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Western MT schools continuing to evaluate COVID-19 response

Florence Carlton School
Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 19:44:42-04

MISSOULA — School districts across Western Montana are continuing to decontaminate and consider next steps for dealing with a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

While we are expecting more developments over the next few days, MTN News has been checking with local school districts for an update.

While disinfecting and teaching students "best practices" continues to be main thrust, sources tell MTN News that the Montana Office of Public Instruction has scheduled a conference call with school superintendents for Friday which could bring updated directions.

Large and small school districts across the western half of the state are continuing to ramp up cleaning and disinfecting procedures. In most cases, it's simply ramping up what the schools are already doing because of the cold and flu season.

Yet at the same time, district administrators and staff are trying to envision what happens next, and additional steps needed if the outbreak gets a foothold here.

Checking with districts on Thursday, most say they're continuing to clean, and evaluate, following directions coming from the local county health departments.

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We have also found no indications anyone is changing that approach following Thursday's move to online classes by the Montana University System.

Kalispell Superintendent Mark Flatau says it's more difficult for K-12 programs to completely switch to online, although it's something being analyzed just in case.

In Hamilton, administrators are also considering what's need to implement that change, with teacher training starting Friday with a follow-up meeting Monday.

In smaller districts like Thompson Falls, Lone Rock, Target Range and Florence Carlton, administrators are continuing to follow the lead from local health departments and the CDC, as well as OPI.

For example, Florence Carlton Superintendent of Schools Bud Scully says administrators will meet next week to re-asses, with janitorial staff planning a "deep clean" over spring break.

Some of the districts tell MTN News they are at least partially capable of some online classes, thanks to the widespread use of Chromebooks and Google Classroom. But none are following UM's online move as of right now.