HELENA – Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced new coronavirus response protocols Thursday for K-12 schools, as many schools across the state enter their third week of instruction.
The plan is meant to help schools take public health-based measure to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and keep students safe, and was released after requests from school nurses and education advocates for clear guidance, the governor said during a news conference Thursday.
“By following these protocols in consultation with local public health, our schools can properly quarantine, recommend testing, and take other measures to minimize the spread and keeps kids healthy while preserving in person learning for the students and families who depend on it,” Bullock said.
The protocols were designed by a group of public health experts, and are based on a plan put together by Rhode Island.
The protocols, available online, include information on COVID-19 symptoms; when to call for emergency care; how to determine close contacts; when to quarantine, isolate, and recommend testing; and when to allow students and staff to return to school.
“It is important that the public knows when a student or staff member tests positive in school, and we’re working on how we can make sure that parents and staff have the information they need while also protecting the privacy of individual students and teachers,” Bullock said.
The guidance comes as some school districts in Montana have reversed course on policies banning spectators at athletic events, permitting some fans to attend after coming under pressure from those angry over the ban, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.
The Billings Gazette reported Thursday that Billing Public Schools will admit two fans per student for visiting teams at athletic events, after originally barring all spectators.