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Bozeman School Board sets target date for returning to In-Person Learning

Trustees voted 7-1 in support of the plan
Posted at 11:26 AM, Sep 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-23 13:26:58-04

BOZEMAN — Trustees established a target date for Bozeman students to transition back to more in-person learning.

But there’s still lots to be determined until board members give the green light for a return.

“I just don’t want to be forcing this decision, especially when we’re getting this tired,” said Bozeman School Board Trustee Tanya Reinhart late in the evening Monday night.

It was a long night for school board trustees, administrators, parents, teachers, and students who stayed up until 1 am to see whether classes would transition from the blended model to more in-person learning.

The meeting began with principals from Bozeman’s high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools outlining what it would take for schools to transition from the blended model to in-person learning.

Bozeman School Board sets target date for returning to In-Person Learning

Administrators highlighted many of the concerns for returning safely ranging from staffing shortages of custodians to scheduling logistics to maintaining a rhythm.

“I believe that remaining in the blended model gives us a better chance to maintain that continuity and rhythm for the longest period of time,” said Principal of Gallatin High School Erica Schnee on Monday night.

Later, trustees discussed and deliberated the next steps, posing questions like how much should principals, staff and the executive cabinet be involved in determining when it’s best to transition back into school?

“We have teachers who are just kind of wondering are we going to be in blended for now? When are we going to make a move? We haven’t established metrics. There’s no framework that this community can rely on,” said Trustee Douglas Fischer.

At one point there were over 900 participants on the call.

There were just under 500 participants when the official public comment period began at 11:30 at night.

“This is frustrating. Really frustrating. Please make some decisions,” said Holly, a parent in Bozeman.

“I just wanted to make clear that we are very much in favor of moving towards full-time school as soon as possible,” said Sarah Annarella.

“I’m just really confused why the schools were opened the way they were, without having staffing in place in advance to go into the full-time model and why we weren’t told in making the decision how hard it would be to transition from a blended model into something else,” said Jody.

As the night carried, trustees finally agreed on the plan.

“For each grade level band will remain in the blended model with a target move date of PK-5 November 2nd, middle schools of the beginning of the second trimester, and high schools the beginning of the second semester based on metrics developed by the board and subject to a board vote,” read Trustee Fisher aloud to the rest of the board.

The board approved the motion with a vote of 7-1. Trustee Andrew Willlett was the opposing vote.

Next School Board meeting… trustees will develop the metrics needed to determine whether students can return back to school at the targeted dates.

Those metrics will be based on information from the Gallatin City-County Health Department and CDC guidelines.

If the metrics are met and the school board votes in favor of returning on the targeted days, students form PRE-K to 8th grade would attend school 5 days a week, and high school students would meet for in-person learning 4 days a week.