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Paraprofessionals Candy Boggs, Denise Larson and Cathy Krapf prepare to hand out educational packets to Cut Bank Middle and High Schools students on Monday, March 30.

Cut Bank students went back to school on Monday, March 30, but they did so without leaving their homes. Gov. Bullock’s “stay at home” order came the day after the educational plan adopted by the Cut Bank School Board at a special meeting on Thursday, March 26. The meeting, which was held via Google Meets, was “attended” by some 45 interested community and staff members,

The district’s plan has been in the works since the Governor first closed schools on March 16. Under the Governor’s latest order, schools will remain closed until at least April 10. In the meantime, learning will continue. 

Cut Bank Schools Superintendent Wade Johnson said his staff–at all levels–has been “doing a great job. This plan doesn’t contain all the logistical items” the district has maneuvered and developed over the past two weeks, but it does spell out district’s strategy to ensure students receive the best possible education, given these less than ideal circumstances, assured Johnson.

“It’s mind boggling when you think about trying to communicate to over 750 entities,” Johnson told the board. Chairman Doug Ray, Vice Chair Darcy Hibbs and trustee Dean Berkram attended the meeting in person. Trustees Mike Hedges and Chantry Wahl attended electronically.

Staff members spent the better part of March 26-27 making sure packets were prepared and/or distributed to students and parents and online access was explained and set up.

An abbreviated “class schedule” was adopted for middle school and high school students, which calls for Period 1, 3, 5, and 7 classes to be held on Mondays and Wednesdays, while Period 2, 4, and 6 period classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The school day will run from 9-10:55 a.m.

CBHS and CBMS students’ assignments and recordings will be available through their Google Classrooms. “This is a learning process for all and we are very flexible,” assured school officials in the information prepared for students. “Teachers are also available in the afternoons to respond to emails and other methods of contact. Do not hesitate to reach out,” Johnson stated.

For elementary school students, teachers have been communicating with their students and their families on what their school day will look like. These schedules will be more flexible and subject to change, said Johnson.

Highlights of the plan, which is in the process of being approved by the Governor’s Office and the Office of Public Instruction, appear below.

According to the plan, Cut Bank Schools Certified and Classified Staff will be on-site (at school) or teleworking (off-site) providing instruction to students through:

•On-line courses

•Video chats/tutoring

•Phone conference calls

•Hard copy packets of materials

•Textbook guides

In order to ensure that all students have access to on-line coursework, the School District No. 15 is checking out Chromebooks (laptops) to students who need them. It is also using funds from the district’s Transportation Fund to reimburse parents who didn’t previously have Internet for that expense. The district is also purchasing “hotspots” and data plans for those without Internet access utilizing Transportation Funds.

The use of Transportation Funds for these expenses has been authorized by the Office of Public Instruction.

Cut Bank Schools will continue to provide all students, free of charge, with a “grab-and-go” lunch and breakfast.

Those students living in town can pick up the meals at either Anna Jeffries Elementary School or H.C. Davis Elementary School). The district will deliver meals to out-of-town students using the school route buses. Local delivery can also be arranged, if needed.To ensure the district prepares enough meals each day please call, 873-2229, ext. 214, between 9-10 a.m. and leave a message how many meals are needed. The district is also working on an online signup for the free meals.

The district’s plan also includes specific strategies for ensuring the education of students with special learning challenges and disabilities are customized to meet their needs. All in-person meetings will be conducted following CDC, State and local guidelines. The students educational and related services will be provided, in collaboration with parents, through:

•Alternative learning sites

•On-line learning

•Video chats/tutoring

•Phone conference calls

•Hard copy packets of materials

•Textbook guides

•Regular communication with teachers and para-professionals

Johnson said the district’s guidance counseling, social and emotional supports and services and school nurse services will also continue to be provided to students. Families will be provided contact information and staff will also be checking in with students to ensure their safety and well-being.

In other action taken at last week’s meeting, the board:

•Passed two COVID-19 Emergency Policies, as required.

•Accepted the resignation of fifth grade teacher Anthony Byrd, effective immediately. Retired Cut Bank educator Lisa Cline will take over his classes for the remainder of the school year said Johnson. 

•Hired Brittney Whitley, who taught here previously, to fill the fifth grade teaching vacancy for 2020-21 school year.

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