March 13, 2020
Dear Polson School District Families
Educational leaders across the state this morning participated in a conference call regarding the COVID-19 Virus. In light of current information regarding the Coronavirus we want to update you on the steps we are taking in Polson Schools as we plan for the broader implications for our staff and families.
This situation is very fluid and our school leaders are planning for possible school interruptions or closures due to the outbreak. While we are fortunate that Montana has no reported cases of the virus and the risk to our community still remains relatively low, our vigilance must be at the highest level. Please see a recently released press release from Governor Bullock's office declaring a state of emergency in Montana related to COVID-19.
Recommendations for Spring Break Travel
As spring break approaches, be aware that travel to some areas may result in restrictions for school attendance upon return. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel advisories for areas experiencing the coronavirus epidemic. Right now, the CDC is recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea, and Europe. You can check for updates at the following site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html
Please note that:
Any staff or student returning from a CDC designated Level 3 location will be required to stay home for 14 days after returning to the United States. (These advisories can change on short notice, as the disease spreads. If staff or students travel to a location that is added to the list prior to the end of spring break, they will be held to the same standards.)
Staff or students who return and are sick with a fever or cough or who have trouble breathing should call their health-care provider before seeking medical care in order to avoid spreading the disease to others in the medical setting.
If a person has a respiratory infection and a fever after interacting with someone who recently traveled to an impacted area, he or she should call a health-care provider as soon as possible.
We acknowledge that postponing or canceling plans can be inconvenient and difficult, but we are asking staff and students to re-evaluate spring break plans if they intend nonessential travel.
Guidelines for School Closure
In the event we have a confirmed case of coronavirus in or associated with our schools in Polson, we will work collaboratively with the lead local health official to determine next steps. Currently, our plan will include closing the impacted school for a minimum of three days. This closure will:
Give local health officials and school staff time to assess exposure of the known case within the school and trace the person’s contact history;
Allow school officials time to perform a thorough cleaning of the school, with particular attention to areas frequented by the known case;
Provide time for public health staff, assisted by school staff, to identify and communicate with families of students or staff who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus due to an underlying health condition;
Create time for the school to prepare for possible virtual learning or take-home work that would allow students who may miss a significant period of time (due to quarantine or underlying health issues) to be supported and continue their education; and
Develop a plan to provide for additional support as needed once the school re-opens.
Today we made the choice to cancel all after school community events and functions in our buildings. The High School DECA trip to Nashville has been canceled. Elementary wrestling has been canceled and our weekend ski bus to Whitefish is canceled. We are in contact with the Montana High School Association in regards to extracurricular activities and will monitor and adjust per their guidance.
In the event of school closures, our technology and leadership team is working on a Remote Schooling Plan. The Food and Nutrition team are developing options for our students who need free or reduced-cost meals and our maintenance and custodial team are finalizing the process to deep clean our buildings in the event of an outbreak.
We will continue to communicate with you regularly and appreciate your support and partnership to keep our community healthy. Please visit our Polson District Website for current information. www.polson.k12.mt.us
Remember we are in this together. Please teach and reinforce good hygiene with your children as we will at school. If your children are sick please keep them home. If they are exhibiting a cough, body aches, and or a fever please call Lake County Health Department to discuss options.
If you have specific questions about the virus, please call the Lake County Health Department at (406) 883-7288. For school-specific related inquiries, call Polson School District Office at (406) 883-6355.
Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent