Health officials with Missoula County Public Schools say they're seeing an uptick in illness, including COVID-19 this week, and they're reminding parents of testing and other practices to counter the problems.

In a letter to parents Thursday, MCPS Health Services Coordinator Brooke Krininger said the district remains "committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff" and passed along advice for testing and other steps.

She said the district is still offering free on-site COVID-19 rapid antigen testing at the MCPS Nursing/IT Building on South Avenue adjacent to Sentinel High School. Those tests are available Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm when school is in session, by appointment, as staffing permits. 

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COVID tests still available

Parents can call 406-240-4271 to schedule a test. Testing consent forms can be found on the MCPS COVID-19 information page. 

Krininger says other no-cost COVID-19 testing services are also available with a search from the CDC website. Tests can also be purchased for at-home testing at various retailers, including Missoula-area pharmacies, and usually anywhere from $8 to $35. Tests can also be ordered by mail. And you can obtain up to 8 free at-home tests per month with either private insurance or medicare. Medicaid also allows up to 2 free at-home tests per transaction and local pharmacies can provide more information.

What if a test is positive?

The guidance remains the same as it has been for the past year. MCPS says those who test positive for COVID-19 should stay at home for at least 5 days, and self-isolate at home. The CDC continues to recommend masks be worn for 10 days after the first symptoms. 

Krininger says people can still opt to use a mask at any time, with the CDC recommending masks for people with at-risk health conditions or in communities where COVID-19 has a high transmission rate. 

Montana cases are still lower than last year

The CDC COVID Data Tracker continues to show Missoula County with a "low" level of confirmed cases, at 38 per 100,000 residents. Statewide, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services reported 716 active cases last week. Last year, DPHHS reported more than 1,000 daily cases on January 31st, during the spike in last winter's spread of the virus. 

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