2020-2021 Planning Update 8.21.2020

books and an apple

August 21, 2020

As we look to welcome our colleagues back to our campuses next week, the start of the 2020/2021 school year is just around the corner. While different from any other year, the excitement, energy, and anticipation remain high as we continue to prepare. This week, a number of updates were made to our Opening of Schools Plan (link). These updates include information pertaining to our forthcoming Rolling Start Week of August 31 through September 4, context related to transportation, and an update on SACC/Child Care.

Below are listed updates contained in the 08/20 version of our plan

  • Updated information pertaining to home/school symptom screenings (pg. 8)
  • Additional information related to our Rolling Start Week of August 31 through September 4 (pg. 25)
  • Transportation Update (pg. 37)
  • SACC/Child Care Information (pg. 38)
  • Updated questions/answers added to our FAQ section (pg. 40)

Below are two commonly asked questions from the past few days.

What local health indicators are the Helena Public Schools reviewing in concert with local health officials in monitoring COVID-19 across the county?
The Helena Public Schools remain aligned and in close connection with our partners at Lewis & Clark Public Health. As noted above in the Phase-by-Phase Decisions section, we actively monitor a host of local health indicators including each of the below.

  • Lewis & Clark Public Health Dashboard: https://www.lccountymt.gov/health/covid-19/reopening-criteria-phase-2-to-3.html
  • Positive county-specific cases per day
  • Positive county case ratio per day (per 100,000)
  • Positive county-specific cases per week
  • Positive county case ration per week (per 100,000)
  • Two-week trend of positive county-specific cases
  • Total active cases by county
  • Active county case ratio
  • Rate of Transmission for Montana (link)

As of this morning, the above listed indicators were recorded as follows for each of the past eight weeks. While not firm targets, the numbers listed in relation to Friday, September 4 are consistent with nationally normed data markers as to how we would like to see these local health indicators trend by early September. While active county-cases remain high, we are encouraged to see the two-week trend of positive cases fall for each of the past two weeks.

What will the first few weeks of school look like in terms of our Back to School schedule?
As noted, Back to School is structured differently this year. The below schedule provides the needed time for training, preparation, and transition as we return to school (remote and in-person). Phase I has been designated as our first phase of the school year but this schedule will not be initiated until the week of September 8, 9, 10, and 11. Our Rolling Start week occurs prior from August 31 through September 4. Please look for school specific information pertaining to your schedule for Rolling Start.

2020 Back to School Schedule:
August 24 through August 28: School Preparedness Week

  • This week is dedicated to training, professional development, and campus/classroom preparation
  • Per specific schools, small groups of students and/or parent/student/teacher “meet & greet” opportunities may be included this week

August 31 through September 4: Rolling Start Week

  • Small orientation and transition groups of students per day
  • Schools will be communicating school-specific schedules shortly

September 7 through September 11: Phase I Initiated

  • September 7 (No School – Labor Day Holiday)
  • Phase I will remain ongoing until announced otherwise
  • Due to the Monday, Labor Day Holiday, the A/B schedule this week will be modified
    • A Days are Tuesday, September 8th and Wednesday, September 9th
    • B Days are Thursday, September 10th and Friday, September 11th

Phase I will continue until designated otherwise.

Finally, a scholarship opportunity has come available through Child Care Connections to assist Montana’s families working to balance professional responsibilities, child care, and changes in school or care schedules. This scholarship is available to help families offset the costs of in-home care for children aged 0 to 18 who live in a household with a special circumstance. The scholarship offers a flat award of $4,000 per eligible family. This award is to be used for in-home care expenses or in another provider’s home, such as that of a family member, friend, or neighbor who is providing unregulated care for a child/children. This scholarship opportunity opened this week and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please view this (link) for more information and access to the scholarship application.

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