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Gov. Steve Bullock released COVID-19 guidelines for public schools this week as the Bozeman School District completes its first week of in-person classes.

The district has already implemented many of the procedures outlined by the governor’s office, and Gallatin County health officials said they would begin releasing data on cases connected to the schools.

In a news release on Thursday, Bullock said school nurses and administrators throughout the state requested the guidelines.

“By following these protocols in consultation with local public health, our schools can properly quarantine, recommend testing and take other measures to minimize the spread and keep kids healthy while preserving in-person learning for the students and families who depend on it,” Bullock said in the release.

The guidelines released by Bullock include when to quarantine, isolate and recommend testing; when to allow students and staff to return to school; how to determine close contacts; and how to share information with public health officials.

“The majority of the document is what we’ve been talking about for the last two months,” said Bob Connors, superintendent with the Bozeman School District. “There’s not a whole lot of changes.”

Connors said a lot of information related to the number of cases in the school district will be disseminated by the local health department.

“We’re keeping those open lines of communication and ensuring everyone knows what’s going on,” he said.

Matt Kelley, health officer with the Gallatin City-County Health Department, said he’s consulted with district superintendents and principals as students have returned to in-person classes.

“Our plan is to communicate that really aggressively with the schools and the parents in the schools,” Kelley said of possible cases connected to Gallatin County students.

Kelley said as the county starts to see cases related to the school districts, it would begin reporting them in its weekly coronavirus surveillance reports.

“To date, we’re not seeing cases in K-12 schools, thankfully,” Kelley said. “That’ll change when the fall goes on. Schools will be impacted, and we’re working really hard to be ready for this.”

Kelley did say it might be harder to publicly disclose details of cases in smaller, rural schools with fewer than 100 students due to privacy concerns but information would still be communicated directly with those schools.

The Bozeman School District had already implemented many of the guidelines recommended by the governor’s office, including athletic and extracurricular related health protocols.

In previous board meetings, the district administrators and trustees outlined hand sanitizing, wearing face masks on game sidelines, increasing physical distancing between teams when possible, keeping practices small, minimizing travel and sanitizing equipment and high-touch surfaces.

“We’ve talked with superintendents and principals and we think its going to be really important to give people an idea of what’s going on,” Kelley said of keeping schools and the public informed on cases. “It’s going to be a big lift, especially if we have many schools with cases. We’re going to give it our best shot.”

Connors said he is hopeful the district will eventually be able to move students into classes five days per week, but for now it is “trying to make everyone comfortable with the normal we have.”

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Liz Weber can be reached at or 582-2633.