Valier students shift to remote learning due to COVID

Posted at 3:00 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 17:00:40-04

Valier Public Schools will transition to remote learning for two weeks after another staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.

The first day of remote learning was Friday, October 9. Remote learning will continue until Wednesday, October 21, and in-person classes will tentatively resume on Thursday, October 22. All school events are postponed until further notice as the Pondera County Health Department conducts contact tracing, according to Superintendent Julie Gaffney.

Students will be under a a modified class schedule during the remote learning period; click here for details on the school website. Junior high school and high school students who do not log on at the beginning of online classes will be marked tardy, like on a regular school day.

Gaffney said the decision to shift to remote learning was made "because of the nature and extent of the risk involved" and that "student and staff safety is our number one priority." She said the first day of remote learning wasn't without hiccups, but was "outstanding" overall. She said a small number of families in the district do not have access to internet. The district is working with those families to set up Wi-Fi hotspots through the public library.

"I think the most important message I can send is each case of COVID and each school is unique," Gaffney told MTN News. "It's that uniqueness and the inquiries .... that determine whether you take a drastic measure as we did with going remote for two weeks."

As of Thursday, the Pondera County Health Department reported 55 active coronavirus cases in the county, 50 of which have recovered. The county reports a cumulative total of 106 confirmed cases and one death.

For more information on the school closure in Valier, visit the district's website or call Gaffney at 406-279-3613 or 406-505-0065.

COVID-19 in Montana (Friday October 9)

There were 715 new cases and nine new deaths added to the total on the Montana COVID-19 tracking site on Friday morning. The data below is from the official Montana website on October 9:

  • TOTAL CASES & RECOVERIES: There have been 17,399 cumulative cases statewide, with 10,863 people recovered.
  • HOSPITALIZATIONS: There are 266 current hospitalizations, and a cumulative total of 868 hospitalizations.
  • DEATHS: The cumulative number of deaths in Montana is at 206.
  • ACTIVE CASES: The state reports there are currently 6,330 active COVID-19 cases in Montana.
  • TESTING: There were 5,081 completed tests, for a new cumulative state-wide total of 386,746.

Based on data from county public health departments, MTN News is also reporting 205 total deaths as of Friday. Numbers reported by the state each day occasionally differ from those reported by county public health departments due to periodic lag times in reporting data to the state. We encourage people to check the official website and/or Facebook page of their respective county health department for any information that is not yet included in the state's daily updates.

The five following counties reported the most new cases: Yellowstone, 155; Flathead, 136; Gallatin 61; Cascade, 43 New; Big Horn, 30.

It's important to note that not every person who tests positive actually becomes ill or exhibits symptoms. Many do not; of those who do become sick, some experience mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization. Others, however, do require hospitalization, as noted in the daily update on the number of people hospitalized. However, every person who does test positive for COVID-19 has the potential to spread the virus to other people, including family members and friends, which is why public health officials continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain at least the recommended six feet of "social distance" when in public.