Belgrade schools are gearing up to resume regular operations in the fall, following a school year abruptly interrupted with a shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal is to start school as normal in the fall,” Superintendent Godfrey Saunders told school board trustees at their meeting on Monday.
If that isn’t possible, Saunders said the plan is to operate on some kind of blended schedule, which would allow students to attend in-person classes every other day in order to enable distancing guidelines. He said decisions will be made in time for the board and parents in the district to review the plan before the 2020-21 school year begins.
Saunders is one of a number of superintendents from around the state serving on the Flex 2020 Task Force, which is charged by the state Office of Public Instruction with drafting school reopening guidelines. The Task Force met yesterday, June 10, charged with submitting its recommendations to OPI after it was over. The results were not available at press time.
Saunders told the board the district is beginning to plan for a fall reopening with numerous considerations in mind. Among them are arranging for siblings under a blended schedule to attend school on the same days – even if they are at different schools – in order to help families schedule day care.
He said the state task force has been discussing numerous issues, including funding, 2021 summer tutoring programs, and potential online learning partnerships with Montana Digital Academy.
More information about the work of the task force is available at http://opi.mt.gov/Families-Students/School-Topics/Re-Opening-Schools-Task-Forces.
In other business Monday, the board did the following:
• Heard an update on school construction projects.
• Continued discussion on facilities use by school and public members.
• Heard a proposal to slightly alter the upcoming school calendar.
• Approved a list of overflow school property for sale.
• Heard proposal for account administrator and fund custodian change.
• Heard the updated middle school handbook and activities handbook.
• Heard the updated high school handbook and activities handbook.
• Approved contract for new high school Principal Shanna Smith.
• Approved administration contracts.