In response to the spreading coronavirus and the resulting impact on institutions of higher learning, Montana Bible College has activated a crisis response plan. This plan includes the following:
- The assembly of a command team responsible to oversee the College’s response to the crisis including data gathering, communicating, developing a plan of action, and overseeing the execution of such plan until resolution of the crisis. Currently this team is led by our President, Ryan Ward, in addition to the three Vice Presidents and the Dean of Women. Other experts may be called upon for advice or assistance as necessary.
- The assignment to command team members of key responsibilities to oversee during the crisis. These areas include academic delivery options, housing plans, travel policies, health and safety precautions, and general communication.
- Preparations for various potential contingencies related to college operations in the above areas of oversight.
Since Montana is only reporting four presumptive cases of the coronavirus, the MBC administration is taking a prudent but measured response to the crisis. As a smaller Christian educational institution, we are nimbler in our ability to protect and respond to the needs of our student body, faculty and staff than larger ones. Until new developments demand a different approach, our plan at this juncture is to continue basic operations of the college following spring break (March 16-20) until the end of the semester. With this said, there are precautionary measures and plans we are putting into place depending on how this crisis unfolds into the future. Here are the most current decisions by our command respond team.
- We plan to resume classes on March 23rd with potential livestream and online options available for students who are ill, who have compromised immune systems, who need to self-quarantine or who choose to not return to campus because of personal concerns about their health. We are taking action to put in place the technology needed to offer these options to all our students over the internet in the near future. This plan may change to all online with any specific directives to close our campus given to private educational institutions by the federal or state government.
- We are postponing all planned student activities until further notice. These include the traveling dinner and the talent show. We are still planning on conducting commencement (graduation) activities on May 8th until further notice.
- We are requiring mandatory hand-washing before the Tuesday all-campus lunch. Pick-up lunch options may be provided as alternative.
- We are instituting a campus wide deep cleaning/sanitizing plan which will limit possible exposure of any infectious disease on hard surfaces.
- We are actively monitoring travel plans of all our students, staff and faculty. It is possible that students, faculty or staff who visit certain “high exposure risk areas” may be prohibited from returning to campus. Similarly, students who become ill and manifest symptoms which correlate to the virus may be quarantined on campus until they have recovered.
- We are restricting all overnight visitors to our campus with the exception of those previously approved by the Dean of Students, until further notice. These exceptions are visitors from nearby states with limited reported cases.
- We are asking all students to voluntarily self-report potential exposure to the coronavirus in any of their interactions over the past two weeks or in their travels, and to immediately see a doctor if they develop any symptoms which correlate to the virus for testing.
- We are preparing certain apartments in our dormitories as possible quarantine areas for students who manifest symptoms that may correlate with the virus.
The crisis command team is actively monitoring the situation via updates and directives from the Federal Government, the Montana State Governors office, the Center for Disease Control risk factors seen in infographics such as can be found here: https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/
These plans are specific to the release date of this statement and may be altered depending on changing circumstances. In the midst of all the uncertainties, we hold firmly to the truth of Psalm 46:1- “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” It is our prayer that in the midst of the challenges of these days, the hope of the gospel will ring out across the world with clarity and power.