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COVID-19 Information

Great Falls College MSU COVID-19 Important Information

Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020

We are very pleased to release our plan for a healthy return this Fall.

Latest COVID-19 News

July 9, 2020

MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force recommends face mask requirement

HELENA - The MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force today issued a recommendation 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.

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

Last week Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian called on the Task Force to reconvene based on three factors - 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.

"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, adding that 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 including Dr. Leanne Frost from Great Falls College, 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 clear 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.

"From the beginning of this Task Force our goal has been to develop a set of guidelines that mitigate risk and present them in a way that is engaging and understandable and encourages participation and compliance," Tessman said. "That's how we'll get the most engagement and slow the spread of COVID-19."

Great Falls College Healthy Fall Task Force Updates:

August 5, 2020

Prepared for Fall: Keeping Campus Healthy

After a successful and healthy summer semester with in-person and online classes, Great Falls College MSU is looking forward to the Fall semester and has taken multiple steps to help everyone stay healthy. Here are some of the changes:

  • Requiring face coverings on campus
  • Providing a reusable cloth face mask and personal sanitation kit to every student and employee that will be available next week
  • Providing plastic face shields for faculty members who requested them
  • Restricting general public access
  • Arranging and removing furniture to increase physical distancing
  • Installing plexiglass shields at public-facing counters and desks
  • Placing physical distancing markers on the floors
  • Leaving doors open to reduce handling
  • Installing hand sanitizing stations around campus
  • Providing more in-depth and frequent cleaning
  • Arranging room schedules to maximize distance between students and reduce students passing in doorways/hallways
  • Reducing the Café to pre-packaged grab-and-go food selections
  • Limiting water fountains to bottle re-filling only
  • Providing a virtual option for campus services
  • Requiring those awaiting test results due to symptoms or contact tracing to isolate off-campus
  • Removing shared items, such as pens, from common areas
  • Posting reminders to follow health guidelines (See message from Dr. Wolff in the next column
We Are In This Together; Do Your Part

Dr. Wolff gave a reminder of what we are facing with COVID-19 as she had a family member test positive and several other family members now are in quarantine awaiting test results.

“We have to stay vigilant,” she said. “I want to thank all of you for all you are doing, but we can’t let our guard down now. As Great Falls College MSU community members, we need to come together and practice all of the safety measures advised by public health officials, including wearing face coverings over our noses and our mouths, covering a cough or a sneeze, practicing physical distancing, staying home if we don’t feel well and washing our hands frequently.

“If we are going to be able to enjoy the on-campus experience that so many of us desire, we have to make sure that we all are doing everything in our power to make that happen. We’re in this together. Do your part.”

Questions About the Plan for a Healthy Fall?

If you have questions about the Plan for a Healthy Fall, 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.

In case you missed it:

The >Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 is posted on the college website. 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.


July 29, 2020

Great Falls College MSU Requires Face Coverings on Campus

In order to help keep everyone healthy, Great Falls College MSU revised its Plan for a Healthy Fall to include a face covering requirement. The revised plan was released Thursday, July 23, and can be found here.

More Information on Testing

Last week’s update addressed the question, “What happens if I test for COVID?” Here is more information regarding testing.

When should I test for COVID-19?

According to the CDC FAQs on testing, not everyone needs to be tested.

Guidance regarding testing includes:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider to consult whether a test is needed.
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has a diagnosed case, you may be contact traced by City County Health Department and will be quarantined and/or tested. The guidance for contact tracing is within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more.

These two types of testing require quarantine and care. We ask that you notify Human Resources if you test in this manner.

You may also voluntarily test. Remember, if you choose testing voluntarily with no symptoms and no contact tracing requested, there is no quarantine or stay-at-home directive.

The CDC prepared a Coronavirus self-checker on the right side of the page to assist individuals with the decision to test or not.

What Types of Tests Are There?

Viral tests: This tells you if you have a current infection.

Antibody tests: This may tell you if you have had a past infection.

What Should I do if I Test Positive or Negative?

Whether you test positive or negative, the same safety precautions are in place. Avoid close contact with others. Wash hands with soap frequently for at least 20 seconds. Wear a face covering. Cover coughs and sneezes. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Monitor your health daily. The City-County Health Department will give you additional information if you test positive.

Other Questions About the Plan for a Healthy Fall?

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.

In case you missed it:

Check out the new signs on campus reminding everyone how to “Keep Campus Healthy” and the banner on the Great Falls College MSU homepage. The online banner provides links to information on the CDC website and the Great Falls College revised Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020.


July 22, 2020

What Happens if I Test for COVID?

For Employees:

  1. If an employee chooses testing voluntarily with no symptoms and no contact tracing requested, there is no quarantine or stay at home directive.
  2. Employees who have been contact traced by CCHD, or employees who are feeling or exhibiting symptoms of COVID should be tested and are required to stay home during the quarantine period while they await test results. We ask that you notify Human Resources.

For more information regarding pay and leave options during a quarantine, click here.


For Students:

  1. If a student chooses testing voluntarily with no symptoms and no contact tracing requested, there is no quarantine or stay at home directive.
  2. Students who have been contact traced by CCHD or who are feeling or exhibiting symptoms of COVID should be tested and are required to stay home during the quarantine period while they await test results. Those students should contact their faculty. A temporary accommodation may be requested through the Disability Services office.
Great Falls College MSU Joins #MaskUp

The Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian has accepted a recommendation from the MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force to require face coverings on campus.

A subcommittee of the Great Falls College Healthy Fall team is meeting this week to revise the college’s Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 to comply with the directive. More specific information will be forthcoming.

Other 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.

In case you missed it:

The Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 is posted on the college website. 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.


July 15, 2020

Montana University System Healthy Fall Task Force Recommends Face-Covering Requirement

Last week, the Montana University System recommended to Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian that all MUS campuses require those on campus wear face coverings as part of the Montana University System’s Healthy Fall 2020. The recommendation came because of the increase in cases, evidence of the efficacy of face coverings and in response to concerns raised by faculty, staff, students and communities.

The Commissioner’s office is currently reviewing the policy. Great Falls College’s Healthy Fall Task Force will reconvene to revise the current campus re-opening plan to follow the new policy if the commissioner’s office approves it.

Dr. Leanne Frost, chair of the Great Falls College MSU re-opening task force, said, “We knew there would be changes to the plan as the circumstances surrounding the virus changed. We have a good plan, but we may have other updates to make in the future as the situation continues to evolve.”

Masks Being Distributed on Campus

Great Falls College MSU is providing one reusable mask to all employees and students. The following distribution sites have been set up for employees:

Department Point Person Location
Health Science Elyssa HS Office Area
General Studies Stacy GE Office Area
Trades Stacy GE Office Area
Student Services Kimberly Student Central
Library Kimberly Student Central
Lifelong Learning Kimberly Student Central
Everyone else Denise/Carmen Admin Suite

Distribution sites for students will be established by the time students return to campus.

Options for Employees with School and Childcare Concerns

FAQ: What options do employees have if public schools go online or their childcare center closes?

There are options for Great Falls College MSU employees to work with their supervisor and Human Resources to develop a work from home plan if the position allows. If the work requires the employee to be on campus, then Expanded FMLA is available to all employees who have been employed for at least 30 days. The first 10 days of Expanded FMLA leave is unpaid; however, employees may use their own paid leave accruals during this time, or they may also elect to use the paid leave provided under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL) or the State COVID leave if eligible. Our existing FMLA leave policy still applies to all other reasons for eligible FMLA leave outside of this guidance. Employees are encouraged to work with Human Resources in the event of school or day care closure to discuss options.

Other 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.

In case you missed it:

The Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 is posted on the college website. 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.


July 8, 2020

Commissioner Reconvenes MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force

Last week Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian asked the Montana University System Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force to reconvene specifically to discuss requiring face masks on campuses.

In a statement to the media, he said, “In light of the changing circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of cases both nationally and within the state – coupled with evidence around the efficacy of face masks in slowing the spread of the virus as well as the demographic trends among positive cases – I am asking the MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force to reconvene to discuss a possible mask requirement. The Task Force also will consider issues related to compliance, enforcement and other details surrounding a mask requirement. The Task Force also will consider any relevant exceptions to a requirement.”

The MUS Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force is meeting virtually this week.

Currently, the Great Falls College MSU plan strongly recommends and encourages face masks be worn on campus but does not require them. That language may change depending on the recommendations of the reconvened MUS Task Force.

“Revisions to re-opening plans should be expected because the situation and information around the COVID-19 virus is constantly changing, “ said Dr. Leanne Frost, chair of the Great Falls College Healthy Fall Task Force. “Plans were being developed in April and May based on the available guidance at that time, but now it’s July, and the circumstances have changed.”

Frost said even though the re-opening plan might be updated, the process of creating the plan enabled the college to think through and prepare for ways to reduce risk and create a healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and the community to return to campus this fall.

“We’re in good shape and looking forward to having students back in classes,” she said. “Whether the students are taking in-person or online classes, faculty and staff are ready for them.”

Take Care of Yourself Mentally as well as Physically

These are trying and stressful times for many of us. If you’re feeling stressed, isolated, or alone, know we’re here for you.

For students, three free counseling sessions are provided through Great Falls Mental Health Triage Services. Additional counseling sessions can be arranged through them for students with or without insurance. Call 406-272-1086 or text 406-840-4352 for an appointment.

Faculty and staff members, the Employee Assistance Program is available. Login to WorkLife Resources and email or chat with a counselor. You can access the Employee Assistance Program by calling 866-750-1327 or going to www.ibhsolutions.com.

On the ibhsolutions.com website, select “members” from the top right corner, click on the RBH logo, enter the access code MUS, and then select the My Benefits button.

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.

In case you missed it:

The Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 is posted on the college website. 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.


July 1, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to a few of the Frequently Asked Questions people have asked since the college's Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 was posted last week.
More are available here.

Q: What should I do if I test positive for the COVID virus?

A: Contact your healthcare provider and supervisor/instructor, and then follow the directions given to you by the City-County Health Department. On campus, positive cases will be reported to Mary Kay Bonilla, Chief Student Affairs and Human Resources Officer, who will contact the Cascade City-County Health Department and follow their directions regarding additional contact tracing and testing of those with whom the person has been in contact.

Q: Will wearing gloves help reduce the spread of the virus?

A: Wearing gloves only helps if someone doesn't touch their face or other items with the contaminated gloves. Wearing gloves can be a reminder to not touch your face, but they can also lead to a false sense of security if someone wearing gloves is still touching their face or other items and spreading the virus further.

Q: Will masks be provided for those on campus?

A: As part of a personal sanitation kit, the college will provide one reusable mask to any faculty, staff or student who needs one. There will be distribution locations set up across campus. Q: The re-opening plan says those who travel out of state may have to quarantine upon their return. What does that mean?

Q: The re-opening plan says those who travel out of state may have to quarantine upon their return. What does that mean?

A: Because the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus are constantly changing, those traveling out of state should be aware that the governor's office may change the state restrictions at any time, particularly if the number of cases is increasing. If you have questions about your travel, work with HR and your supervisor.

Q: Are there currently any plans underway for spring semester?

A: Spring semester is being discussed, but no specific plans are being made yet because the circumstances surrounding the virus are changing so quickly.

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.

In case you missed it:

The Great Falls College Plan for a Healthy Fall 2020 is posted on the college website.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.


June 24, 2020

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.


June 17, 2020

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.


June 10, 2020

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.


June 3, 2020

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.

Covid-19 News Archive