Bullock announces state guidance for schools responding to COVID-19

Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 10:30:16-04

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock announced a new set of protocols Thursday to help Montana schools know how to handle potential COVID-19 cases.

Bullock said during a news conference Thursday that his office put together the guidance after he received requests from a number of school nurses and educators. He said the state medical officer and other health experts worked on the plan.

The protocols cover what COVID-19 symptoms schools should check for, when someone needs to be isolated or quarantined, and when they should be allowed to return to school. They also include advice for holding sports and other extracurricular activities, and about what information can be released if someone tests positive.

“It is important that the public knows when a student or staff member tests positive in school,” said Bullock. “We’re working on how we can make sure that parents and staff have the information that they need, while also protecting the privacy of individual students and teachers.”

You can view the protocols here.

Bullock said schools should use the protocols as high-level guidance, and that they should work with their local public health departments on more specific plans. He also said the guidance may evolve in the coming months.

“We know too well that the virus and its impacts have changed rapidly over the last six months, and we should certainly expect that to continue,” he said.

Also during Thursday’s news conference, Bullock announced additional funding for two COVID relief programs. The state will commit $25 million to the Social Services Nonprofit Grants program. Additional money will also be provided for the Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant program.