Montana State University Billings will start the fall semester early, following a plan rolled out earlier this month by the state's public university system.
The starting date will be pushed up from Sept. 9 to Aug. 19, and the semester will end Nov. 25.
University system officials have said finishing fall semester before Thanksgiving will prevent the risk of students and employees from spreading COVID-19 on campus after returning from vacation and possible out-of-state travel.
The shift also ensures that courses are completed before late fall, “when projections suggest greater prevalence of general illness and perhaps an increased threat from COVID-19,” according to university officials.
“We understand this calendar shift will be an adjustment to many, but the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are our top priority,” said MSUB Chancellor Dan Edelman in a press release. “Proper health and safety guidelines and protocols will be implemented prior to the start of our fall semester to ensure our campus remains a safe place for our students to learn, our faculty to teach, and for our staff to work.”
The recommendation from Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian was not mandated, but both of Montana's flagship universities in Bozeman and Missoula have announced early starts.
Montana universities have been making plans for face-to-face classes to resume in the fall after an abrupt transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.
An MSUB task force is expected to release a plan in July for safely having students on campus, according to the press release.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.