Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

COVID-19 closes Box Elder, Harlem school buildings


Last updated 9/29/2020 at 12:04pm

Both Harlem and Box Elder public schools have closed their buildings after cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the districts and moved back to distanced learning.

Harlem School District announced Monday that at 10 a.m. it was notified that a school district staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and in-class school has been dismissed.

"School officials are working closely and consistently with both Fort Belknap Tribal Health and Blaine County Health Department to determine if there are any risks to the rest of our school and staff populations," Superintendent Doreen Warren and Blaine County Health Department Lead Local Health Official Jana McPherson-Hauer said in a communication to the Harlem School District Community.

"Out of an abundance of caution, school is being dismissed immediately, and we will be teaching remotely until at least Oct. 9," the release said.

Box Elder Superintendent Jeremy MacDonald put out an announcement Monday that that district also had a case of COVID-19 confirmed in its facilities.

MacDonald said the district buildings would be closed to students for the rest of the week and teachers would be working with students using the district's distanced learning platforms.

The announcements follow Havre Public Schools reporting it was notified of a confirmed case in the district Sept. 20 and Chinook Public Schools reporting it was notified of a confirmed case Sept. 22.

No new cases have been reported by those districts.

Chinook Superintendent Darin Hannum said this morning that his district has several students absent due to contact tracing with positive adult cases in the community.   

"We are having to tighten down our protocols at school and school events," he said. "Our students have been fantastic with the tighter protocols at school."

The cases in the schools follow a surge in Hill County, which saw 19 new cases Sunday and seven more Monday, bringing the total in the county to 176 cases, with 47 active, two hospitalizations and three deaths.

Hill County has 126 recovered cases.

Blaine County reported seven new confirmed cases Monday, with a total of 29 cases, 11 active and 18 recovered.

Chouteau County reported no new cases with a total listed on the state tracking map as 29, 11 active and 18 recovered, and Liberty County is listed as with one new case, six active and 14 recovered for a total of 20 cases.

The Harlem release said the COVID response in that district will be an ongoing effort and the district will update families and the community as the situation develops throughout the school year.

"Do not send kids to school if they are sick," the release said. "Please do not go to work if you have a cough or shortness of breath."

"Please stay safe and wear your masks," the release added.

MacDonald said the Box Elder district plans to continue its meal program as scheduled.

He said the district will try to keep everyone informed as it is able.


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