GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Public Schools have been closed since Tuesday, January 11, with all classes being conducted remotely. The decision was made due to a shortage of staff due to illness, and an increase in the number of COVID-infected students.
GFPS said on Monday, January 10: "GFPS has more than 125 staff out due to COVID-related illness. The GFPS substitute fill rate was below 46%, which meant that there were roughly 54 classrooms without substitutes across the district."
When the decision to go remote was made on Monday, GFPS said that in-person classes would resume on Tuesday, January 18 - but that may change.
GFPS said in a news release on Friday, January 14, that administrators have been monitoring the spread of COVID throughout the week. On Friday morning, they reviewed data regarding the current number of COVID-infected students and staff, which is more than 250 infections.
GFPS says that is the highest number of infections they have experienced since COVID hit the community in the winter of 2020:
As a School District, we are once again faced with making decisions based on the best available data we have at the time. The District Leadership appreciates the adaptability and flexibility of our staff, students, parents and community partners. Currently, we are analyzing the infection and isolation rates of our staff to determine whether we will have adequate staffing to reopen schools safely on Tuesday, January 18th. Due to the ever-changing dynamics of this current COVID-19 Variant, it is apparent that we need to wait until Sunday afternoon, when we will look at the updated employee data to make an informed decision about school reopening.
GFPS will host a Facebook Live on Sunday, January 16, at 5 p.m. to update the community on the status of school closures for the upcoming week, and will release more details shortly after.
Check the GFPS website and the GFPS Facebook page for updates and information on rapid test clinics and vaccine clinics. Students, with parent consent, and staff can access rapid tests at most schools and at the community drive-through testing center at the Montana ExpoPark fairgrounds.