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Havre Public Schools continuing distanced learning


April 29, 2020

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Northern Montana Health Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Harada joins the Havre School Board special meeting in the Havre Middle School gymnasium Tuesday via Zoom to provide a update on the state of COVID-19 locally Tuesday.

The Havre School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to continue with its remote learning plan rather than re-opening its classrooms.

Before the vote, Superintendent Andy Carlson said he didn't expect to be given the option to open May 7.

Gov. Steve Bullock ordered March 15 that public K-12 schools move to distanced learning to reduce exposure to novel coronavirus 2019.

When he announced the state was moving to the first phase of of a re-opening plan

"I truly believed that we would have another two week extension of our remote learning plan, that wasn't the case," Superintendent Andy Carlson said. "... I don't believe we're staffed nor do we have the resources to open school on May 7."

He said he didn't see a way for the students and teachers to meet face-to-face based on Gov. Steve Bullock's directive.

Northern Montana Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kevin Harada talked to the board about what re-opening the school could mean for the hospital.

"We have had an increase in our testing and the majority of our testing comes out of our flu clinic, which is going to remain open with no time schedule to close," he said. "We have both rapid testing on-site and we have some testing that we send to the state lab, now our testing is still limited by the CDC guidelines, which means we test symptomatic."

If there were to be a contact at a school or at an event, he said, the majority of the people that are identified as the contact would be sent to quarantine or self-isolation and people who were symptomatic would be tested.

He said having large gatherings makes it difficult for tracing because there can be so many exposures with just one person.

"We are not set up for large-scale testing, we test most symptomatic patients, but if there was a large-scale exposure the majority of the intervention would be self-isolation and monitoring those symptoms," Harada said. "... We are hoping to be more aggressive with testing, we're just not sure, but as of right now, large-scale testing is just difficult for us."

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Havre Board of Trustees Chair Aileen Couch speaks on the suspension of district policy 1310 Tuesday during a special meeting of the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees in the gym at Havre Middle School.

Carlson said the school district would continue to serve the students through online remote learning through June 30.

"Everything we are currently doing we'll continue to do, there are some policy questions that will be needed to put into place as we work forward in our remote learning plan, but our primary platform of service will continue as it is right now," he said. "... We've ordered thermometers. That's one of the things we've done, so we can check temperatures even if students come in and pick up stuff," he said. 

The grab and go food services will continue, as well, he said.

As for summer programs, Carlson said, he doesn't know yet how this will be affected as well the fall school year.

"We need to watch and see what the governor's directives are going to be going forward because we are not done with that and we need to watch CDC guidelines," he said.


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