HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – The Havre Public School Board held a special board meeting on Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on reopening.
Nine members of the public provided comment. Five spoke in favor of moving to a full reopening, three spoke against, and one said they would like more information and a detailed plan from the District on what reopening would look like.
Superintendent Craig Mueller said that as a result of the positive COVID-19 case discovered in a student at Sunnyside Elementary on Sunday evening, 21 students and two staff members are now in quarantine.
Mueller said the Health Department was complimentary of the District and their staff for making contact tracing possible with their seating charts and other precautions that were in place.
Mueller said he spoke with Dr. Kevin Harada of Northern Montana Hospital, who told him that Hill County is currently in a worse place than when the District initially approved the hybrid reopening plan. The current COVID-19 positive test rate in the County is 13.7 percent, and they have seen consistent presence of COVID-19 patients recently in the hospital. NMH has adequate testing supplies and some remdesivir on hand for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Potential Phase 3 Reopening
During the Board meeting, Mueller brought up two potential plans to move to Phase 3 of reopening.
Option 3A would be to move to four days a week of in-class learning, with virtual learning on Fridays. Start and end times of the school day and transition times between class periods would be altered to try and allow for social distancing.
Option 3B would be nearly identical to Option 3A, but with students attending in-person five days a week.
“In the event that we bring more children back, or even possibly all children back, social distancing will be next to impossible,” Mueller said. “In particular, we looked at the buildings at Lincoln-McKinley. We know at Highland Park that presents challenges as well. An effort by both the Middle School and High School to look at their transition times will be necessary so that you don’t have 400 or 500 students in the hallways at any one time. Potentially turning the direction of the hallways into one way hallways was one way to limit that contact between different students during the course of the day.”
If the District moves forward with a Phase 3 reopening, some students may lose bus service in order to make sure the busses are able to maintain social distancing.
“Determinations will have to be made for some routes that are currently serving more riders as to who will retain bus service and who may no longer receive bus service,” Mueller said. “The number of bus riders would be cut in half from Phase 2B.”
These plans will be taken to the Health Department to be reviewed, after which the Board could decide to vote to approve one of the options.
This could either be done at the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting on October 13th, or at a Special Board meeting before then.
The public will be notified if a Special Meeting is called. Students and staff would have two weeks from the approval of a Phase 3 plan to prepare before it would take effect.
In addition, students would likely be able to either opt back in or opt-out of in-person learning.
If a Phase 3 reopening is not approved, the District would remain in Phase 2B until further notice.
Rocky Boy Food Service
Before the meeting concluded, District Clerk and Food Service Administrator Shanna Flores notified the Board that the entire Rocky Boy School District Food Service staff is in quarantine. As a result, Havre and other neighboring districts are lending a helping hand to make sure Rocky Boy is able to provide their students with lunches. Rocky Boy remains in fully remote learning.