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Montana City School is encouraging parents to transport their own children to school this fall due to the pandemic. 

Montana City School released its reopening plan for this fall, which includes a five-day a week schedule and a request for parents to transport their students when possible as the pandemic continues to be a threat, according to the draft plan released Monday.

School begins Aug. 26.

Students will attend face-to-face classes in grade-level cohorts. Tony Kloker, school superintendent, clarified it was part of a plan “to have the students stay with the same group of kids throughout the day.”  This is designed to reduce large gatherings in spaces like the library, gym, cafeteria and playground. Lunch will be served in the classroom. The school will only be open to students, family members and staff, according to the draft plan. 

For music and band, seventh and eighth grade students will be using the digital Smartmusic platform, but there will be no beginning band this year for sixth graders, according to the draft plan. 

The Montana High School Association on Monday released its guidelines for sports and music, and advised schools to restrict its music programs. See story below.

Hallways will be marked for directional traffic flow and some offices will have transparent barriers for protection, according to the draft plan. 

When it comes to the classroom, physical distancing will occur when possible as most rooms allow for three to six feet of separation. The draft plan also states “the wearing of masks will be required in most settings, especially where optimal physical distancing cannot occur.” This will be done in order to protect medically fragile and immunocompromised students and staff.

Masks will also be required upon entering the school building, in common areas and while riding the bus, according to the draft plan. 

All Montana City School staff will sign a statement guaranteeing their personal responsibility when it comes to health and safety. The statement requires all staff to report to their supervisors if they come in contact with a COVID-positive individual or if they exhibit any symptoms. The school also encourages all staff to submit to COVID-19 testing before the start of classes, and anytime during the year if they are symptomatic, according to the draft plan.

The draft plan also stated it may require a health screening for all those in attendance, but the school has not yet set any specific criteria at this time, said Kloker. 

Kloker said the school also has policies specific to COVID-19 that address staff concerns. So far, no teachers have indicated that they are not returning in the fall, said Kloker. 

While not required to sign a statement, students and parents are being asked to monitor symptoms and exposure and they must stay home and seek medical attention if they are feeling ill. Students who show symptoms while at school will be isolated until a parent can be notified and the student picked up.  

Previously sick or exposed students may not return to school until cleared by health officials. According to Kloker, if there is a positive case in the school, the health department will provide guidance as to an appropriate response.

For those students who require distance learning, the school will make arrangements to provide full-time opportunities to both students and families. Kloker also confirmed that distance learning students who do not have devices to continue their education may have access to Jet Pack Hot Spots, Chromebooks and iPads. A remote learning contract, that outlines expectations, must be signed by parents who want to continue their child’s education remotely.

The plan was created with guidance from the Academy of Pediatric, the Office of Public Instruction, and the Governor’s Plan, and is subject to change, according to the draft plan. 

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