COVID-19 UPDATE: September 10th, 2020

September 10, 2020 

Dear Panther Families, 

This afternoon, Governor Bullock’s office released Outbreak Response Protocol Guidance for K-12 schools. This guidance highlights many mitigation strategies that Pioneer already has in place, but with a few updates. These updates are now reflected in our COVID-19 Guidelines (below). The full guidance document can be found at Outbreak Response Protocols: K-12.


In addition, Riverstone Health has released Indicators for In-Person Instruction. These indicators are meant to help the Yellowstone County K-12 schools determine when to transition to a hybrid and/or remote learning environment based on the metrics observed over a 7 day rolling period. These indicators are highlighted below and can be viewed in detail at Indicators for In-Person Instruction.


As you know, the information and guidance we receive regarding COVID-19 changes regularly as our experts continue to learn more about the virus. Pioneer is dedicated to providing our campus community with the most updated and relevant information to ensure clear and consistent communication to keep our staff and students safe. 

Over the course of the last several weeks, the district has been working tirelessly with Riverstone Health to ensure proper protocols and guidelines are in place and followed. Prior to school starting, we had indicated that contact tracing for positive COVID-19 cases in the school would be completed by a member of Riverstone Health. After many discussions with Riverstone Health and neighboring districts, and due to Montana privacy laws, it has been deemed necessary to shift this practice. In an effort to identify and contain potential positive COVID-19 cases quickly, Pioneer School will be working closely with Riverstone Health to initiate contact tracing within our school by a trained school official. 

In addition to our many conversations with Riverstone Health, we have been continually re-evaluating our list of mitigation strategies as information changes. Currently, we are examining the validity of temperature screening upon entry of the buildings or bus as a ⅓ of all positive COVID-19 cases exhibit no fever. Temperature screening would still take place in symptomatic students/staff, but using it as a prerequisite to enter into our buildings/bus could prove somewhat ineffective. These new protocols will be discussed at the next regular meeting of the Board on Monday, September 14, 2020.

As always, we appreciate your support as we navigate these unprecedented challenges. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. 

Be well, Panthers!


Melissa Schnitzmeier

Principal/Superintendent, Pioneer Elementary