Task force recommends mask policy for Montana University System

The Montana University System Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force issued a recommendation July 8 for a face mask requirement on all Montana University System campuses. Work on policy details and an implementation plan will begin as soon as possible.

GFC-MSU releases plan for fall return to campus

Deputy Commissioner Brock Tessman, who led today’s meeting via Zoom, said that the Task Force has supported face masks as an effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19 since its inception and that the reconvening of the Task Force is part of a thoughtful and deliberative process in develop its response to the evolving challenges presented by COVID-19, according to a release.

Last week, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian asked the group to reconvene based on the rising number of COVID-cases in Montana, continued evidence on the effectiveness of face masks at curbing the spread, and campus and community dialogue around the possibility of a mask requirement, including discussion at last week’s Board of Regents meeting, according to a release.

“The Task Force, from its beginning, has been genuine in its commitment to hear from students, faculty, staff and the public as we develop our guidelines, and the spirit of that commitment is alive and well,” Tessman said in a release.

The Task Force may reconvene again, if necessary, in response to new considerations in its work to mitigate COVID-19.

The 12-member Task Force, comprised of leaders from across the MUS, was established by Commissioner Christian in April to develop operational strategies to mitigate COVID-19 risk. The Task Force issued its first set of guidelines June 1 as a framework on which campuses are basing their plans to mitigate risk as students return this fall.

Members expressed support for a mask requirement during Wednesday’s call, noting a preference for a mask policy that emphasizes a culture of community health and education.

Public comments on the proposal can be sent to Heather Wells at hwells@montana.edu or Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education; Attn: Heather Wells; 560 N. Park Ave.; Helena, MT 59620-3201