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Yellowstone County public health officer John Felton announced yesterday (Monday 11/9) that he is extending the Health Officer Order through December 9, with the potential for additional restrictions coming any day.

RiverStone Health also released several indicators that school officials, and county public health officials will be using, to determine when schools should suspend in-person instruction. According to the chart, three of four metrics would need to reach the "RED" category before the recommendation would be made to close schools.

Here are the four metrics that will be used for determining the suspension of in-person instruction at Yellowstone County schools (courtesy of RiverStone Health's COVID-19 dashboard):

  • Weekly case mix and clusters: Increases in new cases in children under 19 & clusters within schools.
  • Capacity of healthcare and public health systems: Includes staffing, timeliness of contact tracing, supplies, testing capacity, hospital beds, active cases in service area, etc.
  • Weekly average daily case count per 100,000.
  • Weekly positivity rate: Number of weekly positive tests divided by the number of tests conducted that week.

For all four of these metrics to reach the RED color band, here's what would need to happen, according to RiverStone Health:

  • Significant increases of cases involving children under age 19 & widespread clusters within schools.
  • Stressed operations, critical concerns for public health care system.
  • Greater than 25 new cases per 100,000 for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • Weekly positivity rate is greater than 10 percent for 2 consecutive weeks.

If at least 3 out of 4 metrics reach the RED color band, public health officials would recommend Yellowstone County schools suspend in-person instruction, activate remote learning protocols, while continuing "essential student support including meals & student engagement."

RiverStone Health cited several sources that were used in the development of the metrics that included the CDC, Harvard, and the states of Wyoming, West Virginia, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona.

To see all the indicators for in-person instruction at Yellowstone County schools, CLICK HERE.