On July 16, UM sent out an email to students confirming COVID-19 hit the campus community. Classes hadn’t even started yet, and already, Curry Health Center could confirm several positive cases — all enrolled students.
After students received the email, we published a piece online. It’s the kind of reporting we intend to do all year. After talking to campus officials about the UM alert, it was made clear to us that UM wanted to communicate new information as it became available, and has regularly been updating its COVID-19 website with more information about mask policies and Healthy Griz Kits galore.
But when is UM going to release COVID-19 testing results? Universities across the country are reporting COVID-19 numbers on their campuses — including campus “clusters” and infection rates — and so far, we’ve heard nothing.
Currently, UM’s COVID testing numbers are grouped in with Missoula County’s. That’s not enough. The next couple weeks are going to be pivotal to UM’s success as an in-person campus. The people who participate in that campus should be made aware of whatever situation we’re facing. Are there no active cases? Are there five? Are there 20?
In this issue, we feature more reporting on how UM plans to keep its students safe. How UM will enforce its Healthy Fall Plan 2020. How a sentinel testing program in the UC will start asymptomatic tests for the student body. And, importantly, how contact tracing guidelines will mean professors don’t always have to be notified if their student tests positive.
But what campus needs is context.
As classes start into full swing and students settle into the “new normal” of campus life, UM continues to ask us to wear our masks. To practice social distancing. To refill our Griz Kit hand sanitizer at the UC. Ok, cool. We’re just curious when we are going to find out what COVID on campus actually looks like.