Glasgow Schools Moving Forward with Reopening
August 12, 2020
Glasgow Schools will be reopening this month. That was the unanimous decision of the Glasgow School Board at their meeting on Aug. 6. Board members Mona Amundson, Angie Page, Blaine White and Ryan Fast were present. Superintendent Wade Sundby attended to present the policy committee’s recommendations to the public, the board and school staff, who attended via Zoom. Board member Mike Kaiser was not present.
The special board meeting was held in the district board room at 9 a.m. to declare the 2020-21 school year an emergency situation and discuss updating and adapting the Emergency Policy Series 1900. The declaration of an emergency situation was the same as what was done in March, according to Sundby. The declaration allows school staff and faculty the flexibility to move to online learning at any time. Moving forward with the declaration, the policy updates and adaptations by approving the schedule before the board also secured the school’s federal funding.
Page moved and Fast seconded the motion to declare the upcoming school year an emergency situation. The motion passed unanimously. The board then proceeded through the updates and adaptations recommended by the policy committee on the Emergency Policy 1900 series.
Under the updates/adaptations the alternative grading section, 1902, was updated to reflect a move away from the Good/Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory or Pass/Fail systems, adopted at the end of last school year, to a letter grade system for grades two up through senior. Section 1903F was updated regarding event facility notice and expectations for events held on school property.
Section 1905 was updated to reflect current information on known symptoms of illness and guidelines for parents, caretakers and guardians regarding physical distancing as well as drop-off and pick-up times. Sundby indicated that he would provide more details as the principals of each school put out details specific to their needs and considerations.
Also adapted in Section 1905 was the requirement of masks as personal protective equipment. As schools across the country have reopened and faced COVID-19 outbreaks, a press release from Sundby stated, “Glasgow School District will require masks for the safety of our students and staff K-12.” He did take care to point out that there will be opportunities and times for students to go without masks when safety and social distancing can be attained. Schools will conduct temperature screenings at every building. Any student registering a temperature of 100.4 or above will be set aside for evaluation. If necessary, parents or guardians will be called to pick up their child.
“We’re going to need a lot of help from parents,” Sundby stressed. “If a kid has a temperature, keep them home.” The schools will work to mitigate the spread, including cleaning and disinfecting as well as having hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations.
Section 1908 was updated regarding family engagement. The revamped policy allows for families to opt-out of in-classroom learning and move to remote learning. A recent directive from Governor Steve Bullock allowed schools more flexibility in offering remote learning without endangering their funding. A document is available on the school website for families to fill out should they choose remote learning. However, any student who selects remote learning will be barred from participating in any extracurricular activities.
Families will retain the right to opt-out throughout the school year should infection rates change or in-class learning becomes an issue. Any student who opts out would be required to finish out the semester via distance learning and would not be allowed to return to the classroom. Sundby encourages any families who may have issues with internet connectivity to contact the school who will work with Nemont to help the families if they are able.
Section 1912 was updated to give the school the option to reschedule school elections if necessary. Sundby said he did not anticipate any issues with elections as the previous election was held without issue, but requested the change now so that the option was available and did not need to be revisited later.
All policy changes are on the school website, in the board packet, available at glasgow.k12.mt.us.
White moved to update and adapt the policies as presented, seconded by Page. The motion was opened to public questions and comments. Concerned parent Jolene Cotton asked questions regarding what threshold of sick students would need to be reached before a school was closed and whether allowable absences would be increased if a student became sick.
Sundby said while the schools will have plans in place, such as closing a classroom or a pod for a period of time and moving to remote learning, this school year with coronavirus has created an “ever-changing, ever-dynamic situation.” He assured parents that while the school will have tentative plans in place, any plan that is implemented will be done in conjunction with recommendations from the Valley County Health Department and Dr. Anne Millard. He stressed that he and the faculty want to minimize any time away from the schools as much as possible. White reiterated that any incidents of a positive test of COVID-19 would be taken case-by-case. Tami Thompson read a list of handwritten questions and concerns which she left with the board for their consideration.
After the comments and questions, the board voted unanimously to update and adopt the Emergency Policy Series 1900.
The board then moved on to the district reopening proposal. A four-day school week, to run Monday through Thursday, was proposed with Friday being a day of help for non-proficient students and for students looking for more help. Limiting in-person classes to four days a week also allows for extra cleaning time for school staff.
The bottom line for Sundby, faculty and staff is, according to Sundby, “We want this flexible for staff and students. We want to make this school year the best school year we can given the situation.”
After questions and discussion, the board again voted unanimously to move forward with reopening the Glasgow schools. Sundby asked that everyone go into the school year with an open and flexible mind, while also modeling a positive attitude for students and children.
The first day of school will proceed as previously planned on Wednesday, Aug. 26.