HELENA- Governor Steve Bullock released his plan for reopening schools in Montana.
A release from the Office of the Governor says they met with a group of professionals from teachers to administrators to union representatives to gain insight and input from those with firsthand knowledge of the struggles schools have had and expect to have through the crisis.
The plan, “The Governor’s Plan for Reopening Safe and Healthy Schools” outlines how and what schools will be doing to reopen.
According to the plan, a phased reopening plan that will align with the Governor’s Reopening the Big Sky Plan will be used.
The phases as outlined in the plan:
Phase I lifts the stay at home order to allow for gradual re-opening while minimizing the spread of COVID-19 through strict social distancing and building safety protocols. Schools may re-open for in-person instruction depending upon the circumstances of their community. For those students unable to attend in-person, school districts should continue to provide a manner of remote learning, school meals (where applicable), services for students with disabilities, and any other services customarily provided in a school setting.
As the state moves into Phase II, school districts will open and to continue to adhere to strict social distancing and building safety protocols. Limitations around large social gatherings remain in place.
Phase III eases most restrictions, but still encourages social distancing and limitations on large social gatherings to allow the economy to strategically reopen while continuing to prioritize public health. While this phase will facilitate a return to a “new normal” for schools and communities, it will be equally important to continue to monitor public health indicators and adjust strategies to mitigate community spread.
For a more thorough breakdown of the phases, you can read the Governor’s Plan for Reopening Safe and Healthy Schools here.
The Health and Safety plan includes school districts consulting with local health officials and keeping discussions with collective bargaining units in mind.
Students and/or teachers in an at-risk group or those caring for individuals in an at-risk group should have additional accommodations provided to them including teaching classes remotely, utilizing a larger classroom where social distancing can be maintained, or given an option not to return until the risks are reduced.
The plan also includes staggering student arrival times to minimize crowding near school entrances, keeping libraries, gyms and playgrounds off-limits unless they can be sanitized between groups and breaking larger classes into smaller groups.
You can read the full plan for reopening schools here.