Updated: May 20, 2020 - 3:30 p.m.
MONTANA MOVING INTO PHASE 2 JUNE 1ST
Yesterday the Governor announced that our state would move into Phase 2 of the Plan to Reopen the Big Sky on June 1st. While there are some changes to group sizes for gathering outside of the home and capacity in bars and restaurants, we are not changing any of our district plans for the end of the year. Schedules for each school are established and communicated by the principal. Please check with your principal if you have any questions.
MEAL SERVICE DAYS OFF
There is no meal service occurring on Friday May 22nd or Monday May 25th. The lunch buses and the drop in centers will have extra meals and EmPower Packs to hand out on Thursday May 21st to tide students over during the 4-day weekend.
Thank you for your continued patience regarding our graduation ceremonies. We have completed our plans and submitted to the Missoula City-County Health Department. We received their approval today.
For in town high schools (Willard, Big Sky, Sentinel, and Hellgate) we will use Washington Grizzly Stadium, located on the UM campus. Seeley Swan High School will graduate at Seeley HS. Using the UM venue allowed us to develop a plan to group the attendees and graduates with separate parking and entrances, which was acceptable to the health department. This plan will allow us to have an in-person ceremony that achieves the goal of having seniors together to graduate with their classmates and allow for no more than 2 guests per graduate to be present for the ceremony. We are thankful to President Bodnar, the University of Montana, and the Missoula City-County Health Department for their collaboration and support with this new plan.
We did explore other venues. You may have heard last week that we had been offered the Kettlehouse Amphitheater by the owners of Logjam Presents. We are very thankful for their generosity and support. This beautiful venue would have worked perfectly for a smaller ceremony, but the Washington Grizzly Stadium is more practical for physical distancing for a larger ceremony.
Here is some basic information regarding our ceremonies.
- Seeley Swan HS will graduate in their gym on May 31 at 1pm. Details regarding the number of guests for each student and the safety protocols will be provided by Principal Palmer in the coming weeks.
- Willard will graduate at Washington Grizzly stadium on Thursday, June 4 at 4pm. Each graduate will be allowed to bring no more than 2 guests. Graduates will receive more information from Principal Ritchlin in the coming weeks.
- Hellgate, Sentinel and Big Sky will graduate on Friday, June 5, with Saturday saved as a backup day in case of weather delays. We will plan for our ceremonies to occur on Friday, but please save both days as potential graduation days. We will use the times advertised at the start of the year. Hellgate at 9am, Sentinel at Noon and Big Sky at 3pm. Each graduate will be allowed no more than 2 guests. Details regarding guest tickets will be provided next week.
A detailed letter was sent to seniors and their families with more information about these important events.In allowing these ceremonies, we are asking that all graduates and guests comply with our safety guidelines and ensure that the area around the Washington Grizzly Stadium remains clear of extra traffic and congestion.
- The Adult Education office is open Monday-Thursday from 8am-4pm. Staff is available by phone or email during this time. Call (406) 549-8765 or email LLC@mcps.k12.mt.us
- Academic Success Program classes are running through virtual and distance learning platforms. Call (406) 549-8765 to enroll.
- ETS/HiSET, Pearson Vue and IdentoGO services are operational by appointment only with a limited number of appointments available to respect social distancing and provide time for proper sanitation
- Updates on when classrooms may open and future class offerings will be posted at www.missoulaclasses.com and on our FaceBook page.
After deliberation and consideration of public input, our MCPS Board of Trustees voted on May 1, 2020, to keep our schools on our remote learning plan through the remainder of the school year. If you are interested in some of the key issues that informed this decision, I have shared them at the bottom of this letter.
Our school campuses, office buildings, and playgrounds will remain closed until further notice.
Between May 4th and May 13th, we will work with administrators and our educators to finalize our grading information so that we can inform our families. In addition, our response team will start working on an “end-of-year” plan that includes operational topics such as, return of materials, locker/desk cleanout and other tasks we will need to accomplish in a safe manner as we think about wrapping up the end of the year.
Governor Bullock just concluded a press conference announcing his gradual plan to reopen Montana.
He announced a statewide school closure that will extend to Thursday, May 7th and he left the decision to remain closed or to reopen to the local decision makers, specifically the locally elected Board of Trustees. In addition, the Governor confirmed that whatever our board decides, we will not risk the loss of state funding.
At our next board meeting on Tuesday, April 28th, we will present our Trustees with a list of items that should be considered as they weigh the decision of whether or not to reopen our schools this spring. For example, social distancing, use of cloth face coverings, and protecting students and staff who are in vulnerable groups, just to name a few of the most critical items.
We have been collecting many thoughts and questions from staff and community, regarding a decision to reopen or stay closed. We will try and capture all of the thoughts that have been shared in our list of considerations presented to the Board. We believe our Board will use this list in their deliberations. We will also use this list of considerations to develop a reopen plan that could be used this Spring or next Fall. The Board will begin their deliberations at the April 28th meeting and likely make a final decision at a special Board meeting on May 1st.
If you are interested in watching that meeting, check out the details for watching via livestream on our webpage. This information will be posted on Friday April 24th when the agenda is posted. Your best bet for live streaming without a delay will be to check the MCPS Facebook page where we will repost the MCAT livestream of the meeting.
We will also present Trustees with contingency plans related to our High School graduation ceremonies. We will ask Trustees to make a final decision regarding graduation at the May 12th board meeting. As our ceremonies do not occur until the first week of June, we believe it is prudent to wait as long as we can before a final decision is made. Our contingency plans will rely heavily on the guidance of our Missoula City-County Health Department and restrictions regarding crowd size or social distancing. Receiving their guidance will help us plan a ceremony that honors our graduates, while at the same time protects student safety.
In accordance with Governor Bullock’s updated set of directives and guidance shared this afternoon in a press conference, Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed through Friday, April 24, 2020.
All previous closures of MCPS campuses PreK-12, sports practices and driver’s education programs, and all Life Long Learning Center programs and classes will be extended through Friday, April 24, 2020. All MCPS playgrounds will remain closed.
In addition, the Governor also encouraged all of us to wear a cloth face mask when we leave our homes for essential services like accessing food or going into work if you are an essential services worker. Thank you for doing your part to ensure we stay at home as much as possible, wear cloth face masks in public, and maintain appropriate physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We understand that school closure can be a hardship for our students and families. We will continue to provide meals to all youth in our community via our elementary school bus stops and drop offs at each of our schools. We will continue to provide remote learning options during the extended school closure. Please continue to check email and our website for information, we expect to share more information with you on Friday 4/7/20 by 5pm.
If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).
Possibility of extending school closures, standardized testing cancelled for this school year
Governor Steve Bullock has directed the closure of schools through April 10. With the national news regarding directives for staying at home through April 30, we expect that the Governor’s school closure order will likely be extended past April 10. On a call yesterday with Superintendents, the Governor stated that he will likely make a determination and announcement next week, Tuesday or Wednesday. We will notify you as soon as we are notified of a closure extension beyond April 10.
The Governor has also approved our education plan which means he has provided us a waiver for lost days of school. Now that we have approval, we will likely not have to extend the school year due to the COVID-19 school closures. We were also notified that the state testing, which usually happens in the spring, has been canceled for this year. Our state received a waiver from the federal education department so that we do not have to complete the state testing this year.
MCPS School Playgrounds closed
We are closing all MCPS school playgrounds to the public until further notice. We need to take this step in alignment with the closing of City of Missoula Parks to keep our community safe and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Like the Parks and Recreation Department, we understand the importance of physical outdoor activity. Please follow all CDC guidelines and practice social distancing as you enjoy all of Missoula’s trails and open spaces.
We have updated a few of our bus stops in the Woodman school area, Desmet school area, and the Blue Mountain Trailer Park. Please click on the big green meals button on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page for more information.
We are so thankful that we have been able to serve 17,444 meals to our community since this service started on Monday 3/23/30. Please join me in thanking our Food Service staff and share this information with families who may need access to critical nutrition support.
Picking up medication
As schools are closed longer than initially planned for, more parents may need to obtain student medications. If you need to pick up medication or medical equipment, please contact Linda Simon, our Nursing Supervisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 728-2400 ex 1073 and she will arrange to meet you at the school.
Governor Bullock approved our COVID-19 Emergency Plan
Now that we have approval from the Governor’s Office, we can assure you and we will not have to extend the school year due to the COVID-19 school closures.
The 2020 Census Information
Having an accurate population count can help our community in many ways, including federal funding that is directed to our schools. Which is why we are encouraging everyone to complete the 2020 Census. Don't wait for your official invitation, fill out your Census today at my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.
- Responding to the Census is quick, easy and safe.
- Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding over the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.
- Montana receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data.
- For every Montana resident counted, a Census study estimates the state will receive $20,000 over the decade for things like healthcare, schools, highways, needs-based support and more.
- Missing only one resident means that a community misses $20,000 of its fair share of federal funding.
- Communities rely on Census data to plan for the future.
- Responding to the Census once every decade matters today and for the next ten years. Make it count, Montana!
In accordance with Governor Bullock’s updated set of directives and guidance shared this afternoon in a press conference, Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed through Friday, April 10, 2020.
All previous closures of MCPS campuses PreK-12, sports practices and driver’s education programs, and all Life Long Learning Center services will be extended until Friday, April 10, 2020.
In addition, the Governor also issued a directive limiting nonessential social and recreational gatherings of over 10 people outside of a home if a distance of over 6 feet cannot be maintained. Thank you for doing your part to ensure we maintain appropriate physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.
We understand that school closure can be a hardship for our students and families. We will continue to provide meals to all youth in our community via our elementary school bus stops and drop offs at each of our schools. We will continue to provide remote learning options during the extended school closure. Please continue to check email and our website for information, we expect to share more information with you on Wednesday 3/25/20 by 5pm.
What is Coronavirus or COVID-19? Check out this explainer video from Dr. Peter Lin
Help us stop the rumors about this virus with these facts.