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September 19, 2021
Ron Whitmoyer

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and challenge us in our planning for the 2020-21 school year.  As of last evening the Governor has made a new order that indoor public places require the wearing of a mask to be in the building.  If the Governor’s mandate is still in effect when we return to school on August 26, 2020, we will be requiring students and staff to wear face masks while at school and on school buses. 

We wanted to take a quick break from this beautiful Montana summer to remind parents of our planning for the 2020-21 school year.  Of course, as this dynamic situation unfolds, all plans are subject to change, but as of the date of this letter, all students are invited to attend school as scheduled this fall.  We will offer remote learning for students that have medical and family reasons for not being in attendance.  With few exceptions, school attendance is in the best interest of student learning.  COVID-19 considerations will require some significant changes to the school day.  Buses will run their routes, but we have to limit the number of riders on buses.   The need to limit the mixing and exposure of students as much as possible will require us to eliminate the shuttle bus service that we have offered in the past.  Only route specific students will be allowed on buses before and after school, and will be assigned to one family group to a seat.   Brothers and sisters will be asked to sit in the same seat with each other but all others will have to sit one to a seat.  We are aware that some families depended on shuttle buses, so we are glad that there are now sidewalks or a very well maintained trail between ALL of the East Helena Schools.  Students can walk on a sidewalk from any school to another safely.  

As we fine tune our plan, here are some other planning ideas for parents to be considering in minimizing risk of exposure for our students and staff: 

  • Parents should assess their child’s health and wellness each day prior to sending children to school and have them wash their hands,
  • Teachers will ask wellness questions and check temperatures each day before starting class,
  • If a child becomes ill at school, he or she will need to be picked up right away,
  • Students will be asked to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands frequently throughout the day,
  • There will likely be pick up and drop off locations assigned by class or grade at each school,
  • Pick up and drop off time windows will be narrower than in the past – expect 15 minutes before and after school as the appropriate window for drop off and pick up,
  • Before or after school tutoring/enrichment classes cannot be offered until the rate of spread and active infection in our area has declined significantly,
  • Middle school and high school students should expect a block schedule that reduces the number of classes and transitions during the day,
  • Due to restrictions on cafeteria usage, most, if not all students will be eating lunch in classrooms,
  • Some classes, such as PE and band/choir may look radically different than in years past,
  • We will be following MHSA and County health guidelines regarding sporting events, travel, and spectators.

Certainly this has many challenges, but you are accustomed to the school district erring on the side of caution for the sake of our students. 

It’s with much sadness that Principal Jill Miller has decided to move on and pursue other interests.  She was heartbroken to leave the children and the community that she had served for more than 20 years.  

We are excited to introduce to you our new Eastgate and Prickly Pear Principal, Brandon Crusat.  Brandon comes to us from Idaho where he served as a distinguished principal in a larger school district.  He is very excited to bring his years of experience as a principal to this great community and our amazing kids.

Thanks for your assistance in making this new school year a success for ALL students.