COVID-19 surge pushes Great Falls Public Schools to remote learning

Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS)
Posted at 3:05 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 10:51:45-05

GREAT FALLS — All Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) will be closed starting from Tuesday, Jan. 11, through Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 (MLK Holiday) due to a shortage of staff and an increase in the number of COVID-19 infected students.

GFPS said in a news release on Monday afternoon that it has been monitoring the COVID-19 spread since school started. On Monday, information was shared with the District COVID Task Force that the number of COVID-19 infected students and staff skyrocketed over the weekend.

As of Monday, GFPS has more than 125 staff out due to COVID-19 related illnesses. The GFPS substitute fill rate was below 46%, which meant that there were roughly 54 classrooms without substitutes across the district.

The total number of students and staff that are confirmed COVID-19 positive as of noon on Monday was 185 individuals. That is the highest number of infections GFPS have experienced this academic year.

The inability to cover classes adequately has prompted an analysis of the data regarding the infection rates in our schools and the recent upward trend in the community transmission rates over the past week.

The news release states: "As a result, the recommendation of the Task Force is that ALL GFPS SCHOOLS will be closed for the remainder of this week beginning, Tuesday, January 11th, and lasting through Monday, January 17, 2022 (MLK Holiday)."

GFPS will continue to monitor infection rates and hopefully resume regular classes on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The temporary closure will allow adequate time for staff to recover and return to work. In addition, the closure will reduce the rate of spreading infections.

During this time all students will move to remote learning. Students and teachers will communicate via email, remote websites, and the telephone.

High school students who are concerned about semester exams will be notified by their teachers for plans for their finals. If parents have questions about student assignments, please contact your child’s teacher or the school administration at their school. School offices will be open for regular school hours during this closure.

Meals will be available to all enrolled students from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the Paris Gibson Education Center. They will be distributed from the kitchen entrance on 25th Street. Limited options of cold meals will be provided along with a breakfast for the following day on Jan. 11 through Friday, Jan. 14.