The University of Montana is making changes to its 2020 fall semester in response to COVID-19. Fall semester at UM will start Wednesday, August 19, and conclude Wednesday, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. According to UM Spokesperson Paula Short, the intention behind the adjusted dates is to eliminate the need to return to campus after Thanksgiving to finish the semester.

“We have done design work to enable the term to end as students depart for Thanksgiving,” Short said. “That will hopefully help to mitigate some of the risk with back and forth holiday travel by allowing the semester to come to an end a little bit earlier.”

Students will return to campus for the start of spring semester 2021 on Monday, January 11. According to Short, that leaves a fairly long break in between the upcoming fall and spring semesters at UM.

“We have been in discussions about things like a winter session or some short classes during the break for those students who aren’t planning to leave for the break,” Short said. “Some students live here locally and have the ability to continue with some course work. Those discussions are underway. We don’t have any announcements in that regard just yet, but this has been a really interesting and complex puzzle to put together.”

Short said financial aid requirements will also play a role in their decision making.

“For example, if you are a student receiving federal financial aid, and many UM students do, there are requirements about how many weeks of instruction you must have to qualify for federal financial aid,” Short said. “There were implications to a lot of different course design elements, practicums, and hands on experiences that are required for students.”

UM President Bodnar said, “We still have some decisions to make around the new semester dates and we will ensure that information is communicated promptly to enable our students and employees to plan accordingly.”

Updates and other information are available on the UM Coronavirus Fall 2020 webpage.