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GFPS works to help students and parents during coronavirus closure

Posted: 6:17 PM, Mar 18, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-18 20:24:50-04
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GREAT FALLS — With all public K-12 schools in Montana closed due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), many parents are wondering what this means for their kids and how schools will continue.

Parents at Riverview Elementary School went to the school on Wednesday to pick up packets for their kids.

“It can be a little bit of stressful at times," said Stacy Hoehn. She she a kindergartener and a 5th grader at Riverview and she sees the challenges ahead. “Trying to get everybody online at different times with multiple kids and multiple schools, making sure that those folks that we can kind of rotate time and get everyone online to get their assignments accomplished."

She added, "“Definitely all in close quarters we are used to being in separate places during the day and back together in the evening, both my husband and I work, so it will be really challenging to get through the next couple of weeks and keep everybody safe."

Luke Diekhans, the Riverview principal, says that teachers are working hard for their students: “We are so lucky in Great Falls Public Schools, we have teachers who are just at the heart of their own kids and that’s what they are focused on right now." He added, "Honestly it’s been...there are a lot of little frustrations that have come along but they pieces that we have put together are the things that have been positive."

Diekhans continued, “When kids come back to school, they have to be prepared to go back to school. We wan to jump back in and get moving for the rest of the year, if that does happen."

The schools understand that parents are frustrated with the situation. “To all the parents out there, we know the frustration right now to have your kids at home, do your very best to break up your day for when schools do open up we can get them back into school and learning."

But if you are having issues with childcare Great Falls Public Schools is lending a hand - they’re offering childcare for healthcare workers, first responders and other emergency staff. The idea is to help parents who may be required to show up for work.

What: Childcare for elementary school children of Great Falls whose parent is on shift in a critical safety or health job.
Who: HANDS personnel along with regular Great Falls Public Schools employees, paras, teachers and administrators will provide childcare.
Why: We will work together to ensure that our critical medical and safety employees are able to work in Great Falls.
When: HANDS centers are open from 6:45 am to 6:00 pm
Where: Three elementary schools--Lewis and Clark, Meadow Lark, and Loy. Additional schools will be added as parents enroll their children. Schools will be added in this order: Valley View, Lincoln and Sacajawea.

If you are an employee in a critical health or safety job and your child may need childcare, please click this link and fill out the form to make enrollment easier when you do need it. Bring with you: Letter from your employer stating the critical need for you to be at work and your work ID.

Click here to visit the GFPS website for more information about the impact of coronavirus in the district.


There are now 10 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Montana. Here is the publicly-released information about them:

  • Gallatin County (3): man in his 40s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; 2 men in their 20s
  • Missoula County (3): man in his 50s, woman in her 30s; man in his 20s
  • Yellowstone County (2): woman in her 50s; recovering at home; acquired through international travel; woman in her 20s
  • Butte-Silver Bow County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • Broadwater County: man in his 50s; recovering at home; acquired domestically in affected areas out of state
  • NOTE: there is an 11th Montanan diagnosed with COVID-19; she is from Lake County, is a part-time Montana resident currently in Maryland with no documented exposures or close contacts in Montana, and was not tested in Montana. She was tested and diagnosed in Maryland, where she currently is residing.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Great Falls or Cascade County. KRTV is aware of concerns in the community about who should be tested and who is able to get tested, and are working to get answers from public health officials.