Frequently Asked Questions

  • The United States has experienced multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the most current numbers are being tracked by the CDC. Following in Q&A format are questions that we are fielding from parents with links to additional information:

    1. How long will schools remain closed?

      • Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed from Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 24, 2020. This closure may be extended, based on guidance from the State Health Department and/or the Governor’s office.
      • Effective immediately, all sports practices and driver’s education programs are suspended along with all Life Long Learning Center programs and classes. This includes any activities or practices that were planned over Spring Break. All of these activities as well as other school related activities will be suspended, at least through Friday, April 24,2020.
    2. What resources are available for our staff and families?
    3. What is MCPS doing to respond to COVID-19 in Missoula?
      • Our MCPS COVID-19 response team which includes our Superintendent, Operations Department, Teaching and Learning Department, Human Resources Department, IT Department and Nursing Supervisor has a district plan and we are meeting frequently to adjust to up-to-the-minute issues. 
    4. Must public health officials notify schools if a student/parent is diagnosed with COVID-19?
      • Yes. In situations where an illness is considered an outbreak or pandemic, the MCCHD, Montana DPHHS and the CDC are responsible for monitoring and notifying personnel in areas that the individual has frequented so as to alert the public. In the event a student or community member is diagnosed with COVID-19, the school district may decide to notify staff, families and school communities, if warranted.  This decision to notify will be made in consultation with the MCCHD, with the understanding that we will always strive to protect the confidentiality rights of our students and families in any notification.
    5. Is it recommended that medically fragile students stay home from school?
      • Ask your child’s health care provider now what your school attendance plan should be if there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missoula, in any staff or students attending your child’s school.
    6. Are there additional precautions that medically fragile students should take to prevent getting COVID-19?
      • The ways to prevent COVID-19 are the same for all populations:
        • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
        • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with regular household disinfectants.
        • Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds-- especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
        • If soap and water are not available for handwashing, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
        • Ask your child’s health care provider now what your school attendance plan should be if there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Missoula, in any staff or students attending your child’s school.
    7. Are you thinking about travel out of the state and out of the country for staff and students?
      • Yes, we are reviewing trips on a case by case and decisions are evolving day to day as the virus spreads to new areas.
      • These are the decision making factors we will review for each trip:
        • Location of travel and the associated health risk to students and staff
        • Size of the event staff and students will be participating in
        • Possibility of rescheduling the trip and potential refunds if we cancel
        • Type of travel - air, bus, individual vehicles
      • Each staff member and family may also make their own personal decisions with regard to participating in any trip.
      • Amended:  Beginning March 23rd travel has been suspended for March and April.  We will reassess these decisions for May and June.
    8. Can I send my student to school with homemade hand sanitizer?
      • The Missoula City County Health Department advises against using homemade hand sanitizer for disinfection.  See their FAQ for more information.  It is best to wash hands with soap and water while at school.  However, the schools also have commercially made hand sanitizer for students to use while under staff supervision.  If your homemade hand sanitizer contains Everclear, Vodka, or any other liquor, it is banned from our schools. All of our campuses are tobacco, alcohol, and weapons free zones.
    9. The new guidance from the CDC for schools mentions what to do if there is a suspect case or a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school.  Is MCPS following this guidance?
      • A suspect case is someone who is ill with a respiratory illness where flu has been ruled out, and other respiratory diseases have been ruled out, and the Health Department is waiting for a COVID-19 test result.
      • If MCPS has a suspect case or confirmed case of COVID-19, we will follow all CDC, Montana DPHHS, and Missoula City County Health Department recommendations for action.
      • When there is a confirmed case at any school, staff or student, we may establish short-term closure procedures, based on advice from our local health department.  Under this protocol:  the school where there is a confirmed case would be closed for a period of 2-5 days.  The purpose of this closure would be to not only clean the school, but also provide time for the MCHHD to identify close contacts and establish protocols around school exclusion for some students or staff.  This is similar to exclusion protocols that we have experienced with Pertussis.
    10. What happens if the Governor extends his directives and keeps schools closed?
      • If the Governor extends his directive and keeps schools closed, we will continue to deliver options for students to stay engaged in learning online and avoid a slide in skills and content knowledge.  We will also continue to provide breakfast and lunch to youth and families in our community.