Potomac resilient through COVID-19 pandemic 

POTOMAC - The Potomac community continues to adjust to COVID-19. The school, businesses and other organizations keep moving forward amidst challenges and continual change.

The Potomac School has been closed since the Governor closed schools statewide March 23. Although students can no longer meet in their classrooms, the Pioneers are all studying and doing homework from home.

Principal John Rouse said the school appreciates the effort parents and family members of students are making to keep a routine going at home to create some sense of normalcy in these abnormal times.

He said the virus outbreak has created an unexpected set of challenges for the teachers and other staff.

"It has also provided us with an opportunity to shine as caring, dedicated and creative professionals who are focused on providing the best possible learning experiences for our students, no matter what," said Rouse.

Potomac School has staff at the school at 6:30 a.m. each day preparing breakfast and lunch meals for all Potomac community children. Another team of staff spends their day cleaning and disinfecting the facilities, so the buildings will be ready for when the students return.

The teachers have developed lessons each week that are available virtually to the students or through packets. Rouse said for those students whose families do not have good access to the Internet or email, teachers are having telephone conversations with their students and sending home school work and materials via our school buses that are delivering meals each day.

He said the teachers and staff members miss seeing the students face to face. 

"While we are trying to keep that personal contact that is so much a part of what it means to be part of the Potomac School family, nothing can replace the direct interactions with our students," said Rouse. "We look forward to the day when we can once again enjoy that connection." 

Kanavel Ag Supply remains open in Potomac from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their changes include more online advertising and website use for their customers. They have seen regular interest this spring from their ranching customers.

Other affected businesses include Cully's. The store is open from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily. The restaurant is open for to-go orders and packaged liquor from 12-8 p.m. Cully's employees said that they appreciate everybody.

The Potomac Valley 4-H Club has not been able to meet but members are working on their projects at home and are in touch with their leaders. Missoula County Extension agent Campbell Barrett said, "In general, like everyone else in the world, Missoula County 4-H is looking forward to getting back to some kind of normal. Kids are very social and they learn best in a hands-on environment."

Not everyone is equally set up at home for hands-on learning opportunities, so getting project meetings back on track will be very helpful. The current directives from the State 4-H Office are no face-to-face 4-H interactions through April 24 and no large group meetings through May 10th. The online 4-H resources on how to stay connected can be found at http://www.montana4h.org/resources/remote_connection/index.html

Looking forward, Missoula County 4H is currently still planning for an in-person on-site Western Montana Fair Aug. 5-9 with the Livestock Sale Aug. 8.

Campbell added, "We are also looking forward to the re-opening of the many small businesses in the community that have supported Missoula 4H for so long."

The Potomac community is pitching in and helping out where they can.

Potomac's Steel Toe Distillery is making hand sanitizer. Some Potomac residents are making masks and providing them to those that don't have them in the community and elsewhere.

Organizations like the quilt guild, community blood draws and exercise groups have quit meeting together for now but are working on projects at home.

Some things continue with little change in the midst of COVID-19.

Potomac Food Bank operations have continued with a 'grab and go' method. 

The Potomac Warriors are finding ways to continue their activities. They still meet and train in preparation for the Missoula Marathon. Even though they walk 'socially distanced' from each other, they still walk together.

Sportsman and outdoor recreationists are taking note of the changing weather, thawing trails and waterways to be fished even though campground closures are in effect and social distancing is recommended at trailheads. Resident hunters are preparing for spring turkey and bear season.

Ranches have new calves and foals on the ground. Fences are being mended and haying equipment is being maintained. Harrowing, seeding and spring planting is in the works while Potomac keeps looking onward.


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