Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, citing “the potential for extraordinary health risks from coronavirus in our state,” on Sunday afternoon ordered public K-12 schools to close from March 16 until March 27.
The decision to close schools was made to slow the spread of the coronavirus responsible for the disease COVID-19 and was not in response to an outbreak in schools, according to a news release from his office.
Schools will “make arrangements to provide free meals to students who need them ... and to provide for all other matters and services that students need in the event of future or ongoing closure,” the release states.
Bullock’s directive came within hours of Jefferson High School notifying parents that it would close early on Monday so that staff could meet to plan for what was then an unplanned extended closure. Following Bullock’s announcement Jefferson High announced via social media that it would indeed close for two weeks.
Boulder Elementary School Principal and Superintendent Maria Pace confirmed her school’s closure in a text to The Monitor.
In a posting to the Montana City School Facebook page, the school announced that spring break would extend its closure to April 6, and that staff would go into school Monday “to finalize the plan of how to best deliver instruction and resources to our students during the shutdown.”
“Once details are finalized, we will communicate to parents,” the post continued.
Clancy School had not posted to its Facebook page as of 8 p.m.
Bullock’s directive extended beyond school closures to include limiting “all gatherings, especially those more than 50 people” and that people 60 years old and older -- or anyone immunocompromised or with chronic health conditions -- stay away from gatherings of more than 20 people.
Bullock also recommended “that parents should avoid, if possible, placing children for childcare with grandparents or individuals over the age of 60 or [with] immunocompromised persons.”
In addition, Bullock suspended nursing home visits “except for certain compassionate care situations,” during which would-be visitors must first be screened “to determine whether they have traveled in the last two weeks, are residing where community spread is occurring, or if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19,” the news release states.
Learn more about COVID-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.