(KPAX) The Montana University System has formed a new task force to prepare for classes in the fall.
Students at the University of Montana are wrapping up this semester with remote classes, but the Montana University System is already looking ahead to next fall, hoping to get those students back on campus.
“The goal is not to get back to how things were before. The goal is to make it safe, and then make it better than how it was before,” said Brock Tessman.
Tessman, the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education, said the Montana University System is coordinating with health officials and campus experts to ensure college is a safe place to be this August.
“Understanding that there will likely still some public health risk in the fall, we have to also start looking forward,” he said.
The Healthy Fall 2020 Task Force met for the first time last week.
Comprised of 11 people, it plans to outline necessary changes to residence halls, lecture halls, student support services and campus event planning at all Montana colleges.
“In many ways it’s exactly the kind of thing the university system is designed to solve,” said Tessman.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for the University of Montana, Paula Short, told MTN News the pandemic could have a lasting effect.
“We are concerned about coronavirus and it’s effect on student success, and ultimately retention at the University of Montana,” said Short.
Tessman agrees that retention is a worry, but he’s hopeful. He believes the upcoming summer semester can help ease the transition from remote learning to classroom instruction.
In the coming weeks, the task force will branch off to work with campus experts in residence life, police and safety, admissions and athletics.