First, let me thank you for your support and understanding as we, as a school and community, responded to the unexpected rise of COVID. I am very proud of the way our Discovery Academy students, parents, employees, and community leaders handled the demands we were faced with to protect everyone as we continued to educate and feed our students during the most unusual of circumstances. As you know, there continues to be concerns and questions related to how schools plan to reopen for the 21-22 school year. While we are in the business of educating, our first priority is the health and safety of our students and our employees.
Due to all the factors and information needed to plan as the new COVID variant unfolds, we must be proactive and be prepared during these ever-changing times to continue educating our students if and when circumstances change, as predicted, throughout the year related to the health and safety of our students and employees.
We are gathering input from parents, employees, community stakeholders, administrators, state leaders, and medical professionals. Our school administrators and teachers have been planning for increased safety procedures that can be taken in and around the school campus. We are working on three scenarios. We will begin the current school year following the Enhanced Traditional Plan.
- Enhanced Traditional Plan– We would continue school as normal with enhanced safety precautions in place such as increased hand sanitizer availability, increased frequency of cleaning of high touch areas, limited visitation to campuses, etc., in order to possibly prevent the transition to a hybrid or full distance learning option. All students, staff and parents are required to wear masks when they are on the school campus. This procedure will take effect on Tuesday, September 7th and remain in place until further notice. We also ask that parents do not enter the building at any time unless they have a scheduled appointment (this includes the first day of school).
- Social Distancing/Hybrid Plan- Hybrid would be a combination of distance and face-to-face instruction with increased safety and disinfecting measures as listed above, which could be done in a variety of configurations. Additional technology has been purchased to ensure that students will have devices to take home should they be deemed necessary.
- Full Distance Learning Plan– All students would participate in the learning of new material, continued standard pacing, interactive lessons, graded assignments, and assessments. This would be enacted if the schools again due to health concerns. (If we have outbreaks of COVID-19 in specific classrooms, we may enact individual classroom closures instead of school-wide closures.)
I encourage our parents to frequently visit our webpage and follow our social media for up to date and accurate information. Everyone must understand there is no way for us to please all as we make these decisions. Our priority is to keep everyone safe while not making life more difficult for our parents. Each family situation is uniquely different. We fully understand your varied concerns about health and safety, distance learning, the importance of face-to-face instruction, parents needing to work, the economy, and all of the other unexpected consequences of not being in school or being in school in a traditional method. If for some reason, we can’t be in a traditional school situation, our goal is to find the best way to have our students safely in our buildings as frequently as possible to ensure the health and well-being of all.
As we move forward, we are also taking into consideration that we may have medically compromised students. Parents of students with a higher risk of severe illness can contact school administration, if needed. For those students who cannot wear a mask because of a medical situation, please provide the school with the appropriate documentation from your child’s physician.
We appreciate your support as we all continue to ensure the safest possible learning environment for our students and school community. If you have any direct questions, please feel free to contact me directly at 406-580-9982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Poloff, M.Ed.
Head of Schools
Big Sky Discovery Academy