The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Governor Bullock, Lt. Governor Cooney release plan Reopening School


July 8, 2020

“Governor Steve Bullock and Lt. Governor Mike Cooney today released the Governor’s Plan for Reopening Safe and Healthy Schools for Montana to provide flexible guidance for public schools to prepare to offer in-person instruction in the fall,” on Thursday, July 2nd. They presented to the school a 17-page guideline for the school to implement. Ultimately the school board will need to apply those regulations by voting in Big Sandy’s 2020-2021 school year. There are guidelines for all three phases of reopening the schools, due to COVID-19.

Kelly Haaland, Big Sandy’s School Superintendent, said, “We are in uncertain times. In the coming school year, I don’t know what it will look like. You want normal. We won’t know what normal is. We are working at making sure our kids come first. I will be having meetings with all the school personnel. We have three plans to work out. If a person chooses not to send their child to school, they will still need to be monitored. We’ll have to work it out. We will have to be flexible. Our local district has to plan for us, not for Fort Benton, not for Chester but for us. We have to have a plan that’s best for our kids and us.” In another couple of days, he will receive the recommendations for athletics from the Montana High School Association. “They could be not very friendly, but we will need to work with it.” Kelly would like anyone who would like to correspond with him to please send him a letter with their recommendations. “We have to work as a community to ensure that our kids continue to receive the education they deserve and keep everybody safe. How can we do that? Those are the things we have to work out.”

Continuing with the Governor’s press release stating, “We are acutely aware of the role played by in-person teaching, not only in the students’ lives, but also in the lives of the entire family. Public education has shaped who we are today, and we want to make certain that our children have the same experience. This is why we’ve made the safe reopening of our public schools a top priority,” Governor Bullock and Lt. Gov. Cooney wrote in the plan. “Noting the uniqueness of every school district in Montana, our goal for this document is not to be prescriptive, but to provide effective, flexible guidelines to all schools in hopes that we can safely resume in-person instruction in the fall.”

“Keeping each person in our community safe as we reopen schools is a solemn responsibility. As a member of my own district’s back to school team, I appreciate the guidance given in this document, which will help frame our plans to return safely to school,” Sharon Carroll, a teacher in Ekalaka said. “Engaging local public health authorities and local school district leadership teams while using the resources, procedures, and protocols shared in the Governor’s Plan will assist teams in developing a Health and Safety Plan unique to each district. As a teacher, a rancher, and a former chair of Montana’s Board of Public Education, I have often observed Montana grit. We’ve got this, Montana.”

“MFPE appreciates the Governor’s inclusion of our members throughout this process. MFPE members will rely on this guidance as they continue planning to safely reopen schools in the fall,” MFPE President Amanda Curtis said.


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