GFPS cancels, postpones all after school activities through March 27 due to COVID-19

Great Falls Public Schools has canceling or postponing all after school or weekend large gatherings or district sponsored events until at least March 27 due to COVID-19.

In an email to district staff, Superintendent Tom Moore wrote that he met with district staff Thursday to discuss questions around the COVID-19 outbreak and the district is taking direction from health officials, particularly Trisha Gardner, the public health officer for the Cascade City-County Health Department.

All out-of-state travel and non-essential in-state travel is suspended indefinitely for GFPS staff and student groups.
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CCHD is authorized Moore to close schools and/or cancel events, according to the email.

“We can and will make prudent decisions to cancel activities, even if we are not directed to do so by the health officials,” Moore wrote.
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As for the canceled or postponed events, “monitoring of the situation across the state and locally will dictate the status of scheduled events after that date. This includes, but is not limited to; concerts, drama productions, all athletic competitions, art shows, conferences and conventions, proms and school dances,” according to Moore’s email.

Driver’s ed is still on as scheduled, according to GFPS.
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In the email, Moore wrote that many questions are being asked about school closures and GFPS is following the advice and directives of state health officials, the governor’s office and the Montanan Office of Public Instruction.
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During the March 9 school board meeting, district officials dated the board on their efforts to plan for distance learning options, including low-tech options, should school closures become necessary so that instruction can continue.

No cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state. A Montana woman who was in Maryland has tested positive, but she remains in Maryland.

On Thursday, Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19 in order to direct a coordinated response to an outbreak ad mobilize all available state resources to plan for a reponse.

“Now is the time to plan, not to panic. Our state has been preparing for coronavirus to come to Montana and we will be prepared to respond all along the way,” Bullock said in a release. “Just like we do when any challenging situation hits our communities, we stick together to make sure that we mitigate the impact, that we have an appropriate response, and that we slow the spread.”

Earlier this month, Bullock activated the Governor’s Task Force, a multi-agency executive task force, to prepare the state and ensure the state, local public health, and the federal government are working together to keep Montanans informed with accurate and up-to-date information. The group is headed by Adjutant General Matthew Quinn, who oversees the Disaster and Emergency Services division which is well versed in multi-agency coordination and all-hazard response planning.

The Task Force has launched an informational phone line at 1-888-333-0461 and Montanans can also email questions to covid19info@mt.gov. State public health officials will be responding to inquiries from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

A website has also been set up to keep the public apprised of Task Force actions at COVID19.mt.gov. Montanans can also visit the DPHHS website for the most updated and timely health information related to the coronavirus.