It was only a few weeks ago that Heather Foster, the CEO of the Missoula Family YMCA, was celebrating the fact that not a single case of COVID 19 had been reported throughout the ‘Y’.

That changed on Monday, as one child was found to have tested positive for coronavirus.

“We had felt really, really fortunate and pretty lucky that we hadn't had a case, but at the same time we had been preparing for the ‘not if but when’ scenario and I think we felt pretty prepared to handle it,” said Foster. “It was not a call we wanted to get knowing that we had a positive kiddo in one of our programs, but we had a plan in place and so we were able to act upon it pretty quickly and make some decisions fast.”

We had felt really, really fortunate and pretty lucky that we hadn't had a case, but at the same time we had been preparing for the ‘not if but when’ scenario and I think we felt pretty prepared to handle it.

Foster said the very makeup of the different YMCA childcare programs worked in their favor with this first positive test.

“We're fortunate that the child that was in our program, was in a standalone building,” she said. “It was in our Infant-Toddler center here on the main ‘Y’ campus, but it's a pretty isolated building. There are about 31 kids in that whole facility and in the classroom where the child tested positive there were eight kiddos and we made the decision that while it was a very small classroom with only eight children in total, it probably made the most sense to just err on the side of caution and to close the entire Infant-Toddler center.”

Foster said they worked their plan for the eventuality of a positive test.

“We quickly identified the eight children that were in that classroom; actually the seven other kids in that classroom as close contacts,” she said. “So we called those family members first and let them know your child was definitely in a classroom with a positive child last week. So that's our determination, but the health department will work through their process and their investigating workers for the COVID tracing and see who else they might deem close contact.”

Foster provided a timeline for reopening the Infant-Toddler center.

“I think the guidance would still be 14 days,” she said. “That's why we sort of went ahead and just were pre emptive. What we found through all of this is that parents need to be able to plan, and so we thought it made the most sense to just go ahead and use that full window of 14 days, which is generally what's required. We're looking at reopening the center on November 4th.”

During the closure, it will deep clean, disinfect and sanitize the entire building. The Y’s main facility and off-site childcare programs are not affected and remain open.