The University of Montana’s intention since it first announced distance learning due to the COVID 19 pandemic was to resume face to face instruction in the fall.

UM Communications Director Paula Short confirmed that intention on Monday, as emails were sent to students regarding the university’s plans for the fall semester.

“The university is following the directive by Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian that said we were to work to design a safe return to campus for fall instruction,” said Short. “He, in fact, set up the Montana University System’s Healthy Fall Task Force to really dial in on some of the things that we would need to do in order to mitigate some of the risks presented by coronavirus.”

Short listed some of the goals that Commissioner Christian set forth.

“That’s everything from how do we think about occupancy in the residence halls, how do we think about large lectures and also small instructional groups,” he said. “He also spoke of some of the mitigations we might need to have to have on-campus learning. The Commissioner in that directive said that remote instruction would certainly be part of that potentially, but it would complement on campus learning, not replace it.”

Short said that the emails that were sent out were meant to encourage students.

We've been working for that and I think the announcement today was help the students who were waiting to see what the plan was going to be and  particularly for our returning students to get them registered for classes and looking forward to getting back on campus.”

The University of Montana has been practicing distance learning since the end of spring break, and for the first time in the school’s history, there was no commencement ceremony.