Schools work on teaching during school closures
Classes switching to online, take-home work
March 24, 2020
Editor's note: With school closures, the Havre Daily News was not able to contact all school districts in the area.
"Our number one priority is getting in touch with our families and our students," Havre Superintendent Andy Carlson said Sunday. "We've done pretty well with that, but we still have some families we haven't been able to check in with, so what I'm going to do is direct people to our website."
Gov. Steve Bullock ordered March 15 all public K-12 schools in the state to close their classrooms, something some schools including Box Elder, Rocky Boy, Hays-Lodge Pole and Havre already had announced.
Havre's parochial Catholic school, St. Jude Thaddeus School, also closed its classrooms March 16.
Bullock ordered the schools closed until Friday, March 27, which could be extended.
The Havre school district is working on a plan, which Gov. Steve Bullock directed each school district to write detailing what it is going to do when school comes back and do during this time, Carlson said, which addresses four things: quality, meals, students with disabilities and services that the school district would customarily provide.
He said this plan will have to be approved by the Havre School Board of Trustees, which is holding a special meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Havre Middle School.
"What we are going to do, we're talking remote learning," he said, "we are going to do as much as we can online, but we also know there is a reality that we know everyone is not going to have access to online. ... We want to continue to provide instruction, but at the same time with compassion and understanding everybody is going through a lot."
He said right now, there are some activities and lessons happening and the emphasis has been on reaching out and determining remote learning access.
He added that the teachers are working on a plan that will be communicated to their students in means of credits, grades and ideas.
"This is hard. This is not the way they want your second semester to go, I know that, but they are going to come up with a plan and they are going to do the right thing," Carlson said.
He said the remote learning will begin before Monday, March 30.
"Probably the most important thing is make sure you are in touch with your teacher," he said.
Starting Monday, from 1 to 3 p.m. he said, the school district is going to be giving out materials to the high school students, such as band instruments, art supplies and Chromebooks in a curbside, drive-up manner.
"It is not going to be for just one day, we hope to do this for more than one day," Carlson said. "We'd like to have it look a lot like our Grab and Go meals at Lincoln-McKinley and Highland Park, but we really need the cooperation of our students and our families."
He said if the district is unable to get the students something today then the service will continue today, Wednesday and till every student has what they need.
Carlson wants to emphasize social distancing, students standing six feet apart and not creating lines, if this does occur the materials passed out at curbside will have to stop, he said
He added that the Grab and Go meal service will continue until he releases a statement that it has stopped.
"Those meals are huge. They served over 400 meals on Friday," Carlson said. "We don't want those meals to stop."
No one except staff is allowed in the schools' facilities till further notice, he said.
Right now till Monday, April 13, all K-12 events and activities have been canceled, regardless if school resumes earlier, Carlson said.
"Funding is obviously a tremendous issue," he said. "We are funded for two weeks, I know that. I know that our remote learning plan is a big part of how we're going to be funded going forward."
For graduation, he said, it's too early to be talking about it, but it will happen.
He added that for advanced placement, he is asking for people to give the teachers some time to figure out a plan not only about credits, but grades and so on.
"Every cancelation, every postponement it hurts a little more," Carlson said. "It stings. We are going to try to do everything we can, but there's a lot that's out of our control right now."
For any updates or information on the Havre School District, and also community information, people can visit https://www.blueponyk12.com .
At St. Jude Thaddeus School, Principal Mike Haugen said the school has their sixth through eighth grade students studying online using Google Classroom and video conferencing with their teachers.
He said for K-4 the teachers are doing a variety of interactions with their students, such as phone calls with students and parents, sending out packets, which scheduled for pick up by grade level, for students to pick up as they drop off completed work.
Teachers are also Facetiming students to see how they are doing, he said.
Preschool students have also been doing packets and teachers have been working on putting together Youtube videos of reading and teaching lessons for their students.
He said the school is also working out with families how they can get the students online if that is a problem, and sent a survey to find out who has access to what.
He said the junior high students have been using Chromebooks and Google Classroom for some time, but teachers also are exploring how to do the remote teaching more effectively,
"We're kind of fast forwarding how to teach online," Haugen said.
Chester-Joplin-Inverness school district began online classes Monday.
CJI Public Schools Superintendent Tim Bronk said the school district has been providing their seventh through 12th grade students Chromebooks for a couple of years already, and kindergarten through sixth grade students have class sets of devices that can be checked out by the parents.
"Primarily, we will be using the Google Classroom platform and enhancing the teaching/learning experience with additional apps," he said.
The schools' kitchen staff is preparing breakfasts and lunches daily which is available, free, to any person born-to-18 years of age, he said.
He added that families just need to visit the school's website to place their Grab and Go order and are also continuing to provide weekend Backpack meals for any family requesting them.
For Turner Public Schools, Superintendent Tony Warren said if the shutdown is extended past Monday, March 30, the district will be moving exclusively to remote and digital learning.
Many classes will be working with Google Classroom and Web Ex, he said, adding that the district is purchasing additional technology to ensure that they have additional resources for their students who are learning on a digital platform.
"School is not closing even though we may not be conducting in-person learning on campus. We are committed to working diligently so that our students will receive a quality educational experience remotely," he said. "At this time, we do not know how long remote/digital learning will be in effect, but we are prepared to do so for weeks or months as necessary."
He said all athletics or co-curricular activities and events are on hold till further notice.
"The remote and digital learning experience is due to their leadership and willingness to provide the most positive experience possible in the face of such widespread and potentially long-term phase of digital learning," Warren said. "We are in this together, and we move forward from a place of both reality and hope that we will resume our traditional Turner Public Schools experience as soon as it is smart to do so."
Harlem Public Schools began a delivery service of 6,000 meals per week, superintendent Doreen Warren said.
"Our bus drivers and aides go along established bus routes mid-morning to hand out two meals daily for each student," she said. "We added three additional stops in Harlem to serve our students who live in town. We send our meal deliveries all the way out to the People's Creek landing and our distant East Valley stops in order to serve all of our students."
She added that the schools will start distance learning this week and that the first order of business will be when the teachers survey each of their students on what their distance learning preference is either online or paper and pencil.
Once all of their teachers have surveyed all of their students, distance learning will begin, she said
"We are also using this time to deep clean and sanitize our buildings so that we will be ready whenever school resumes," Warren said.
At Box Elder Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy MacDonald said the district has already begun online learning.
"What we have already begun is lessons and activities through a variety of mediums," he said, "most of our high school staff uses Google Classroom and then our elementary teachers use a couple resources; one is called Seesaw and the other one is Classkick."
He also said the district has been delivering meals to its students who face transportation troubles as well.
Last week, the district delivered 5,222 to the Box Elder community, he said.
"Our staff has stepped up tremendously and made some amazing things happen in a week's time," MacDonald said. "We've adjusted education on the fly as quickly and as to the best of our abilities. We are working things out like everybody else, but we got the technology to be able to do some good things as far as teaching and learning, and we are going to try to keep our kids engaged and challenge as much as possible throughout this school closure."
Rocky Boy Elementary School Principal Clintanna Colliflower notified students and parents of the school that pre-kindergarten through second grade students at the school received learning packets Monday.
The school will have device distribution for students who need devices for online learning for grades third through sixth Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Devices will be passed out to parents only.
"Our teachers will have Microsoft Teams pages created for their classes; students will need to know their email and passwords," Colliflower said in the notice. "We know grade three students do not know their user login or passwords, so parents please come to the school or contact your child's teacher to get this information."
For more information and to view tutorial videos for students and and parents on how to use the Microsoft programs, can visit the school's website at http://www.rockyboy.k12.mt.us .