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Central and St. Francis prepare for full schools, also offer online classes

Posted at 8:16 PM, Aug 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 13:45:20-04

The Billings Catholic schools prepare to reopen under phase 2 COVID-19 guidance.

St. Francis Catholic School and Billings Central Catholic High School will offer remote learning and in-person learning.

Students and parents are ready to start at St. Francis.

"He is missing his friends," said Jenn Beckwith, a St. Francis parent. "Definitely would love to get back to school. Missing the teachers. Missing everybody. It's been like a family for him."

Beckwith has seen some of recommendations and wants her fifth grade son to be with his classmates and teachers.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has some recommendations on its website titled "The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall."

It states in part: "The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children. Extended school closure is harmful to children."

"And a lot of the pediatrician groups have said it's important to mentally and emotionally come back," said Beckwith.

St. Francis has about 600 at St. Francis and Central has about 325.

Billings Catholic Schools is expecting and preparing for the possibility of nearly all students returning.

"The vast majority are supportive of school starting," said Shaun Harrington, Billings Catholic Schools President. "We've made them aware of a lot of the plans that we've made. So they felt comfortable with their kids coming back."

Harrington said the Billings Catholic Schools has taken direction from the the Yellowstone County Health Office, the Office of Public Instruction plan, the Governor’s plan and the CDC.

"We're trying to get them as spaced as we can and then we're asking that all students be faced forward because we've been advised that's a safer position," Harrington said. "We've been in contact with Sarpy and have plans in place for sanitizing the buses. We've purchased electrostatic sprayers for our buildings that we would share with our transportation department."

Sports and music will also be part of school this year.

"I love sports and like being at school but it's amazing how much you miss it when you don't have it," said incoming sophomore Garrett Button, who plays soccer and basketball.

"Band room has a huge space so we're looking at making a grid system and teaching in a big square or big circle," said Brandon Martinez, Central music teacher.

"I trust that they will do what is best for the kids," Beckwith said.

"It will be a real celebration to have kids and faculties back in," Harrington said.

Harrington said achievement scores showed the use of Ipads last school year was successful.

He is confident that online learning will work well for students who choose that route.

He does expect nearly all the teachers and staff to return.