District COVID-19 Update – 11.19.2020

District COVID-19 UpdatesParents and Families,

Due to staffing challenges associated with this ongoing pandemic, both Helena High School and Capital High School will temporarily close to in-person instruction beginning this Monday, November 23, 2020.  This is not a result of in-school virus transmission. Rather, the continued escalation of local COVID-19 cases has significantly hindered our collective ability to keep staffing levels at an acceptable minimum.

Many of our employees have been impacted by quarantines, positive cases, surrounding district school closures, day care closures, and/or responsibilities as care providers for loved ones. Projections for the next two weeks place us in a precarious situation where all of our schools cannot remain open and appropriately staffed. Therefore, we have had to make the difficult decision to move both Helena High School and Capital High School to a remote-only environment for two weeks. Please note that all schools, including HHS and CHS, will remain open tomorrow, Friday, November 20, 2020, with in-person instruction taking place with B Cohort students.

Our students and staff have worked tirelessly to follow all health and safety protocols and have successfully limited the spread of the virus in our schools. However, the spread in our community is so significant that we are no longer able to maintain adequate staffing levels. We understand the impact closing K-8 schools has on our younger students and their families. For this reason, after evaluating how to reduce the impact on families and still staff some of our schools, we have made the decision to move our high schools to a fully remote model. This will enable us to shift available high school support staff and substitutes to the K-8 schools in an effort to keep all of our K-8 schools and PAL open using the current A Day / B Day model.

The remote-only environment for Helena High School and Capital High School will begin on Monday, November 23, 2020 and will continue for two weeks, through Friday, December 4, 2020. All other Helena Public Schools, including all elementary schools, both middle schools and PAL, will remain open, utilizing the current Phase I schedule. Access to Success will continue to utilize their previously communicated schedule. The move to remote learning will impact only Helena High School and Capital High School. We will reassess whether to remain remote or return to the current A Day / B Day high school model following the upcoming Thanksgiving Break. Our hope is that we can bring both high schools back to in-person learning beginning Monday, December 7, 2020. In order to do so, we must be able to appropriately staff our schools. With cases continuing to rise to record levels, we will need the full support of our Helena community to flatten this two-month long curve and restore relative health and safety across our community.

For students, parents, and families of Helena High School and Capital High School, please know that you will be receiving specific information from your school shortly. This information will outline what you can expect over the next two weeks including remote classes/instruction, available on-campus services, food services, and extracurricular opportunities.

Again, please note the below key points associated with this decision – We thank you for your continued understanding and support.

Key Points:

  • All schools, including HHS and CHS, will remain in session on Friday, November 20th, 2020
  • Beginning Monday, November 23, 2020:
    • Helena High School and Capital High School will move to remote learning for two weeks beginning Monday, November 23, 2020, through Friday, December 4, 2020
    • All other HSD schools will remain in-session through our current Phase I model with in-person instruction taking place by A/B cohort
  • Due to the forthcoming Thanksgiving break, all schools are closed Wednesday, November 25, 2020 through Friday, November 27, 2020
  • The Helena Public Schools will be carefully monitoring this situation and will provide parents/families with an update on this situation no later than Thursday, December 3rd, 2020
  • Link: This Cannot Continue (https://helenaschools.org/2020/11/19/this-cannot-continue/)