Warmest greetings to the Montana Bible College community!
Good news! Montana Bible College is still on track to be fully open and resume in-person classes for fall semester 2020. Our approach in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic is to exercise common sense by evaluating actual data and assessing real risk to the best of our ability. We are seeking to live in submission to governing authorities and to implement directives in the way that makes best sense given our situation. (As of this publication, the MBC administration was aware of the local COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths within 24 hours, as well as the CDC composite predictive modeling for the next four weeks, as well as the pandemic death curve and science related to the virus life-cycle. The administration also took into account the college’s geographic location, size, demographic, and other factors. Finally, we took into account the applicable government mandates and the Evangelical Free Church of Bozeman’s COVID policy.)
What students can expect, given current mandates:
- Risk Mitigation Measures:
- All students will be screened and assessed for COVID risk level shortly before the start of the school year (it doesn’t make sense to screen earlier, or the screening would be out-dated).
- Screening measures will also be in place for visitors traveling to MBC’s campus.
- Students will sign an Acknowledgment of Risk and Pledge of Good Faith Compliance form.
- Hand sanitization stations will be strategically located around campus.
- Student residences will incorporate common sense sanitation measures.
- MBC is making its courses available in hybrid format to students whose ability to physically attend has been altered by the pandemic.
- Compliance with the “mask mandate”: MBC will comply with the governor’s mask mandate as issued on July 15, 2020.
- Student Residences: Masks are not necessary in student apartments. Masks only need to be worn in “indoor spaces open to the public”. Likewise, the Student Union and entry spaces to the apartments are not public spaces since access is by key card only. However, MBC will ask that masks be worn in the Student Union and entry spaces if non MBC visitors are invited in.
- Office and Library: Masks do need to be worn in the MBC office and library since they are open to the public. MBC staff will wear face coverings while interacting with students and visitors in MBC’s public office and library. Face coverings are not required for employees in non public-facing work spaces. (Per mandate exception stating “Only those employees, volunteers, and contractors in public-facing work spaces are required to wear face coverings as specified in this Directive”) If a student or visitor is invited in to an MBC employee’s personal office space, he or she may remove the face covering, though social distancing should be maintained as possible. (This is in keeping with the intent of the Directive as we understand it under definitions of “indoor spaces open to the public” which lists example spaces “or other spaces where people gather” and states, “The term does not include private residences not open to the public.” A private meeting in an employee’s private office, which is not a public gathering space, is a time when face coverings may be removed if desired.)
- Classes: According to the Evangelical Free Church of Bozeman’s COVID policy, masks must be worn by everyone at all times while in their building. It is MBC’s desire to be good tenants, and we will comply with this request of our brothers and sisters. There will be a designated room where students can hang out and eat. Masks will not be required while eating. Also, masks may be removed when a student is asking a question/making a comment in class. We will all hope for the soonest possible lifting of the mask requirement, but for the time being, we’ll be patient and considerate of others, especially given the spectrum of opinions and convictions on the matter. We’ll keep OUR focus on God’s kingdom!
- Medical Exceptions: For any medical exceptions regarding mask wearing, as allowed per the governor’s mandates, please send an email to our VP of Academic Affairs, Andre Gazal, at email@example.com
- Contingency Plans
- MBC will work with the Gallatin County Health Department and local healthcare providers should testing or treatment measures be necessary.
- MBC has the ability to quarantine single apartment units or to provide a quarantine apartment for students who are positive or being tested for COVID-19 or have had close contact with others who have tested positive. We successfully navigated the quarantine of apartments during the Spring 2020 semester, and we can do so again if needed.
- MBC has the ability to quarantine a whole building or suspend in-person classes for a time if necessary.
We eagerly anticipate the start of the new semester! Let the mission of MBC continue ahead as we follow Jesus our Lord!
Ryan Ward – President
Hello MBC Community!
- Our plans meet or exceed all of Governor Steve Bullock’s guidelines for Phase 1 of Montana’s reopening plan.
- We have spoken with the Gallatin County Health Department and also received their “green light” on our plans.
- Friday, May 8, 1:00 PM (Eat lunch before you come)
- South parking lot – Grace Bible Church
The ceremony will be live-streamed! This accommodates people who cannot attend due to out-of-state travel restrictions (Montana is still directing a 2-week quarantine for out-of-state travelers), personal health concerns, or necessary group size limitations.
Attendees: Immediate family/friends of graduates are invited to attend, but limited to a maximum of 10 guests per graduate. MBC Faculty, Staff, and Board are invited to attend, limited to themselves and their immediate family members. Current MBC students, along with their spouses and children, are invited to attend. Please RSVP here so MBC can properly prepare the seating/parking arrangements.
Festive Decorations: MBC school color balloons will be distributed. Graduates are encouraged to decorate their cars. Remember 2020 – the year of the pandemic!
Good Weather Plan: Guests and participants will be seated outdoors with appropriate social distancing between individuals or household “pods”. A “bring your own lawn chair” practice will be encouraged – see RSVP form. Graduates and faculty will be in full regalia. A sound system will be set up.
Bad Weather Plan: A canopy will keep rain off the speakers and sound equipment. Guests and participants may choose to “brave the elements” under umbrellas or wearing rain gear or snow gear. Or they may retreat to their vehicles. Graduates and faculty will take indoor pictures in regalia and then leave regalia there so it is not damaged.
Ceremony: The ceremony will be quite traditional and formal, including commencement speakers and the presentation of degrees. Graduates will be called up individually and diplomas (having been freshly disinfected) will be handed to them by a single MBC official. There will be no traditional handshakes or hugs, but pantomime is acceptable.
Photography: Individual graduate photos will be taken earlier in the day as part of the graduation rehearsal. Group photos of epic proportions with all the appropriate distancing will be taken. Sorry, but we can’t allow “hug a friend” photos outside of individual households. MBC photographers will post pictures for downloading by family and friends.
- MBC desires for this to be a POSITIVE event in our community – something the community can be proud of – a creatively held event meeting and exceeding all health regulations – something that can even be a model of good citizenship for others.
Dear MBC Students:
With the recent expiration of the “shelter at home” order and Montana’s progression into the first phase reopening plan under the direction of the Governor, the MBC administration has decided to adjust some of the policies implemented weeks ago to protect our student body during the outbreak of COVID-19.
1. We are lifting our restrictions on outside guests visiting students inside the dormitories with the following exceptions:
a) such visitors must be been free of any of the presenting symptoms of the virus (dry cough, fever, breathing difficulties, fatigue, body aches, runny nose, loss of taste, or smell).
b) such visitors must not have been in direct contact with anyone who has been positively diagnosed with the virus in the last 30 days.
c) such visitors must not be under the 14-day out-of-state mandatory quarantine (this applies to travelers who have recently entered the state from another state).
d) the number of visitors permitted is limited to the total that can properly social distance (6 feet apart) in the largest meeting area. In no instance, should the group size ever exceed 10.
e) proper sanitizing of frequently touched hard surfaces before and after guest visits is strongly encouraged.
f) the restriction on overnight guests remains in place (no overnight visitors to MBC).
2. We are easing our restrictions on library use:
a) starting tomorrow, the doors to the library will be unlocked. No appointments will be necessary any longer.
b) proper social distancing will still be required (6 feet apart).
c) no visits if you are ill or have been ill within the last 14 days.
d) there will be no access to conference rooms that are currently being used for online instruction.
e) the hours of operation will be as follows for this week (April 28-May 1)
Tuesday: 9am – 1pm & 5pm – 7pm
Wednesday: 9am – 3pm & 5pm – 7pm
Thursday: 9am – 4 pm & 5pm – 6pm
Friday: 9am – 4 pm
A new schedule will be posted for next week.
3. We are re-opening our office center to student visits with the following restrictions:
a) no congregating in any area.
b) no visits if you are ill or have been ill within the last 14 days.
c) visits with instructors or administrative staff should be scheduled in advance and may be restricted based upon health risk factors.
d) no outside guests may accompany you to the offices. Only MBC students and their spouses at this time.
e) some of the exterior doors of Grace Bible Church may still be locked and inaccessible. This may require you to come around to the East Entrance and alert us that you would like to come inside.
Thank you for the incredible amount of patience you have shown in voluntarily submitting to the protocols of the past few weeks. We know it has not been easy and your broad cooperation has been another evidence of the quality of our students we have been blessed with. It is our hope to conclude this most unusual semester celebrating God’s protection and provision during this difficult period in our nation’s history.
- Our staff and faculty will work from home as possible; on-site as necessary.
- Staff members will have more or less necessary on-site function as their duties require.
- Faculty members can still teach from the library conference rooms as set up earlier this week. This new directive does not change our class plan.
- The MBC office will be closed to all non-employees. Student mailbox items may be delivered to students at the door.
- The library will support essential faculty and student teaching and learning, but the library will remain closed to the public and will implement practices in keeping with the directive.
- Students whio live in MBC housing or elsewhere in Montana, as citizens, are to follow the “stay at home” order. If you are unsure how that affects you and if your employment is exempted, read the directive linked above.
Thanks for upholding one another in prayer and through encouragement! Keep it up, brothers and sisters! Don’t let one another become discouraged, but strengthen one another in the Lord.
To MBC Students:
Today, our crisis response team in coordination with our administration, met to discuss how we can best serve our students in this time of national disruption because of the coronavirus. Certainly, the events of the last couple of weeks have been unusual and unprecedented. We have been actively monitoring both public policy and private operational decisions of other similar institutions.
After carefully weighing the many variables as well as soliciting input from our staff and faculty, we have decided that we will finish the spring 2020 semester in a fully online mode. While certainly not our first preference (we had hoped to resume face-to-face classes), we believe this option is the best for the following reasons: 1) It avoids continual confusion and disruption. Our students and instructors need to be able to plan for completion of the semester without worrying about additional changes due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the unknowns of additional public policy measures. Trying to continue face-to-face classes would have prolonged uncertainty. 2) This decision is proactive, rather than reactive, in safeguarding the health of all who are connected to the College.
We will still resume classes on Monday, March 30, in a live and fully participatory online mode (details below). Your class schedule will remain the same! Classes will be held on the same days and times, and the attendance policy remains unchanged. Despite this change of modality, we are fully committed to delivering the high-quality educational content you expect and MBC is known for. We are also committed to helping you finish the semester successfully. Thank you for your prayers and patience with us during this time. We love you and are upholding you and your families before the Father daily.
Continue reading for a FAQ list which we hope will help answer the many questions that will undoubtedly arise from this decision. If there are other questions you have or other ways we can be of service to you, please do not hesitate to contact one of us. We will be reaching out to each student individually.
Dear Montana Bible College Students,
I would like to simply share my heart with all of you for a few moments with the hope that it will bring encouragement and some perspective.
We are all being affected by the coronavirus in many ways beyond our control. To be open and vulnerable with all of you, my own family has been drastically affected this week in that the buyer for our house got cold feet because of the economic situation. He then found a loophole in the contract and backed out less than 24 hours before closing. Ouch! That costs our family a few thousand dollars immediately, and it could cost us many tens of thousands of dollars as we have to look at selling our house again in a very changed housing market. Perhaps some of you are facing similar challenges with yourselves or family members being laid off or losing jobs or having other significant hardships. I want to encourage all of us to reach out and support one another even as you have been doing. Even as I shared our deep disappointment with our staff, they poured out their love in return. I have spoken with multiple of you who have shared with me how you intend to show a watching world the light of Christ through your actions and witness. Yes! This is how God’s people respond in times of crisis! We do not despair.
The events of recent weeks have proven that our world is incredibly fragile. Whether it be an earthquake caused by shifting tectonic plates or a global pandemic caused by a microscopic virus, our world is easily shaken. By contrast, our confidence is in God who is the reigning King of an unshakeable kingdom (Heb. 12:28) and in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (James 1:17). He is infinite in wisdom and power and even when we are deeply impacted by forces outside of our control, his nearness and love for us remain constant (Ps. 73:28). Rest in that assurance and stand firm in it!
By way of perspective, let me suggest that we look at the remainder of this semester as one that will undoubtedly be the most memorable college experience any student has had in decades! Yet it is not a time to retreat, but continue to move forward. We will not shrink back from our mission. We will fulfill the purpose for which God has put each one of us here at Montana Bible College. We are going to learn to love him more deeply, to know him more intimately, and to serve him more passionately. We are being trained as servants of the King! As a follower of Jesus, one can look at the coronavirus as a huge disruption, or an unprecedented opportunity. I say we seized that opportunity! This will be the most unique and exciting end to a semester in our history as a college and possibly for you as a student. It will be filled with the unexpected so we ask you to be flexible and patient. It will also cause us to trust the God we serve in greater ways than ever.
So, continue to watch for communications from your leadership. Stay in communication with us as needs, challenges and opportunities arise in your lives and be assured we will stay in communication with you. We are here to support you in any way we can as a staff. Also, stay on your game as students who have a purpose yet to fulfill. We are not done. We are in this together.
For now, classes will be suspended for this upcoming week following spring break as announced earlier this week, with the hope and expectation that we can reconvene regular classes again on March 30th with online options for those who cannot or choose not to attend because of complications with the coronavirus. We are implementing new methods of content delivery even as I write this letter which may require some modifications to the courses so be attentive to communication from your instructors. Remember you all remain students and it is our goal to help each of you complete this semester successfully.
May you have a great weekend, even as many of you worship in small group settings as your churches have also adjusted. Remember, seize the many gospel opportunities and hold securely to the promises of scripture!
With love in Christ,
Dear Staff, Faculty, Students, and Community members of Gail Horton Library,
Due to the recommendation of Montana Bible College, the Library will be closed to the public until further notice. Library staff will extend all community due dates through the end of April, and fines accrued in the last week will be forgiven.
For students the library will maintain the Spring Break hours this week, and will be closed the following week (March 23-26). As assignments are still due next week, the library will open by prearranged appointments. If you need into the library for any reason (printing, checking out books, reserve reading) you will need to make an appointment with Christa, Hattie, or myself. Please note that we do not have unlimited availability for appointments. If possible please keep appointments for library use between 8am-5pm Monday-Friday. We will try to accommodate your schedule as best we can. Appointment can be made by calling (406) 586-3585 ex. 25 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If you need to check books out, please email a list of the books you would like to the librarian available for your appointment (use the online catalog link on the library page to browse books). They will be checked out and ready to go when you come for your appointment. If you are out of town for the next week and need resources, the librarians can scan and email limited pages of resources (1 chapter or less). We highly recommend the use of the theological database for any research papers. If you need help finding articles we would be happy to do so.
We will also be limiting the number of students allowed in each room to less than 8. This should not be a big change as it is unusual to have 8 or more students in a room.
Library student service jobs will not be filled until classes resume.
Faculty, if there is anything the library can do to support you in the coming weeks please let us know! We will do our best to make this time as easy for you as we can.
The library will be taking some cautionary measures such as wiping down books as they are returned, and wiping down hard surfaces and handles regularly, and using gloves (as available) to handle books.
Thank you for being understanding in this unique time period!
Dear MBC Students:
These are interesting times to say the least! The spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has made an indelible mark on all facets of public and private life and certainly creates unique circumstances for colleges such as ours. Yet in the midst of these challenges, our hope remains sure in God’s unchanging promises to provide and care for His children in times of need. Our staff members are smiling and joyful even as we tackle these issues.
In the midst of the currently fluid situation in our country, we remain committed to the safety, health, and well-being of all our students, staff and faculty. We are also devising contingency plans that will allow for continued academic progress and completion through the end of the semester. Here are some important updates related to both of these objectives:
- Having just received word yesterday that Governor Bullock has directed all public schools in Montana to close through March 27th, we believe it is prudent to follow in step with these mandates. Therefore on-campus classes will not be held from March 23rd – March 26th following spring break. Corresponding to this closure, there will be no chapels and no Tuesday lunch. However, just because classes will not meet, it does not necessarily mean assignment due dates have been invalidated. Please continue to see yourself as a student through this time and to the end of this academic year and use the extra time to complete reading and projects as assigned.
- Though our aim is to minimize disruption to MBC, we are prepared for any range of options.
- It is possible that class lectures will be delivered in an online format for a time. The “worst case” scenario still allows for the completion of the semester even if some course syllabi must be restructured. We have been given broad latitude by the U.S. Department of Education and our accreditation agency to make accommodation for this unprecedented event. Please watch for an email from your individual instructors and professors related to your specific classes and how classroom content will be delivered.
- All residence halls remain open and will continue to remain open for current residential students; however, in the interests of protecting our student body from any transmission of the virus from outside sources, we are no longer allowing overnight guests on our campus starting immediately, unless an exception has been granted by the Dean of Students. This restriction remains in effect until revoked.
- It is imperative that all MBC students diligently practice the precautions given by CDC- frequent handwashing with soap, appropriate social distancing, disinfecting frequently touched hard surfaces, avoiding large gatherings, and self-quarantine if you are feeling ill. We currently have two apartments in both the men’s and women’s units, designated as quarantine areas if any of our students contracts the virus. If the need should arise, be aware that it may require some students to move into a new apartment for a period of time. No students are currently reporting any suspicious illness and no students or staff have tested positive for the virus.
- If you are currently away from campus, please update the Dean of Students (firstname.lastname@example.org) on your current geographic location and your plans to return to campus. For students currently residing on campus, please alert us to any specific needs you have which you cannot meet on your own. We will do all we can to assist.
- Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for the most current updates from the administration.
In the midst of the uncertainty of the times, let’s seize the opportunity to put our faith into action. In contrast to hoarding and greediness, let’s shine with unusual deeds of kindness and generosity. In contrast to fear and panic, let’s display our trust in God with confidence. We remember the words of the psalmist in Psalm 125:1- “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” and the assuring and pointed words of our Savior to his followers, “… do not be anxious about your life…” (Matthew 6:25).
We are praying for you and your loved ones to be protected and provided for during this crisis. Please pray for us as well.
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.