HELENA- New guidance was released for schools based on work done by the State of Rhode Island.
Governor Steve Bullock said he asked a group of public health experts to develop outbreak response protocols for schools to use as high-level guidance in consultation with local public health agencies.
The guidance was released Thursday and has been shared with public health agencies, schools and education professions across Montana according to Bullock.
“The document does not replace direct engagement with local public health but rather provides an overview of what will occur throughout that engagement process,” Bullock said, adding that the material may change.
Guidance includes a list of COVID-19 symptoms and provides resources to help schools determine if a sick student or staff member is symptomatic but unlikely to have COVID-19, or if they have matching symptoms and should seek testing.
It also includes isolation and quarantine protocols, testing protocols and guidance on when an individual should return to school based on whether they are symptomatic but unlikely to have COVID-19, whether they are suspected, confirmed or a close contact of a known case.
“We know that there will continue to be challenges, including suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our K-12 schools,” Bullock said.
An example given by the governor is if a student or staff member has COVID-19 related symptoms, the protocol includes sending the individual home to isolate, recommending testing and a requirement to get a test or recover before coming back to school.
There are also recommendations for athletic and extracurricular activities, including measures schools are already taking the governor said.
Guidance for disclosure of information for a person who tests positive for COVID-19 is included as well.
“It is important that the public knows when a student or staff member tests 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 said.
You can read the outbreak response protocols document here.