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Schools continue to report success with re-opening plans

 

September 8, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Second graders at Lincoln-McKinley Primary School play during recess this morning. Area superintendents said that their re-opening plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have gone well so far.

Harlem Public Schools started last week and among the other schools have opened up with re-opening plans tooled to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Havre, Rocky Boy, Chinook, Chester-Joplin-Inverness and Box Elder schools started two weeks ago.

Harlem and other districts told The Havre Daily News how re-opening has gone so far.

Harlem Superintendent Doreen Warren said the students there have adapted very well to social distancing on the buses, in the classrooms and in the buildings. 

The district went forward with a blended/hybrid plan.

  The students are screened every morning and good hygiene will be taught and practiced.

Breakfast and lunches are provided for all the students whether they are working in the buildings or working remotely.

About 42 percent elementary students opted for remote learning, Warren said, and approximately 32 percent of the junior and senior high school opted for remote as well.

She said the remaining students are on the blended/hybrid plan and attend school two day per week.  

"Unfortunately, we have not yet seen all of our students yet so that will be our focus this week," Warren said.

  All of the junior and senior high school students have been given a Chromebook and are required to attend each and every class on their schedule, all day long, both remote and hybrid students, she said.

She added that the elementary students in fourth through sixth grade will receive Chromebooks and students K-3 will receive iPads, but those items are back ordered.  

She said until the devices arrive, they will receive work packets.

The first packets went out last Friday. 

Havre

Havre Public Schools Interim Superintendent Craig Mueller said the biggest changes will come from the school board meeting held today regarding the return to play guidelines.

Mueller said he and the activities director have been working closely with the Hill County Health Department to allow more fans into games.

Friday, football parents will receive two tickets as well band, color guard and cheerleading, he said.

He added that this item will be presented at the school board meeting, which will also increase the crowd size from about 250 people to about 400. 

"We're excited about that because more opportunities for parents to get see their kids," Mueller said.

He said the district also made a modification to keep track of attendance, asking parents to log-in or check-in their child when they are in their virtual setting between 8 a.m. to noon.

"It's still important they check in, so that way we can use those attendance figures so we know they are engaged and learning," Mueller said.

Rocky Boy 

The school year for Rocky Boy Public Schools started Aug. 26 via a remote/distance learning model for all PreK-12 students attending the schools.

The remote or distance learning option is planned to run through Sept. 30.

Oct. 1, the district plans to switch to a blended/hybrid learning model, where students would be grouped into odd and even grade levels and attend school for two days per week and participate in remote or distance learning for the other three days per week.

Superintendent Voyd St. Pierre said things are advancing slowly, as internet connectivity, device distribution and enrollment are taking more time than usual due to the implementation of safety measures and social distancing. 

"The greatest challenge right now is having sufficient devices for remote learning," he said.  "We are anxiously awaiting 351 new laptops purchased months ago, but availability by our vendor has been impacted by COVID-19."

He added that another major obstacle being experienced is that during the first five days of remote learning is having an adult presence in the home. 

Several parents are working parents and have limited options for another adult to watch their children while they work, he said, which creates log-in difficulties and routines are difficult for younger students.

A total of 88 K-12 students opted out of face-to-face instruction for the school year.  

Educational and meal services are provided to them via distance learning for the entire school year, St. Pierre said.

As of Aug. 28, enrollment showed 329 students in K-6, 69 in grades 7-8and 132 enrolled at grades 9-12.

 

Chinook

Chinook Public Schools Superintendent Darrin Hannum said things are continuing to go well.

"Always have hiccups, but going great," he said.

Box Elder

Box Elder Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy MacDonald said Box Elder will continue with distance learning until at least Sept. 14. 

 He said the schools are working out some tech issues. 

"Overall we are off to a positive start," MacDonald said. 

Turner

Turner Public Schools Superintendent Tony Warren said everything is continuing to go well. 

"Our staff and students have done a very good job of adjusting to new routines and procedures," he said. "Our staff has spent a considerable amount of time teaching, practicing, and reinforcing the new routines and procedures."

Everyone has been flexible, patient and cooperative as they navigate these unique circumstances, he added. 

St. Jude Thaddeus School

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

St. Jude Thaddeus School Principal Mike Haugen said the school's third week back went well. 

"Kids, parents and teachers have been great in being diligent with our guidelines," he said.  "It is exhausting but joyful."

North Star

North Star Public Schools Superintendent Bart Hawkins said North Star hosted its first sporting events of the season Friday and Saturday.

"We are allowing families of our North Star players and parents only for visitors with screening and contact tracking forms being done prior to admission," he said. "Our fans have been great so far."

Students and staff continue to do a great job, Hawkins added. 

 

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