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Havre school board hears potential re-opening scenarios

 

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Parents, school district employees and other members of the public sit six feet from each other while wearing masks Tuesday during a special Havre school board meeting in the Robins School Administration Building.

The Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees discussed during a special board meeting Tuesday the school district's re-opening plans for the upcoming school year.

Three plans were presented.

All three of Havre's plans are in accordance with Gov. Steve Bullock's state requirements and concurred with the Hill County Health Department, Interim Superintendent Craig Mueller said.

He said Phase One will be used in the event they receive direction that the school buildings must be closed.

Phase Two will be used as they limit the number of students in the building at any one time, while the same time providing daily face-to-face instruction, he said.

Phase Three allows for the returns of the traditional schedule at each of the school buildings, he said.

"If we went back to school today, it would be my recommendation to start in Phase Two," Mueller said. 

The draft plan says Phase Two guidelines are:

• "Community members should not convene in groups of more than 50 non-household contacts without proper social distancing.

• "Both indoor and outdoor activities should allow for proper social distancing, providing at least 6 feet of separation between non-household contacts.

• "Frequently touched or shared surfaces should be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

• "Hand washing or hand sanitizer must be available. Where restrooms are provided, hand sinks with soap, water and paper towels must be provided.

• "Where food is served, products must be packaged or otherwise in a grab and go form. No shared serving utensils or buffets should be allowed.

• "Gyms, indoor group fitness classes, pool and hot tubs can operate at 75 percent capacity and only if they can adhere to strict physical distancing and they exercise frequent sanitation protocols."

Mueller said the grab-and-go meals would be served at both breakfast and lunch.

Grab-and-go meals will also be available at Lincoln-McKinley Primary School and Highland Park Early Primary School for students who opt out of in-school instruction.

If parents decide they don't feel comfortable sending their students back to school in either a Phase Two or a Phase Three model, he said, that could change class numbers and give greater flexibility to scheduling.

The opt-out form is due back Friday, Aug. 14, he said. 

He said students who opt out could be assigned to a remote learning teacher.

He said if the students are split alphabetically, busing routes would occur twice.

"We're going to try to keep, as best as we can, all the rural routes together in one group, so that we don't run those long routes twice," he said. "... Plans are already in place to start moving toward dividing the students in two groups, but the idea would be pick up, drop off, to potentially eliminate transfer sites. We don't have long lines of children waiting to get on bus where it could be hard to maintain that social distancing guidelines."

Group A would attend school from 8:15 to 11a.m., and Group B would attend school from 1 to 3:45 p.m., the plan says.

The two-hour block between Group A and Group B is set aside as preparation time for teachers, Mueller said, they have.

He added that the district has electro-static sprayers for custodians at all buildings to spray the classrooms, lunch for the teachers and the ability to clean their workspace before the next group of students come in.

The plan also says Group A will receive breakfast upon arrival and will take lunch if requested when leaving the school building, adding that Group B will receive lunch upon arrival. Group B will take breakfast if requested when leaving the school building.

While maintaining social distance on a bus, students of the same household could share a seat together are to allow for additional riders, he said.

"We are going to have to maintain social distancing on the buses as well, which could be a challenge," Mueller said. 

He said the board also needs to discuss what to do when and if the state could move from one phase to the other.

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Aileen Couch opens the meeting Tuesday during a special school board meeting in the Robins Administration Building.

"I, by and large, want to believe that all teachers want to have contact with students every day and how we do that in a blended format is difficult, but I think we can work through it because we've done a great deal of planning, we have a lot of the pieces in place to be able to do that with administrative guidance not only at the school building, but working with special education and Mrs. (Karla) Geda, and working with our administrators and planning how that's going to impact curriculum review and other aspects of the general school business," he said. 

He said he feels a blended model approach is the best form of action given where they are at.

The decision on phases, he said, comes down to not only the governor's declaration, but the concurrent condition of the community as to what the opening phase will be.

The first day of school is still set for Wednesday, Aug. 26.

A draft plan is available for parents, community and the public on the Havre Public School's website at http://blueponyk12.com .

The Board of Trustees will vote on a plan at its next regular meeting, Aug 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Havre Middle Schools.

 

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