Phase II – Operational Description

Weekly Schedule

In the modified, Phase II model, in-person learning is the primary mode of instruction. However, with many students needing to remain in a remote setting (for both short and long-term periods of time), daily and weekly schedules have been modified to ensure blended learning options remain viable for anyone who cannot attend school in-person.

  • Digital Learning Initiative (DLI): Remote school attendance through the Digital Learning Initiative will continue in Phase II for all levels (elementary, middle, and high). While some schedule changes may become necessary when phasing-up or down, the structure and attendance of DLI should remain consistent.
  • Elementary School: Elementary students may attend school in-person, beginning with a four-day in-person schedule – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. While a majority of elementary-level teachers are not responsible for both in-person and DLI instruction, ongoing quarantines continue to impact daily attendance. Attendance on Wednesday, “C Days,” will remain generally remote unless students are attending in-person intervention programs or other structured opportunities. Wednesdays will also continue to include needed time for teacher planning.
  • Middle School: Middle school students attending C.R. Anderson Middle and Helena Middle may attend school in-person for up to four days per week on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule. A fifth, remote/digital day (Wednesday) is required within the weekly schedule to ensure that student needs are being met and that teachers have the required time to prepare for the dual requirements of their teaching. Attendance on Wednesday, “C Days,” will remain generally remote unless students are attending in-person intervention programs or other structured opportunities. Wednesdays will also continue to include needed time for teacher planning.
  • High School: High school students attending Capital High and Helena High may attend school in-person for up to four days per week on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule. A fifth, remote/digital day (Wednesday) is required within the weekly schedule to ensure that student needs are being met and that teachers have the required time to prepare for the dual requirements of their teaching. Attendance on Wednesday, “C Days,” will remain generally remote unless students are attending in-person intervention programs or other structured opportunities. Wednesdays will also continue to include needed time for teacher planning.
  • Project for Alternative Learning (PAL): PAL will return to an in-person format for all students utilizing the above-noted Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday format. Wednesday will remain a remote “C Day” until determined otherwise.
  • Access to Success: High school students attending Access to Success will attend school on a daily/weekly basis as communicated by Access to Success and Helena College. Students/Families are encouraged to contact Access to Success for additional information – (406) 447-6380 or https://accesstosuccess.helenaschools.org/

Daily Schedule

Bell Schedules: Bell (start/end) times at all levels have been adjusted to allot for time needed to meet the needs of students attending in-person and online. In addition, the below tiers aid in providing needed transportation to/from school. By design, bell times in Phase II aim to remain consistent with Phase I. However, this may not be possible at the high school level and will depend on the finalized block schedule for both Helena High and Capital High.

  • Elementary Bell Schedule: 8:45am (start) to 2:20pm (end)
  • Middle School Bell Schedule: 8:05am (start) to 1:40pm (end)
  • High School Bell Schedule: High school start/end times will be determined in accordance with the forthcoming block schedule. Due to the eight-period structure of the high school day (including Zero Period), start and end times are expected to shift depending on how periods are “blocked.”. Once finalized, a block schedule for both Helena High and Capital High will be communicated.

Block Schedules: A block schedule ensures smaller, more consistent cohorts of students by school day. Instead of attending all classes within a given day, students attend only specific, designated classes, remaining in those classes for a longer period of instructional time. Block scheduling can also aid in reducing the likeness of becoming a close contact (quarantine) to an identified case.

  • Middle Schools: Block format currently being considered (expected to be finalized and communicated no later than March 1st)
  • High Schools: Block format currently being considered (expected to be finalized and communicated in early March).

School Operations

School operations in Phase II have been modified to reduce the risk of virus transmission. These modifications include designated traffic patterns within schools, reduced restroom capacity to avoid interior lines, and specifically designed breakfast/lunch opportunities.

  • Cafeterias, gymnasiums, and other large spaces will function with reduced capacity to ensure appropriate distancing especially when students are unmasked and eating. Students may unmask to eat in designated spaces only with limitations on the total capacity of that space. Due to the unique nature of each school campus, schools will develop site-specific plans for student dining options.
  • Cohort recess and lunch groupings at the elementary level will be utilized to limit student exposure.

Remote Learners

  • Students attending via the Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) remain actively engaged in school but attend via ongoing online teaching/learning services. DLI students will remain enrolled and assigned to their home school and receive ongoing instruction from designated in-person teachers or assigned digital resource teachers. DLI students should have opportunities to attend school both synchronously and asynchronously.

School Event/Activities Protocols

School events will be limited in Phase II. Guidelines for specific, annual events include the below restrictions.

  • Open Houses, Parent/Teacher Conferences and Parent Nights: These types of events/meetings may include in-person attendance but will require a specifically designed/approved plan. Otherwise, it is recommended that these events/meetings remain digital.
  • School Assemblies: School assemblies may occur provided that the students remain within their cohorts/classes. Gatherings of any size beyond scheduled class cohorts must be approved by the school’s administrator.
  • Field Trips: Proposals must be reviewed/approved by school nurses and school administrators. Overnight fieldtrips are not advised in Phase II without specific planning and approval by the superintendent/designee.
  • Musical and Theatre Events: In Phase II, indoor events will be modified in an effort to limit gathering sizes and maximize public safety precautions. Events involving the public must include a pre-approved plan that aligns with local orders for gathering sizes. Event plans must be reviewed/approved by school nurses, school administrator, and Lewis & Clark Public Health. Outdoor events, if possible, are preferred but will need to remain aligned to local orders for gathering sizes.
  • Activities/Athletics: Extra-curricular activities/events must be in accordance with MHSA guidelines. Plans associated with spectators (non-school members of the public) must receive approval by Lewis & Clark Public Health.
  • School Pictures: Weather permitting, school pictures are encouraged to take place outside. Should an outdoor setting not be available, distancing and mask expectations (when not being photographed) should be enforced.

Visitor Protocols

  • Allowed visitors/volunteers include student teachers, student nurses, associated supervisors, approved contractors, and city/county/state employees associated with child services.
  • Restricted visitors and volunteers will need special permission from the school administration to proceed beyond the front office. Restricted visitors are encouraged to utilize email/phone for general communication. Restricted visitors include all individuals not specifically noted above.