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'It's been a learning cycle:' Bozeman superintendent looks ahead to upcoming decision on in-person learning days

Posted at 2:15 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 16:15:57-04

In just a few days, the Bozeman school board will sit down to put a final pin in a decision: What days will students and parents expect schools to go back to five days of in-person learning?

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It’s been one of the main concerns for the Bozeman School District since the beginning, rising COVID-19 numbers, another surge, and COVID finding its way into the schools.

Connors says that the decision ahead, big or small, will be a difficult one.

"It’s been a learning process for everybody,” Connor says.

From switching to remote-learning in the early days of COVID-19 to swapping that for the blended model now.

“It’s just been a constant learning cycle of putting out little brush fires and trying to make sure that we learn from our mistakes and grow from those mistakes,” Connors says.

Including during the latest surge, COVID-19, in Gallatin High School, for one.

Connors says that shows part of a reality that could happen, going back to remote learning.

“It’s going to happen,” Connors says. “We’re going to have people that are getting sick. We are going to...we have kids that are sick now. We’ve had to quarantine our freshman and sophomore volleyball team at Gallatin High and so now with the numbers increase, it just increases the possibility and probability of that happening. It’s going to be a reality.”

Unless the metrics aren’t met for that to happen.

Connors says he and the board have to watch all 12 schools in the district, namely when it comes to available staffing.

“The idea is to open up PK-5 on November 2, but that doesn’t mean if we don’t have the adult capacity in some of those schools, it might not open across the district,” Connors says.

That includes subs, para-educators.

Also, if there are enough beds available in the hospital.

Bottom line: there’s a lot on the table to take into account and Connors says despite the surge, the plan is on track.

“The recommendation in August was to start out in the blended model and that’s where we are at,” Connors says. “My heart feels good where we are at here in Bozeman because we do have such great people in education that are taking care of your kids and realize that we do have the best interests of the kids at heart and we want to make sure we give them the best education in the safest manner possible.”

And at that meeting, specific days could be decided on.

“K-5 would be Nov. 2,” Connors says. “Our middle school, Nov. 23, and then the end of the semester, Jan. 25, for the high school.”

Connors says we just have to get to them first.

“We have the whole spectrum here in Bozeman,” Connors says. “I try to understand all of their viewpoints and that’s probably the thing, is to try to unify that front and then make sure that we aren’t divisive because we are different ideas.”

The next school board meeting will be this Monday and it will be virtual.