January, 11, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

With the spring semester just a few days away, we want to ensure you have the latest MSUB COVID-19 information when talking to students, their family members, prospective students, etc. A spring semester checklist was sent to students last week to help prepare them for the spring semester. Please share this checklist with students as needed.
 
ROTATING IN-OFFICE & WORK FROM HOME SCHEDULES

Last semester, rotating in-office and work from home schedules were established to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus. This will be continued throughout spring semester as your supervisors see fit. Each department has unique needs, and it is up to each supervisor to ensure a rotating schedule meets the needs of their department. Please work with your supervisor should you have any questions. Telework agreements should be completed for the rotating in-office and work from home schedule. Separately, those employees who are temporarily working from home full-time due to underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19, should ensure that they have an updated telework agreement on file with their supervisor and Human Resources.

MSUB’s COVID-19 HEALTH & SAFETY PLAN (formerly called Back to Business Action Plan)

Last summer our Back to Business taskforce created the Back to Business Action Plan for fall 2020 semester following the MUS’s Healthy Fall Taskforce guidelines/blueprint. We did the same for our upcoming spring 2021 semester making some minor revisions which follow updated MUS guidelines. Our plan is now called the COVID-19 Health & Safety Plan to better reflect the contents of the plan.

Key items from the plan:

  • Face covering requirement remains unchanged and we will continue to promote rigorous health hygiene practices.
  • Those who have traveled internationally or domestically to high-risk areas are advised to undergo a seven-day self-quarantine and to get COVID-19 tested 3-5 days upon return (if possible), per the CDC. If it is not possible to get tested, a ten-day self-quarantine is advised.
  • Students are encouraged to get a COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus after semester break.
  • The term “physical distancing” is used throughout the plan. Though the most frequently used term to refer to the COVID-19 safety precaution of maintaining six feet of distance between individuals is “social distancing,” the plan uses the term “physical distancing” instead since MSUB encourages students, faculty, and staff to maintain social connections even while keeping physical distance.
  • MSUB complies with RiverStone Health’s COVID-19 guidelines which are in alignment with the CDC.
  • Faculty, staff, and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are highly encouraged to complete the Voluntary COVID-19 Self-Reporting Form which will assist MSUB’s contract tracers to do their jobs in a timely and effective manner.

 
COVID-19 CLASSROOM CAPACITY

Over winter break, COVID-19 Health and Safety capacity caps were established for each classroom and lab space on both campuses. A square footage analysis of each room was conducted to ensure each occupant could maintain at least six feet or more of physical distance per CDC guidelines. Through this analysis, it was determined that a temporary, 50 percent occupancy reduction for each classroom and lab will allow for appropriate physical distancing necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

When combined with physical distancing throughout the entire class period, the Health and Safety cap will eliminate the need for seating charts and taking attendance if faculty choose to. However, it is important to remember that IF physical distancing throughout the entire class period cannot be maintained, then faculty must create seating charts and take attendance. 

NOTE: These Health and Safety caps are temporary and will not be reflected in Banner or the EMS system. They may impact course caps; however, course caps are set through a collaboration between the faculty member, their department chair, and their Dean and should be handled on an individual basis.
 
MONTANA VACCINE PHASES

Recently, Gov. Gianforte made some revisions to Montana’s COVID-19 vaccine plan. Review this infographic of the plan. Montana is currently in Phase 1A. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, please contact covid19questions@msubillings.edu.

NOTE: You must continue to wear a face mask or face covering after you have received your vaccine.
 
RESCINDING OF YELLOWSTONE COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER ORDERS

Effective January 7, 2021, Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton rescinded all local health officer orders and will defer to Gov. Gianforte’s health and safety directives.
 
This keeps us under the Governor’s directive of November 17, 2020.

Currently, statewide directives remain in place including:

  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos to operate at 50 percent capacity and close no later than 10 p.m.
  • Public gatherings and events limited to 25 individuals where social distancing is not possible or observed.
  • Face coverings required in all counties regardless of case count.

We will keep you posted on any changes that Gov. Gianforte makes, but as of right now the above-mentioned directive is still in effect.

Important: Should the state-wide mask mandate change, it may be necessary for MSUB to establish a higher threshold for some restrictions due to our unique environment. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are priority and we plan to keep our current health and safety guidelines in place until it has been deemed safe to make changes.

COVID-19 VIRTUAL TOWN HALL

We will continue to hold weekly COVID-19 Town Halls on Thursdays at 3 p.m. throughout the semester. The first spring semester Town Hall is this Thursday at 3 p.m. You can find past Town Hall recordings and the latest Town Hall WebEx link here. You can also email covid19questions@msubillings.edu at any time with any COVID-19-related questions, concerns, or feedback.

As a reminder, the first three days of the spring semester is online only for in-person classes, Jan. 13-15. In-person classes will resume on Jan. 19, with Monday, Jan. 18 as a university holiday (no classes, offices closed) in observance of MLK Jr. Day.
 
Have a fantastic semester!

September 11, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As the fall semester progresses and as we are all learning to navigate our “new” normal together, we understand that a lot of information is being sent to you simultaneously from health and news outlets along with campus communications, and that it’s challenging to keep track of the latest news and updates.

To help ameliorate the stress and often times confusion with MSUB’s campus COVID-19 protocols and evolving information, we will be implementing a weekly COVID-19 Town Hall where a 30-minute “briefing” will take place to ensure you have the information you need to continue to be a successful and safe staff, faculty member, and student.

Join us in person or via Webex Thursday, Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. in Library Room 148 or via Webex (info forthcoming next week) for our first COVID-19 Town Hall. Depending on how many people continue to attend in person, we will move the Town Halls to a larger space.

Dave Nordel, our new COVID-19 Emergency Response coordinator, Darla Tyler McSherry, director of Student Health Services and Dr. Kurt Toenjes, dean of the College of Health Professions and Science, will lead the Town Halls and ensure your questions are answered. Due to time constraints, please submit your questions ahead of time to covidquestions@msubillings.edu.

Mark your calendar to join the COVID-19 Town Hall every Thursday at 4 p.m. to get the latest and most updated campus COVID-19 information. A reminder email will be sent out the day before with the corresponding Webex link for those who wish to join virtually.

August 26, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

The MSUB Foundation is raising money to support scholarships, programs, and capital projects for you – but we need your help. This year, as we gear up for campus drive, there is a new twist. When you give to MSUB students, you also have the chance to win!

Your investment in our students is an entry to win big. For just $12.50 through payroll deduction (the cost of three lattes) for 20 pay periods, you will be entered for a month of drawings this November. Your name will go into the ‘Jacket Jackpot for every drawing, every day! And the prizes get bigger the closer we get to the jackpot. The amounts awarded per day are on the calendar below.

calendar for fundraising in November, with November 27th being the $1,000 'Jacket Jackpot

Your participation supports MSU Billings students, programs, and scholarships. Scholarships have become more important than ever to help students stay in school and achieve their academic goals.

Watch for upcoming testimonies from faculty and staff, as well as students; they will be coming by mail and email. For your convenience, we will provide contribution forms you can submit for your entry into this fun, philanthropic progressive. This can be dropped in campus mail without postage.

All entries must be received by Oct. 28 to be entered. Once chosen, your name will be placed back into the pool, giving you opportunities to win multiple times throughout the month. Visit the MSUB Foundation’s Facebook page each day for these announcements. Winners will be notified by the contact information on their contribution form.

There must be at least 100 staff and faculty entries for the drawings to take place, so encourage your colleagues to make a gift today! Thank you for your continued commitment to MSU Billings and our students.

August 25, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Yesterday we announced that we are hosting three listening sessions this Thursday, Aug. 27 in the Glacier Room on university campus.

We have added a virtual attendance option should you prefer to join a session virtually. Below are Webex links to each session. You will not be able to make comments via Webex, but please submit feedback you have throughout the search process via the Listening Session Comment Form or send questions or comments via email to msubchancellorsearch@msubillings.edu.

Virtual Listening Session participation Webex links:

Thursday, Aug. 27

10 a.m.-11 a.m. session

12 p.m.-1 p.m. session

2 p.m.- 3 p.m. session

The latest information and updates can be found on the MSUB Chancellor Search webpage.

Dr. Brock Tessman, MUS Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research, and Student Affairs, will chair the Search Advisory Committee. The remainder of the Search Advisory Committee will be announced later this week.

August 24, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As our new semester begins, the search for our next Chancellor is also getting underway. As a starting point, we would like to know your thoughts about what you are looking for in MSUB’s next Chancellor.

We will be hosting three public listening sessions on Thursday, Aug. 27 to get your insights into what experience, qualities, and vision should define MSUB’s next leader. We will also be able to answer some questions about the search timeline and overall process. These sessions are open to the MSUB community and the Billings community more generally. Please, do come and share your thoughts—out loud or in writing.

Montana State University Billings Chancellor Search
Listening Sessions | Thursday, Aug. 27 |10 a.m.-11 a.m. | 12 p.m.-1 p.m. |

2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Glacier Room, Student Union Building, 1500 University Drive

This week, we will launch a dedicated website for the Chancellorsearch. That website will include a platform to submit comments online throughout the entire search process. Written comments can also be submitted via email at MSUBChancellorSearch@msubillings.edu.

Dr. Brock Tessman, MUS Deputy Commissioner for Academic, Research, and Student Affairs, has agreed to chair the Search Advisory Committee. The remainder of the Search Advisory Committee will be announced early next week.