

It’s a return wrought with questions for others; one family, telling MTN News they wanted their students fully vaccinated before heading back to class but praised the lack of a mask requirement.

In part of her letter to the MSU community last week, MSU President Waded Cruzado wrote that her “strong appeal to all members of the same community is that we do this together - not because it is mandated or required.”

But, Cruzado also wrote “if there is rampant disregard for the need to wear face masks in indoor spaces” or Gallatin County shows a “sustained release” of COVID hospitalizations, “MSU will revert to mandating masks.”

“The number one tool we have as a community, as a country and as a world at beating this pandemic is getting people vaccinated,” Becker says.

On that point, MSU officials say students, staff, and faculty will be able to get vaccinations at the Swingle Health Center by walk-in this week or by appointment.

And while Clean Cat Kits are no longer available this year, university leaders say sanitizing stations are standing sentry, campus-wide.

“It’s an energetic fall and we’ve got a lot of people who are [very excited] to get to their classes [Wednesday],” Becker says.

Right now, MSU officials say 2021 enrollment numbers are still in the works - but predict them to be “notably higher” than 2020 - that includes international students.

Montana State University tallied a total enrollment of 16,249 students for the Fall 2020 semester.

Of these, 12,577 attended full time (about 77 percent).

The remaining 3,672 attended part-time (about 23 percent).

Compare that to 2019 - MSU dropped from 16,766 students from the Fall 2019 semester. Note that this was the second-highest in Montana State University - Bozeman history, with the fall before recording 16,902.