Yes, there continue to be some positive COVID-19 tests in the Hamilton School District, requiring some students, teachers and staff to self-quarantine. But since the start of the school year, Hamilton High School has only been closed for two days because of the virus, according to HSD3 Superintendent Tom Korst. In an interview last week, Korst said main reason for that closure early in the 2020-21 school year was figuring out a system for contact tracing following a positive test report. Since then, the tracing of possibly infected people has been accomplished rapidly. He said, "We have a pretty coordinated effort. I think that most of the time, we're done within a half-hour to an hour. I just can't thank my staff enough."

Add to that are the current mask and distancing policies, a combination of online learning, the smaller in-person class sizes in the elementary and high schools and the cleaning protocols throughout the buildings. Korst said keeping the school open was a concerted effort with "all of our staff working together and it takes a lot of work. I just can't thank my staff enough."

Looking ahead, Korst said, "This pandemic has caused us to do some things differently. We've learned some things - some of what we've learned we'll carry forward. We've become a little more flexible in nature in some areas and we're going to look at how can we continue to tailor education for kids. Not just 'here's the system, I hope it works for you,' but how do we now approach each individual kid and what IS actually good for you? I think we're going to be better for it in the end."

All the public schools, including Hamilton, have a continuing need for substitute teachers. Korst said Hamilton could easily add another 20 substitutes to help out and there are financial bonuses available, too. Contact the Hamilton School District Administration Center at (406) 363-2280 for more information.

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