The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Big Sandy School's Phased Reopening Discussion


July 21, 2020

The plan to open Big Sandy schools is still in the discussion format. They have asked every parent to take a survey on the Big Sandy School's Web site. It is important to have parents input before they make their final decisions. There are three options: Option 1 full return to school with safeguards in place such as mask-wearing, temperature checks, frequent hand washing/sanitizing, limits on large gatherings, no visitors allowed in the buildings; Option 2 Blending learning model where half of the students come on Monday/Wednesday and the other half on Tuesday/Thursday. On the days students aren't in school, they would be doing lessons online at home. Option 3 Learning continues at home.

The school board had a working meeting to discuss the complexities of opening the school. It started with the first thing of the day for the student's school bus ride. Their temperature will be taken before they can get on the bus. Anything above 100.4 will not be allowed to ride the bus. Also, there is only one student per seat unless they are relatives. They will also be assigned a seat in case of contact tracing. They will know who was close to them.

When they get out at the school, they will only enter through one door. Their temperature will be retaken. Any temperature above 100.4, the student will be taken to a sickbed area, and parents will come and get them.

Breakfast will be served differently, and tables will be spread out. If the tables are full, older kids may have to go back to their classrooms.

The discussion was if students are in the hallways, they must wear a mask. While in their classroom and their pods (assigned group of children), they do not need to wear a mask, unless they have split classes. The worn face masks will be placed in a dirty pile and washed at the school at the end of the day. Washing machines will be placed in both schools. The decision of when a mask should be worn will be decided at the next school board meeting.

After recess time, it will take at least 5 minutes to clean the equipment cleaning between playtimes. Time schedules may need to be adjusted.

There is a concern that there will not be enough Clorox wipes and other cleaning supplies. Cleaning thoroughly every night could take three staff.

They are also aware of children and staff that may be sensitive to the cleaning supply. They talked about cleaning with a steamer, but they didn't think that was a viable option with all the paper in the classrooms.

Likewise, after every PE, all items used will need to be cleaned thoroughly.

At this time, they have no idea how they will have music classes.

Lunch at the grade school was discussed. There can only be 50 students in the lunchroom at one time, and because of the issue of one student per seat on the bus, how many bus trips will be needed to transfer students from the high school to the grade school for lunch.

Kelly Haaland said the Montana High School Association would have guidelines for school sports out by July 27th.

The school schedule will need to be changed.

More than once, it was brought up about how families have a huge responsibility to keep their children healthy. It was mentioned that if the school and parents work together to keep everyone healthy, we can make it through this difficult time. Parents need to know the school is required to do these safety precautions, and it is not because they want to create a difficult situation for students. Please do your part as well. Do not send a sick child to school.

If you have a child that is at a higher risk, it is possible to work with the school and have long-distance learning.

No one will be allowed to drink out of the water fountains, so the school has some Power Aide water bottles or can bring one of your own with you to school.

Each student is asked to disinfect personal belongings, such as their backpacks each night.

Maryetta mentioned how everyone in the school is working hard, stepping up their efforts to make this school year a good year.

Lastly, the school needs to make plans in case we go back into Phase 1. However, they are hopeful that as we take the precautions necessary, we will get to Phase 3. The school will then be filled to its "capacity and full operations with continued vigilance in health and safety best practices."


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