Community Letter: The goal of this proposal is multi-faceted; alleviate the current spread and contact of the COVID virus  by reducing potential contact frequency and allowing for social distancing...

17 H & 1 Logo

Dear Hardin School District 17H & 1 Students, Families, Staff and Community Members, 

Again…greetings from the District Office at Hardin School Districts 17H & 1. As we near the end of  our first week of remote learning for students throughout our communities, we have had time to reflect on the first two months of school, as well as the current trends that have created the situation in which  our students, parents and staff are experiencing.  

I feel quite humbled and very appreciative by the preparation and dedication of our staff to not only  have our students prepared for the two weeks of remote learning, but also their vision in moving  forward beyond this point. We were given the summer months to prepare for the start of school this  past August and now we have been provided a much narrower window to reevaluate our entire  system in hopes of finishing the 2020-21 school year with our proposed return to onsite instruction as  outlined below.  

The goal of this proposal is multi-faceted; alleviate the current spread and contact of the COVID virus  by reducing potential contact frequency and allowing for social distancing, to ensure we keep our  youngest/most influential students onsite as often as possible and to create a model that will endure  the remainder of the year, regardless the number of students enrolled at any one time. 

Current Proposal: 

Fort Smith, KRC, Crow Agency, Primary and Intermediate will return in the following manner: o The model created back in August will remain in place for our elementary (K-5) schools, much  in the same format as the past two months.  

o An alternating or hybrid schedule simply does not allow these students the educational  foundations necessary for good learning habits and positive instructional relationships.  It is our stance that K-5 instruction is necessary Monday through Thursday with Fridays  as support and remote instruction.  

o We are currently looking at “return to school metrics” based on the number of staff able to  support this method of instruction. Though this standard is still under consideration, it will be  available by the Board meeting next Tuesday evening. 

o Once a school can meet the return to onsite instruction requirement that particular K-5 school  will reopen no earlier than November 16, 2020…otherwise it will remain remote until the  standard is in compliance. 

o This model does create some challenges in social distancing and the 15-minute close contact  protocol as recently stated by the CDC. The concern being that if a staff member or student is  positive, it will most likely result in a complete class quarantine for the two-week period. 

Middle and High School will return in the following manner: 

o We are currently looking at “return to school metrics” based on the number of staff able to  support this method of instruction. Though this standard is still under consideration, it will be  available by the Board meeting next Tuesday evening. 

o Once the Middle School and/or High School can meet the return to onsite instruction  requirements that particular school will reopen no earlier than November 18, 2020…otherwise  it will remain remote until the standard is in compliance. (PLEASE NOTE THE DATE  EXTENSION) 

o Both schools are working closely together now to develop a new model of instruction that will  allow for better social distancing and fewer potential quarantines throughout the 7-period day.  This model now returns to our original discussion back in July…as we will need to move to a  hybrid model in order to safely educate our students onsite. In reviewing our numbers from this  past summer, both of these schools were below the 50% onsite attendance target in order to  offer the model of taking a choice…onsite OR remote. These numbers have changed  dramatically over the past two months, middle school onsite instruction is nearly pushing 300+  students putting the percentage nearer 75% and high school onsite is nearly 300+ increasing  the percentage to 65%. These numbers, especially in the middle school, do NOT allow us to  continue to safely social distance as we have the past two months.  

o The middle school model will reflect an ABABF scenario where half the students will attend  onsite Mondays/Wednesdays and remotely Tuesdays/Thursdays, then vice versa for the other  half of the students. Fridays will continue to look the same as they have in the past. 

o The high school will operate as they did before our remote session, but will be prepared for the  ABABF schedule if numbers increase significantly by the holiday season or the start of the  second semester. 

Other Items of Note: 

- Though this change in the Middle and High Schools will be dramatic, it is a necessary change  in order to safely support our community, students and staff. This change will allow us to keep  the model in place hopefully the remainder of the year to create fewer disruptions. 

- Our goal is to NOT create hardships for families, but to serve all of our students within the  capacities and guidelines throughout this crisis. 

- School nutrition will continue to serve meals throughout the District much in the same manner  as last spring and this past summer. More information will follow! 

- This proposal will be discussed at next Tuesday’s Board meeting starting at approximately  6:00 p.m. for the public. ZOOM invite information will be provided next Monday on our website. 

Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and website at https://www.hardin.k12.mt.us/ for all the up to-date information. You can also email help@hardin.k12.mt.us, thank you. 

Respectfully,  

Eldon C. Johnson, Supt 

Hardin School District 17H & 1