All Montana Catholic schools, including Billings Central High School, will remain closed with online instruction until at least May 4, three weeks later than public schools, church leaders said Tuesday.
The plan will provide a roadmap for the next 41 days, the Revs. Michael W. Warfel of the Great Falls-Billings diocese and Austin A. Vetter of Helena wrote in a letter to teachers, parents, students and staff.
The bishops said they are concerned about the spread of coronavirus and the impact the disease it causes, COVID-19.
"We are also confident in the quality of instruction that our schools are providing but mindful that these times of uncertainty bring a sense of anxiety," they wrote.
On Tuesday afternoon, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced he was extending the closure of all Montana public schools to April 10, but he hinted it could be longer if the virus continues to spread.
Montana had 51 reported cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon. Cases have been on the rise over the past few weeks as testing has increased.
The full letter is below:
Dear Montana Catholic Schools teachers, staff, parents, students, and principals,
Thank you for your hard work to make our Catholic schools continued beacons of hope during these troubling times. A special thank you to our dedicated teachers and principals for creating such robust and faith-filled communities of remote learning on such short notice.
We are concerned about the spread of the Coronavirus and the impact that COVID-19 could have on our great state and our school communities. We are also confident in the quality of instruction that our schools are providing but mindful that these times of uncertainty bring a sense of anxiety. To that end, we are now asking all of our Montana Catholic schools to remain closed with ongoing remote learning instruction until at least May 4th. This will provide our school communities a road map for the next 41 days.
We wish you blessings during this difficult time and will keep you in prayer.