2020-2021 Planning Update: 6.23.2020

20-2021 Planning updateWith the end of the 2019/2020 school year, our attentions have turned full-time to planning for the forthcoming 2020/2021 school year. In reality, for several months we have been moving forward with one eye on our return to school in the fall. Our June 9th update provided an overview of our collaborative planning process including the eight teams working to plan and prepare for the variety of scenarios that we are expected to encounter in the coming months. That process is in full-swing with over 60 educators and other professionals involved in this collective effort. Many members of these design teams have willingly given up a portion of their summer to ensure that our plans for the coming year are comprehensive, inclusive and uphold our priorities as a district. We are exceptionally thankful for their ongoing commitment.

As previously noted, we are planning to open, in-person and on-time for the 2020/2021 school year. This is a driving facet of our plans as we all want to be together again with our students. However, as these last seven days have taught us, the COVID-19 pandemic remains active and dynamic. Since no one can accurately predict the coming twelve months with any certainty, our developing plans will include a multifaceted design in anticipation of every conceivable situation. At this time, you can expect that we will release drafts of our developing plans for public consideration and input. Additionally, each of the above-mentioned design teams are paired with a feedback team made up of parents, community partners, industry experts, fellow educators, and other school district employees. These intentional feedback loops allow us to collectively develop plans in a response manner. That noted, please know that meaningful collaboration requires both time and effort. Our commitment is to deliver the best possible plan for our students, families, employees and our Helena community. However, this selected, highly collaborative planning process will understandably not move as quickly as other models.

One helpful resource that has aided our planning efforts is access to the insights that parents and families shared via our year-end remote services survey. The quantitative survey responses and the qualitative open responses have helped inform and confirm aspects of last spring that were either successful or challenging. An additional, confidential family survey is forthcoming that is designed to help us better understand individual family needs, including those that may be health-related and require individualized accommodations. This feedback will be helpful as we consider a multitude of services that will be needed next year.

Please continue to access these regular planning updates via our website and social media pages. In the coming days, we look forward to receiving important state-level guidance which will undoubtedly inform and enrich our plans. Links to that guidance will be included on our website along with other valuable resources that are beginning to become available for consideration. In the interim, please continue to send feedback, ideas, and questions to us via planning2020@helenaschools.org. As partners dedicated to serving you and your children safely and effectively across the coming school year, your time, input, and support are sincerely appreciated.

Tyler Ream
Learner, Educator and Proud Superintendent of the Helena Public Schools