This Cannot Continue

COVID graphIt is with much disappointment that our school district has had to make the decision to move both Helena High and Capital High to an all remote learning schedule beginning Monday, November 23, 2020. This decision is meant to be temporary in nature. Yet, we all shudder as we consider what the next few months could become should our state, community, and nation fail to flatten this dramatic and prolonged upward curve of daily COVID infections.

For the past three months, I have personally witnessed the inspirational efforts of our employees, students, and families as they have worked together to keep one another safe. Yes, school in 2020 does not look or feel “normal,” but as health professionals have warned, “normal” can have dire consequences within a pandemic. Instead, our incredible educators and students have come together to establish new norms and have selflessly committed to doing whatever it takes to keep our schools safe and sustainable. Sadly, as cases continue to climb, vital components of our community including healthcare and schools have become impacted and our decision in Helena to move our high schools to remote learning is similar to what other districts across Montana have had to do in recent weeks.

As this decision is related to staffing and not due to an outbreak of COVID cases within either school, we will be working to keep both high schools open and available to our high school students who may need services, assistance, or want to participate in optional labs and/or extracurricular opportunities. However, both the Helena High and Capital High campuses will look and feel very different over the next two weeks. This is a cause and effect scenario, one that has been months in the making.

On behalf of everyone serving as part of our Helena Public Schools, I implore our Helena community to do everything possible to keep one another safe and restore health across our county. In doing so, we will be saving the lives of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Our students will be able to return to something more normal in terms of school and our heroic healthcare workers will be relieved of the tremendous weight of care that they are currently working to meet.

Throughout this pandemic, our state and community have proven our collective ability to come together in support of one another. Today, we face our greatest challenge to date. With projections of hope on the horizon, there is light at the end of this tunnel but we are still well within the tunnel. What we do today, tomorrow, and across the coming weeks and months will determine where we are as a community when we emerge into the coming spring of 2021.

To all of our healthcare professionals serving on the frontlines of this pandemic, please know that we stand with you. We hear your calls for change and commit to doing all that we can to support you as our healthcare system strains and strives to care for everyone in need across our community. We are still “howling” in honor of your professionalism and dedication and are incredibly grateful for your continued efforts.

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