NewsMissoula County


MCPS working with health officials to address coronavirus

Posted at 6:44 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 16:14:14-05

MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rob Watson says the district will work with the Missoula City-County Health Department when it comes to addressing coronavirus in the public schools.

Dr. Watson stated in his monthly newsletter to MCPS families that they will work closely with local health officials and take their guidance as they develop their response and how coronavirus may impact schools.

The superintendent furthers explained that the MCPS response plan may include things they have done for previous flu and pertussis outbreaks. That includes recommendations for when staff should exclude themselves or students from school, cleaning protocols, and referrals to local health providers for testing.

Dr. Watson says the standard advice that the district provides to staff and parents for any illness is to stay home from school if you are ill with symptoms that have you feeling too sick to participate in usual school activities and seek medical advice from your primary care provider as needed.


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information about coronavirus on their website, including the following:


CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).

On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concernexternal icon” (PHEIC). On January 31, 2020, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency (PHE) for the United States to aid the nation’s healthcare community in responding to COVID-19.

Source and Spread of the Virus

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.

Early on, many of the patients at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Person-to-person spread was subsequently reported outside Hubei and in countries outside China, including in the United States. Some international destinations now have apparent community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, meaning some people have been infected who are not sure how or where they became infected. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.