It has been a very bizarre month since the COVID-19 closures came about. Thank you to all of our school community for your patience as we have attempted to find a sustainable method of providing quality educational services while maintaining safety requirements.
Our teachers and staff have done outstanding work in finding a system that will help our students stay engaged during this unprecedented closure.
Gov. Bullock has extended our school closures through April 24, and we will continue with modified instruction methods until we are allowed to resume business as usual.
I am happy to report Cut Bank High School is functioning completely through electronic means, and our students are responding very well.
Cut Bank Middle School is well on their way to accomplishing a completely online system of communication as well.
It is a bit more problematic for our HC Davis and Anna Jeffries students to operate using solely online materials, but beginning the week of April 14, we will be down to one pickup and delivery date on Thursdays each week.
Your teachers and principals will be providing the details of the updates if they have not done so already. Our technology support has been excellent in providing devices for families, and we have hotspots on the way for those with limited Internet access.
Food service has been excellent from the start of this pandemic as well. Barb DeZort and our kitchen crew have been providing breakfast and lunch for approximately 130 students per day of school operations, and our transportation department has been helping to deliver meals and homework supplies for the past two weeks as well.
Our custodians and maintenance department have been ensuring that our facilities are clean and ready for staff use, and we are prepared for a full return to service as soon as we are allowed to have students back in our buildings.
These have been very trying times for all of our Cut Bank School Community, but we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated staff ready to serve in whatever manner is necessary. There is some good news on the horizon.
The number of new COVID-19 cases has dramatically slowed, and there has been conversation about school reunification for the first time, which indicates that a return to regular operations may be possible. It is too early to predict at this time whether or not that will mean a return this school year, or in the fall, but we remain optimistic that a return may happen after the current April 24 closure extension is reached.
There are many opinions on whether or not students will be allowed to return to school this year. Governor Bullock says we are out for sure until April 24. The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has stated we should plan to be out for the remainder of the school year.
I am more optimistic than most. I believe if we follow COVID-19 safety protocols we will beat it sooner rather than later. If we remain diligent in keeping our distances, and washing our hands with soap and water, there is a real chance that we could return this year, AND there could be a short spring season for activities. The Montana High School Association has joined Governor Bullock in extending current closures to April 24.
The measures we have taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been effective, and everyone is working toward a goal of getting back to normal as soon as possible. We are very hopeful for a swift end to the COVID-19 pandemic in Montana and in Glacier County.
Our Cut Bank Schools staff has been very fortunate to be funded in full during this pandemic, and Scott Laird and Charlene Aberg have been excellent in ensuring that our payroll has been accurate and timely. I am very appreciative of the awesome work Scott and Charlene have done.
Currently, we are preparing for the retirements of Mr. Laird and Mrs. Aberg. Linsey Milender is working with Mr. Laird and learning the system of a business manager and school clerk. Next week, we expect to have hired Jaleen Harrill to work with Mrs. Aberg to learn the workings of the Personnel Services position so that we are prepared when Charlene and Scott depart on June 30. We have lots to do and much to learn before that time, but I’m certain that Mrs. Milender and Mrs. Harrill are up to the challenge.
I strongly urge all Cut Bank School’s staff to support all of our local businesses now and when we get back to regular activities. The same businesses that we ask for fundraising every year will need our support more than ever to recover from lost opportunities. Amazon does not provide the support for our student activities that is supplied by our Cut Bank community businesses.
Cut Bank High School will do everything we can to ensure that graduation occurs as scheduled on Sunday, May 24. We will explore options available at that time, and we can broadcast from the gym keeping respectful distances and utilizing the NFHS program if necessary. Another possibility would be to host at the football field with limited participation. The preferred option is to have COVID-19 behind us and host graduation with full participation in our gymnasium as planned.
Lastly, thank you to all the parents who have been so supportive and helpful through this process. Keeping up with all the changes we have initiated, and helping your children grow while trying to keep up with work is tremendously demanding and we at Cut Bank Schools salute your efforts. We will do our best to keep schedule changes from here on out as minimal as possible so that you all can develop a sustainable routine.