At a press conference in Helena on Thursday, Governor Steve Bullock introduced additional guidance for schools and health departments around the state on how to notify the public about new cases or outbreaks of COVID 19.

“Today we're releasing the guidance that they've been working on diligently for the past couple of weeks,” said Governor Bullock. “The guidance was based on work done by the state of Rhode Island and it's been shared with public health agencies across our state schools and education professionals.”

Bullock outlined the steps that must be taken when an individual in a school setting tests positive for COVID 19.

“For example, if a student or staff member has COVID-19 related symptoms, the protocol includes sending that individual home to isolate, recommending testing and a requirement to get a test or recover before returning to school. Close contacts should quarantine for at least 14 days should be tested and self monitor for symptoms with a negative test not changing the quarantine time.”

“It is important that the public knows when a student or staff member test positive in school and 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.

Bullock added further COVID 19 protocols for sports or other extra-curricular activities.

“Additionally, there are recommendations for athletic and extracurricular activities,” he said. “This includes many measures that schools are already taking, including increasing sanitation practices, wearing face coverings when appropriate, and minimizing travel to other communities. Athletes who test positive should be cleared by a health care provider before resuming participation.”

Tackling the ticklish subject of when and how to notify the public when a positive case turns up in a school setting, he said schools and local health departments must work as a team to notify the public.

“Schools and local public health will work together if there's a positive case and focus on how schools should receive notification when a student tests positive,” he said. “It is important that the public knows when a student or staff member test positive in school and 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.”

Recently in Missoula, a student at Sentinel High School tested positive for COVID 19. The incident became public when school officials notified Sentinel parents about the positive test and that letter was released to the media.

Read On