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Cut Bank students and staff are finally headed back to school in our terrific facilities for the first time since mid-March! Thanks to a lot of hard work from our staff and our community’s support for public education, our doors are ready to open today, Wednesday, Aug. 26. Our Board of Trustees have been called upon to make many difficult decisions with very little notice in completely uncharted waters, and we are working out the details together.

This year will look much different than the remote learning of last spring. Students have the option of returning to school full-time or returning to school through remote learning. 

Those who are learning here at school will see things such as altered schedules, physical distancing wherever possible, and the use of face coverings where physical distancing is not possible. Our custodians will be sanitizing surfaces regularly, and hand sanitizer will be available in each classroom and school entrance.

Remote learners will be logging in to each class period each day, and our teachers will provide the necessary support for success for all students. Our processes will evolve throughout the school year. 

Our educational plan is available for review on the schoolwebsite at:

 www.cutbankschools.net

There has been some confusion about the differences between remote learning and home school. 

Remote learning is part of the Cut Bank Schools system and students choosing that option will be supported by teachers and administrators with help available after school as well. 

Home school students are to be taught by their parents or guardians without support from Cut Bank Schools. 

If you happen to have enlisted as a home school by mistake, you may still re-enroll your students by calling the appropriate school office. 

Our activity programs are going to look a bit different this year as well. We will be limiting fan attendance for our fall home events. For each event, the home team determines fan attendance for each event. 

For Cut Bank Schools, we are limiting home and visiting teams to four tickets for each participant. If you do not have a ticket, you will not be able to attend an event. 

Our complete activities guideline was acted upon by the Board of Trustees on Monday, Aug. 24. These guidelines will be posted on the school website as well.

Concessions will not be available at our fall home events. Our thought process is that we will start out fairly restrictive, with the ability to loosen the restrictions if community and state conditions allow. 

We wish to have our students have the opportunity to compete and participate, and the restrictions are necessary to ensure participation for our students. 

New staff members for this year will include Brandon Furr, CBMS Science; Shawntel Spiteri, CBMS History; Bailey Fox, 5th Grade; Jordan Hunt, CBHS History, Anna Smith, 6th Grade; Brittany Whitley, 3rd Grade; Julie Rodriguez, Hidden Lake Colony; and Nate Kavanagh, Elementary Counselor. Barb Claybourn will be returning to teach fifth grade.

New paraprofessionals for this school year include Mary Anderson, Hidden Lake Colony; Alecia Perry, elementary; Marlo Kennedy, elementary, Jessica Sheets, elementary; and Mary Yalovich, food service.

We are very happy with the recruiting class for this school year. We had some difficulty attracting teachers this summer due to the nationwide teacher shortage, but we are working on pay structure and incentives to improve our ability to attract and retain quality educators. 

Our entire staff and administration have been outstanding in their support of our educational programs, and we have developed a system that will be successful for onsite and remote learners alike. 

Construction projects for this summer started with sidewalk replacements at H.C. Davis and near the Central Office. Next came the crack repair and complete resurfacing of our tennis courts and track. The town football field is getting new LED lights thanks to the generosity of the Cut Bank Education Foundation and Alumni Association. We will have a new sound system at the town field as well. 

The Willie DeGroot High School gym had a new roof installed last week, and it looks fantastic. 

One project we have left is to replace the bleachers on the upper portions of the east and west side of the high school gym. This delay is due to a shutdown of the InterKal company that produces the bleachers. This project is slated for October. 

Our summer staff has done an excellent job preparing for this school year with lots of maintenance time due to the early shutdown last spring. Our schools and grounds look terrific going into the new school year. 

We are all looking forward to the return of students and a bit more of a normal routine.  

The return to school is the best option for most of our students. Our survey of our district’s parents shows that nearly 80% of parents intend to send their children to school for onsite instruction. Those who disagree with this assessment have the option to have their children educated by our staff remotely, or to take on the educational task as a parent on their own. 

We have consulted the Glacier County Health Department, and our School Nurse about our plan and the Board of Trustees have approved the plan going forward with the ability to amend as needed. 

The only thing we know for certain is that we have a solid plan in place, and this plan will evolve as this school year progresses. Cut Bank Schools will serve our students to the best of our ability whether your student is learning here in our schools or learning remotely at home.  

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