KALISPELL — Flathead County Schools are prepared for positive coronavirus cases when they inevitably happen in schools.
As schools begin this fall, medical experts told MTN News that COVID-19 cases will happen in schools however, Flathead County has procedures in place when they do.
Kalispell Regional Medical Center COVID Response Team Incident commander Ryan Pitts explained that the hospital's job is to act as a resource for schools if someone tests positive.
"Between the county, and the schools and the hospital, we're just trying to work together and provide resources to this problem, to support these students," said Pitts.
He told MTN News that the hospital even has a specific nurse dedicated to answering questions for school nurses regarding coronavirus.
"Where the school nurses could contact her or some of our nurses and work through," he said. "What are the child's symptoms?"
He says the hospital also provides guidance for schools on deep cleaning after a positive case.
Bill Sullivan with Edgerton Elementary told MTN News that most schools have a safe, separate room for students with symptoms.
"All of our buildings have identified a place where a sick child could go to kinda keep them away from everybody else," said Sullivan.
Flathead County Health Department incident commander Tamalee Robinson told MTN News that if there is a positive case, they will immediately identify close contacts through contact tracing and quarantine them.
She says the quick response protocol is in place to avoid disrupting the school's environment.
"We want to avoid opening and closing the school for every single case," said Robinson. "You know, COVID is going to be around for a while and it doesn't make much sense to open and close the school with every case."
Schools have safety plans in place like assigned seats for contact tracing, socially distancing students, and masking.
Edgerton Elementary School principal Jen Stein says their students have responded well to the changes.
"The kids have been amazing and when I ask them about it, they're just so happy to see one another," said Stein. "And we teach those expectations right away and they're just doing it."
With these plans in place, Tamalee Robinson told MTN News that the hope is to contain positive cases and prevent an outbreak from occurring.