UM is just days away from ending the mandatory campus masking policy

In just a few days, the University of Montana will officially end its mandatory mask policy on campus.

Director of Strategic Communications Dave Kuntz provided details to KGVO News.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, these decisions have been made by the Campus COVID-19 Response Team, which is made up of public health and operations experts here at the university,” Kuntz said. “As they have looked more closely at the data and over the last few days they have started looking at this final dataset to make a recommendation likely in the coming days to change our campus attitude in our academic spaces a mask needs space to a recommended place.”

Kuntz explained the protocol for ending the mask requirement.

“The campus team (the CRT) will make the recommendation when they feel comfortable,” she said. “This data is in a place where it can accurately predict what I think is coming here very soon. They will make that recommendation to change that stance to the President, who will then likely make that decision very quickly and communicate it to the students at that time.”

Kuntz said the response team was watching the numbers closely.

“That’s the main factor we’ve seen in the data since February first, that Missoula County’s COVID cases are down almost 90 percent, and our campus testing and test results reflect the same data,” he said. “Throughout the process of this pandemic we have viewed our mitigation measures as a dial, we turn it up when the threat increases and we turn it back when it decreases and we believe we have the ability to do that here do set them fairly low and hopefully keep it that way for a significant period of time.”

Kuntz said the mood on campus was ebullient.

“Yes, people are very excited,” he said. “Throughout our time here during the pandemic, our students, along with the administration, had made a commitment to do whatever we needed to do to continue learning and to keep in-person classes together for the pandemic. Through a large part of it we had to wear masks to do these in-person classes. We are now coming to a point where that will no longer be the case. I think it’s going to be really welcome, and it’s really a testament to our students and their ability to grind this thing out; to do what they had to do during the peak and the different waves of the pandemic and I think they will be rewarded for their hard work here in the coming days.”

KGVO will notify the campus and community when that day comes.

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