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Kalispell school district details coronavirus prevention efforts

Posted at 11:24 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 13:24:43-04

KALISPELL — The Kalispell Public School District (KPS) is detailing its efforts to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19).

Superintendent Mark Flatau states in a letter sent to families and students that “we can protect our students, staff, and the broader community by using these simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses.”

He added that teachers, school nurses, and staff are working to encourage frequent handwashing, covering every cough or sneeze, and cleaning classroom tables and surfaces frequently.

"These steps are important not just to help prevent the spread of coronavirus but to also help prevent the spread of other infections that can lead to staff and student illnesses and absences," Flatau noted in the letter.

Some specific steps KPS has taken to address concerns are:

  • Canceling a high school student trip planned this spring break to Japan.
  • Monitoring a high school student trip planned this spring break to Costa Rica.
  • Monitoring a high school student trip planned this summer to France.
  • Cleaning schools on a regular basis with added precautions to disinfect hard surfaces and areas that have high use.
  • Working closely with other schools in the valley, along with the Flathead County/City Health Department, to determine best practices and possible conditions that could impact school schedules.
  • Staying in close contact with the Office of Public Instruction and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).
  • Staying current on breaking news coming from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Working with local officials such as the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce to coordinate local services and communication.

Flatau says KPS will provide updates about the coronavirus and that the district "will work diligently in maintaining a healthy and safe learning environment.”

The virus can cause respiratory symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe pneumonia. While coronavirus cases have now been identified in Washington State there are no confirmed cases in Montana.

Additional information about coronavirus can be found on the CDC's website, including the following:

Outbreaks of novel virus infections among people are always of public health concern. The risk to the general public from these outbreaks depends on characteristics of the virus, including how well it spreads between people; the severity of resulting illness; and the medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (for example, vaccines or medications that can treat the illness). That this disease has caused severe illness, including illness resulting in death is concerning, especially since it has also shown sustained person-to-person spread in several places. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus.

It is important to note that current circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and CDC’s risk assessment will be updated as needed.

Current risk assessment:

  • For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on the location.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure, with increase in risk dependent on location.

CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.