School district details COVID policies as cases increase
Last updated 9/7/2021 at 12:18pm
The COVID surge continues to hit the state and Hill County, with Hill County Health Department Friday reporting 25 new cases and Havre Public Schools reporting 12 confirmed cases that day.
Montana this morning listed more than 6,000 active cases with more than 1,200 new confirmed cases, with 274 hospitalizations and more than 1,800 deaths since the pandemic hit the state.
The Havre schools release reported three people who had contact with others in the district at Highland Park Early Primary School, one who had contact at Lincoln-McKinley Primary School, one who had contact at Sunnyside Intermediate School, four at Havre Middle School and three at Havre High School.
The dates listed for contact ranged from Aug. 25 to last Friday.
The release said any person associated with the district who is at risk of exposure will be contacted by Hill County Health Department or Havre Public Schools Nurse Jeri Zorn to determine a safe and appropriate course of action.
"It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, seek out their medical provider for specific instructions," the release said. "The school district is in contact with the health department and reviewing the Centers for Disease Control guidance to complete cleaning the school and other related facilities. The other steps taken by the school district include the continuation of social/physical distancing, encouraging face coverings, and frequent hand washing and hand sanitizing. Contact the superintendent for details about these measures. School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available."
The release adds that the health department staff members will continue to contact trace close contacts to the best of their ability until they are no longer able to keep up with the number of people who will need to be contacted. Havre Public Schools is working on a plan and procedures to notify parents of their options related to quarantines:
1) take advantage of off-site learning, or
2) send asymptomatic students to school.
"These are options that will allow students to be in school, receiving face-to-face instruction," the release said. "It is important that we are all vigilant in monitoring symptoms, and encouraging students and one another to stay home if symptomatic."
School policies on contacts, confirmed cases
A release detailing options for students issued by Havre Superintendent Craig Mueller Friday said it has been a constantly changing situation with additional guidance and recommendations being made on a frequent basis.
"I appreciate the flexibility and understanding during these especially challenging times from our parents, students, families and staff," Mueller said in the release.
The release said the Havre district will continue to follow the same protocols and procedures outlined during the 2020-2021 school year for people who test positive for COVID-19. Additional guidance for these situations will be provided directly from the Hill County Health Department.
Parents or guardians will be notified if their child is considered a "close contact" during the time of possible exposure to COVID-19, the release said. A close contact is defined as someone who has been within 6 feet for longer than 15 minutes during a 24-hour period to someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Parents will have options regarding the safe return to school for people who are considered close contacts.
• Students may take advantage of off-site learning for a period of 10 days without penalty to their attendance record. Students will be allowed to continue working with their teacher through Google classroom or another learning platform established by the school, or complete work at home via packets, assignments, or other platforms.
• Off-site instruction for students is available under state law and Havre Public School District Policy 1906 to help prevent learning loss while protecting others in the school building from possible exposure.
• Students will receive full credit for all work completed. Failure to engage in learning activities may affect a student's grade.
• Students will not be able to participate in student activities during the off-site learning assignment as a precaution to prevent exposure and transmission.
• Students who are excluded from school due to COVID-19-related issues will be afforded the opportunity, as soon as feasible when they are well enough to participate in classwork, to make up any missed classwork without penalty in order to reduce mental or physical anxieties about missed academic opportunities.
• Parents or guardians who are contacted and informed that their child has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, if not presenting any symptoms, may attend school and participate in all extracurricular activities and events.
• A student developing symptoms at school will result in protocols outlined in HPS Policy 3417.
• Students with any illness should be fever free for 24 hours in addition to improving symptoms prior to returning to school. In most cases, COVID-19 is clinically indistinguishable from other common respiratory illnesses. COVID-19 testing may be required to determine if a student is virus free. In this case, the student and other family members should remain home until testing results are known.
• The school district has BINAX Now rapid testing available to interested students and staff. Contact the school district nurse, Jeri Zorn at 390-2210 about availability of testing at the Robins School Administrative Building or people can schedule a test with your primary provider.
• It is imperative that if students are not feeling well and are presenting symptoms, that they not attend school. People are asked to communicate with the building secretary or building principal if their child is sick and will not be attending school.
The release said additional questions about the transition to off-site learning, if necessary, can be directed to:
• The child's building principal
• Special Services Director Karla Geda, [email protected]
• Assistant Superintendent Brad Moore, [email protected]
• Superintendent Craig Mueller, [email protected]
Local COVID numbers
With the 25 new confirmed cases Friday, not counting any more cases through the weekend - the next health department update will be today - Hill County that day had 112 active cases with five active hospitalizations.
Blaine County Friday reported Friday two new cases with 40 active and two active hospitalizations.
The state tracking map update this morning listed one new case in Liberty County with eight active cases.
Chouteau County was listed on the state update with five new cases and 11 active cases.
Statewide, the map's update this morning listed 1,223 new cases with 6,366 active cases, 274 hospitalizations and 1,814 deaths.