Tuesday, January 12, 2021

OPTION FOR OPTING OUT OF ONSITE INSTRUCTION FOR SECOND SEMESTER 2021

 by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski


Policy 1908 Family Engagement indicates that students of families opting out of onsite instruction at the school facility for the Second Semester of 2020-2021 school fiscal year shall receive offsite, online instruction, or any combination of the foregoing at the discretion of the School District in accordance with District Emergency Policy 1906. School District staff shall arrange for any combination of physical instructional packets, virtual or electronic based course meetings and assignments, self-directed or parent/guardian-assisted learning opportunities, and other educational efforts available to staff and students that can be relied upon for grade or credit in order to satisfy the minimum aggregate number of hours or determination of proficiency for the requesting student.

 

Students of families opting out of onsite delivery shall be treated the same as students instructed at the school facility for purposes of grading, discipline, and other educational rights.

The Second Semester begins January 18, 2021. The District asks parents/guardians and students to make “Opt-Out” or “Face-to-Face” instruction decisions by completing the 1908F Opt-Out Form by January 15, 2021 by 4:00 PM so class schedules can be adjusted. “Opt-Out” Forms are available on-line or at each building. They must be signed and submitted to the District Office for processing. You may scan the forms and email them to kris.mcmanus@colstrip.k12.mt.us, or send them to:

  •  Colstrip Public Schools

  •  P.O. Box 159

  • Colstrip, MT 59323

Materials such as chromebooks, consumables and course guidelines will be made available as soon as possible.  The Curriculum Director and/or Instructional Facilitator(s) will be in touch with you to outline grade and/or course processes, programs and protocols to begin initial instruction. They will also work with you in obtaining needed materials, computer logon, training necessary to complete course/grade work.  Grade and Course instruction will begin within ten (10) days of your completed application of 1908F Onsite Instruction Opt Out (During this time your student will be matriculated and provided needed materials and initial instruction for completing necessary paperwork as well as login information for Google Classroom). 

 

 

PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR THE  OPT OUT OF ONSITE INSTRUCTION FORM.



Thursday, November 5, 2020

Staying Safe and Healthy During Difficult Times

 by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Let me start off by saying that I hope you and your families are staying safe during this difficult and trying time. The health and safety of students, educators, and staff is Colstrip Public School’s top priority. It seems as though we have been hit very hard by a number of quarantines in the last 30 days. Point of fact, the District Office count is over 125 individuals with COVID related absences since October 5, 2020. 

With the number of students and staff members that have been quarantined, I am sharing the way isolations and quarantines are counted by the County Health Department to ease frustrations and aid in everyone’s understanding.

 

ISOLATION: An Order of Isolation is due to a positive COVID test result. The isolation period is TEN (10) days for a person who has tested positive for COVID.  The isolation period starts with a day ZERO (0) from the date of first symptoms. The isolated individuals are able to return to normal activities after TEN (10) days. NOTE: Once identified as a positive, there is a NINETY (90) day period (including isolation) in which exempts the individual from being quarantined because they have developed an immunity to the virus that last approximately ninety days.

 

QUARANTINE: An Order of Quarantine is due to close contact with an individual that tested positive within the first TEN (10) days of symptoms. The quarantine period starts with a day ZERO (0) from the date of close contact . The quarantined individuals are able to return to normal activities after FOURTEEN (14) days. See the CDC link for details on When to Quarantine. You can also review the Science of the 14 Day Quarantine to better understand the quarantine period. 

 

Sharing this information is important so that our community understands why some individuals are able to return to normal activities sooner than others. 


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

COVID Isolation and Quarantine

 by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

SUPERINTENDENT NOTICE: The District would like to thank all of the parents, community members, teachers and staff that have been diligent in staying home when they have symptoms of COVID. Taking immediate action when symptoms arise provides the best possible way to limit COVID exposure to others. Oftentimes it takes several days for the County Health Department to get information from its medical sources in order to take actions to isolate individuals that have tested positive for COVID. After isolation has taken place, the County Health works with the School District to gather contact tracing information so appropriate individuals can be quarantined to limit possible exposure. 

 

Most times the School District has been very fortunate to have parents come forward and share information about a family member’s positive test results. This allows the District to take immediate action and notify County Health so they can begin the quarantine process. County Health communicates quarantine measures and timelines to those who have been identified as a COVID contact. The School District works closely with County Health in the identification process.

 

The identification of COVID contacts is only as good as the honesty provided by those whom County Health interviews. There have been situations where individuals have said they only have had limited contact with an identified positive case, only to have County Health or the School District find out through other sources that there was significant contact. At that point, County Health still quarantines the individual, but in the meantime, limited exposure has been circumvented by a lack of truth. 

 

No one wants to be quarantined. No one wants to get sick. Everyone expects consistency and continuity in our decision-making processes, especially at our school and governmental institutions. Here at Colstrip Public Schools we are doing our best to identify and follow through with COVID procedures shared with us by the County Health Department. If you have maintained social distance and wear a mask, then your chances of avoiding a quarantine greatly improve; however, there are other factors of time and space that are taken into consideration by County Health. The County Health Department has the final say. Investigations are a process; as information is collected, decisions may be adjusted to limit student and staff’s exposure.   

 

I believe that the Rosebud County Health Department is doing their very best to investigate and to mitigate COVID exposure through isolations and quarantines. I know how difficult it is to call people and give them bad news. Some people are very graceful and some aren’t. County Health has a tough job during these pandemic times and Colstrip Public Schools is doing our best to be accurate and supportive. If we don’t get a decision right, we will make the needed corrections. This is a learning process. Please bless us with your grace. Let’s all be as honest and forthright as possible to limit COVID exposure. 

 

 


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Back to School Reopening Plan

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

At the August 10, 2020 the Colstrip Board of Trustees approve the following reopening plan: Colstrip Public Schools Reopening Plan for 2020-2021.  The components of this plan will remain flexible and adaptable to the potential changes in the phases and levels of concern for individual and public health. Therefore, this document will be dynamic and updated regularly as new information becomes available and/ or additional requirements are requested of the School District.

 

PLAN DEVELOPMENT

COVID-19 continues to affect nearly every aspect of how our families, businesses, and schools go about their daily work. Colstrip Public School District has been working on gathering the needed supplies and equipment to develop a plan for how our schools can provide a safe and secure setting for students to learn since last spring. The enclosed plan builds upon all that we learned last spring when, with your help, our teachers and students quickly moved to remote instruction.

The School Board of Trustees has diligently developed Emergency Policies that protect our students, staff, community and pecuniary interests meeting state mandates for extended funding and support. These 1900 Policies are:

Emergency School District Policies

·       Policy 1900 Emergency Policy Framework

·       Policy 1901 School District Policy and Procedures

·       Policy 1903 School District Meetings and Gatherings

·       Policy 1905 Student, Staff and Community Health and Safety

·       Policy 1906 Student Instruction

·       Policy 1907 School District Declaration of Emergency

Colstrip Public School District serves students with transparency and accountability to ensure as many people as possible have a voice in the school's operations. We sent out a Reopening School Survey to Parents and Staff alike on July 27, 2020. 

There were 360 invitations sent out to parents/guardians of our school district. The email addresses were generated from District Infinite Campus records. Of the 360 invitations there were 261 responses. There were 11 questions. Below are the specific COVID-19 responses:

  • How concerned are you with COVID-19 in our community? (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 = not concerned, 10 = very concerned).
    •  Average response was 5.25. The Task Force committee noted that most of the responses were polarized; with either a very low concern or very high. 
  • Assuming there is no vaccine available in the fall, but schools reopen following the guidance of the CDC, Office of Public Instruction and the Rosebud County Health Department, how would you prefer students to participate?
    •  Top three responses
      • 41% School everyday
      • 30% Hybrid or blended program (remote delivery and at school). Being in school part-time (2-3 days per week) with blended on-line learning.
      • 13% 100% Remote learning program
  • What factors would help you feel more comfortable in allowing your child to return to on-site learning? 
    • Top responses
      • 77% Classrooms and other gathering places cleaned and sanitized daily.
      • 71% Sanitizing supplies, including hand sanitizers readily available.
      • 52% Mandatory symptom checks required for every student before entering the building.
      • 51% Mandatory symptom checks of employees required before entering their classroom/workplace.
      • 46% Restricting visitors and volunteers from entering the schools during the instructional day.
  • What are your primary concerns about coming back to your school?
    • Top responses
      • 56% Classrooms and other student gathering places not properly disinfected.
      • 40% Student/Staff underlying health concerns.
      • 35% Public health regulations not being followed.
      • 33% Availability of PPE or personal protective equipment (mask, shields and disinfectant cleaner).

There were 115 invitations sent out to all employees of our school district. Of the 115 invitations there were 84 responses. There were 16 questions. Below are the specific COVID-19 responses were:

  • If we are able to have schools open in the fall, do you intend to come back to work?
    • Responses
      • 85% Yes
      • 13% Uncertain
      • 2% I will likely request other accommodations for health reasons
  • How concerned are you with COVID-19 in our community? (on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 = not concerned, 10 = very concerned).
    •  Average response was 4.9
  • Assuming there is no vaccine available in the fall, but schools reopen following the guidance of the CDC, Office of Public Instruction and the Rosebud County Health Department, how would you prefer students to participate?
    •  Top three responses
      • 56% School everyday
      • 14% Hybrid or blended program (remote delivery and at school). Being in school part-time (2-3 days per week) with blended on-line learning.
      • 10% Partial school day to allow for fewer students in the classroom
  • What factors would help you feel more comfortable? 
    • Top responses
      • 85% Sanitizing supplies, including hand sanitizers readily available.
      • 82% Classrooms and other gathering places cleaned and sanitized daily.
      • 57% Mandatory symptom checks required for every student before entering the building.
      • 55% Restricting visitors and volunteers from entering the schools during the instructional day.
      • 51% Mandatory symptom checks of employees required before entering their classroom/workplace.
  • What are your primary concerns about coming back to your school?
    • Top responses
      • 68% Classrooms and other student gathering places not properly disinfected.
      • 44% Public health regulations not being followed.
      • 42% Student/Staff underlying health concerns.
      • 40% Student Transportation (e.g. school bus, etc.)
      • 38% Availability of PPE or personal protective equipment (mask, shields and disinfectant cleaner).

A COVID-19 Task Force made up of 28 individuals: board members, administrators, teachers, staff members, food service, technology, custodians, counselors and out of district services, met on August 3rd and 4th.  They reviewed the survey results to develop a plan for reopening schools. The plan takes into account the top responses by both staff and parents/guardians. 

This dialogue between school leaders and citizens has helped make sure our students learn in a manner that reflects the circumstances in our community.  Our goal to resume instruction and operations at our schools relies on the following priorities: a healthy and safe setting for students, staff, and the community; helpful support of teachers and staff; and responsible financial and operational procedures. We intend to meet this goal by upholding these priorities.

This plan is the work of the board of trustees, administrative team, employees, parents, students, state and local health officials all collaborating to identify how instruction will be delivered to students; how gatherings and events will take place on school property if and when appropriate; how the health and safety of staff and students will be protected and preserved while schools are open; and how financial and operational functions of the school district will continue during this public health emergency. School leaders and the COVID-19 Task Force have considered available options and perspectives to make decisions that reflect the circumstances in our community.

 

By listening to these voices, we have implemented measures throughout the District to promote a safe and healthy setting for learning, teaching, and working. Our District's plan relies on the practical application of scientific information to transform instruction, cleaning and disinfecting, transportation, food services, and activities. The District has implemented physical distancing by reconfiguring classrooms and gathering spaces, developed school arrival and departure procedures including temperature checks; installed sanitizing stations, hygiene signs, barriers and other measures to assist with individual protection; and purchased material and supplies to implement all aspects of the plan.  Further, the District requires students, staff, and teachers to wear a mask during transportation and while working in close proximity with other individuals and in common areas while passing or gatherings larger than 50. 

 

We are confident these and other proactive measures outlined in the plan will meet our shared goal of returning to face-to-face instruction. While it is not our intention to revert to instruction away from the schools, the School District understands that even with our best prevention efforts, it is possible that there may be an outbreak of this highly contagious virus in our community. To prepare for this possibility, the District has a dynamic remote instruction program and continues to seek ways to improve access to students in the event the schools are required to close for any period of time. This program will also be available to students during a period of instruction in the school if a family needs remote instruction accommodation. If you would like more information about how to request opt-out of on-site instruction, please contact the school office for appropriate forms. 

 

Our School District is innovative, agile, and ready to get back to school. We've worked to think of as many solutions as possible to make sure the students can come back to their classrooms, work with their teachers, and enjoy their friends. If there is something you think we have missed or if you have questions, please let us know by sending me an email to bob.lewandowski@colstrip.k12.mt.us. Our School District remains committed to maintaining timely and relevant communications with staff, families and the community as this new school year begins. With your help, your students' enthusiasm, and our staff’s leadership, we'll meet this challenge and have a successful school year.

 

 

 

OPTION FOR OPTING OUT OF ONSITE INSTRUCTION

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Policy 1908 Family Engagement indicates that students of families opting out of onsite instruction at the school facility for the first semester of 2020-2021 school fiscal year shall receive offsite, online instruction, or any combination of the foregoing at the discretion of the School District in accordance with District Policy 1906. School District staff shall arrange for any combination of physical instructional packets, virtual or electronic based course meetings and assignments, self-directed or parent/guardian-assisted learning opportunities, and other educational efforts available to staff and students that can be relied upon for grade or credit in order to satisfy the minimum aggregate number of hours or determination of proficiency for the requesting student. Students determined to be proficient in one or more courses of the district shall be incorporated in the School District’s calculation of ANB, with such ANB fraction to be converted to an hourly equivalent based on the hours of instruction ordinarily provided for the content over which the student has demonstrated proficiency. 



Students of families opting out of onsite delivery shall be treated the same as students instructed at the school facility for purposes of grading, discipline, and other educational rights.

The District asks parents/guardians and students to make “Opt-Out” or “Face-to-Face” instruction decisions by completing the 1908F Opt-Out Form by August 28, 2020 by 4:00 PM so class schedules can be adjusted. “Opt-Out” Forms are available on-line or at each building. They must be signed and submitted to the District Office for processing. You may scan the forms and email them to kris.mcmanus@colstrip.k12.mt.us, or send them to:

§  Colstrip Public Schools

§  P.O. Box 159

§  Colstrip, MT 59323

Materials such as chromebooks, consumables and course guidelines will be made available as soon as possible.  The Curriculum Director and/or Instructional Facilitator(s) will be in touch with you to outline grade and/or course processes, programs and protocols to begin initial instruction. They will also work with you in obtaining needed materials, computer logon, training necessary to complete course/grade work.  Grade and Course instruction will begin after Labor Day or within ten (10) days of your completed application of 1908F Onsite Instruction Opt Out (During this time your student will be matriculated and provided needed start up materials and initial instruction for completing necessary paperwork and log in information for Google Classroom). 



PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK FOR THE  OPT OUT OF ONSITE INSTRUCTION FORM.

 

Monday, July 6, 2020

Back to School: Everything Is Subject to Change

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

With the first day of school a little more than a month and a half away (August 20, 2020) there have been a number of questions concerning what school might look like and how it will accommodate for the impact of COVID-19. The answer is very dynamic and will change and grow as the impact of COVID-19 changes.

Montana is a "local control" state. The best and final public decision are made by the school district administration, local school boards and community stakeholders who know and understand the unique needs of their local community. At this time the District is preparing for multiple scenarios. We are not sure what restrictions may exist come August.

On August 3, 2020 the District will begin to finalize a proposal for the August 10, 2020 Regular Board Meeting. At that time, the District will set forth a process for reopening school. After talking with other superintendents here in the South Eastern part of Montana, they too are hesitant to develop a scenario for school due to the ever changing status of the pandemic. 

As to what the scenarios might look like, Elsie Arntzen, the Montana Superintendent of Instruction, put together several committees to assist in developing K-12 public schools reopening guidelines. They have developed four scenarios.  Four scenarios are included as guidance examples. Following state directives, individual districts in consultation with local health authorities should determine which scenarios best fit their local situations.
  • Scenario 1: Buildings Closed: All students remote learning.
  • Scenario 2: A limited number of students present in school building, with remote learning occurring for students who are off-site
  • Scenario 3: Increased capacity/number of students in the school building, limiting number of activities to allow for continued physical distancing, and continued remote learning for students who are off-site
  • Scenario 4: Near full capacity and full operations, continued vigilance in health and safety best practices, with remote learning for students who are off-site
The details for these scenarios are detailed in OPI's document called: Reopening Montana School Guidance. Here you can find out what schools might look like across Montana depending on the the status of COVID-19 as well as the directives from the Governor and Montana health agencies. You can find out more at the Montana COVID-19 Task Force website

As much as I would like to tell you what school will look like, there is no way to do that at this time; however, given the reopening guidelines provided by the Office of Public Instruction (OPI), it will give you and idea of the considerations that are being made. With that I want to share a disclaimer by the Montana Office of Public Instruction in regards to their published document. I believe it certainly captures the current status of educational planning:
*Disclaimer: Any information appearing in this document regarding COVID-19 is subject to change. This document is a guidance document composed by Montana education stakeholders. The guidance is dynamic and will change and grow as the impact of COVID-19 changes. This document is not a legal document or an exhaustive list of actions that will need to be considered. This document is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, requirements, or mandate. The information, samples, templates, tips, and techniques provided in this document are intended solely as examples of practices, do not impose, or imply legal or regulatory requirements, and may not apply to all situations based upon circumstances. This document does not substitute for any law, or regulations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other public health messages or guidance.

Like always, be safe, be healthy and be kind.

Have a SUPER day!

MAKE DUST COLTS AND FILLIES!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Calendar for 2020-2021 Approved by Board of Trustees

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

I hope this post finds everyone in good health and spirit. I want to share the 2020-2021 Calendar for the next school year that was selected by the Board of Trustees. It was approved at the regular board meeting on April 20, 2020. The CPS Calendar Survey indicated 79% of those surveyed selected this as their calendar choice for 2020-2021 school year. It is a different calendar than we have had in the past. 

I would like to thank all of the Calendar Committee Members for their hard work. This was a group effort that I think resulted in a product that will serve our community and students well.

Below are some of the details in the selection of the 2020-2021 Calendar

The 2020-2021 Calendar Committee first met on February 5, 2020 to develop two calendars that meet the minimum state requirements of 1080 hours of instruction as per Montana Code Annotated 20-1-301. The Committee looked at four different types of calendars overall, but the Committee felt the two calendars presented to the board were the most complete in providing for the overall needs of all stakeholders.  The Calendar Survey opened on April 10, 2020 and closed at noon on April 17, 2020.

The Calendar Committee developed two calendars for consideration and identified them with the following titles: BLACK or BASE CALENDAR and BLUE or PDW DAY CALENDAR
 
Each calendar met the minimum of 1080 hours as per 20-1-301:
  • 20-1-301. School fiscal year. (1) The school fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. At least the minimum aggregate hours defined in subsection (2) must be conducted during each school fiscal year, except that 1,050 aggregate hours of pupil instruction for graduating seniors may be sufficient.
         (2) The minimum aggregate hours required by grade are:
         (a) 360 hours for a half-time kindergarten program or 720 hours for a full-time kindergarten program, as provided in 20-7-117;
         (b) 720 hours for grades 1 through 3; and
         (c) 1,080 hours for grades 4 through 12.
         (3) For any elementary or high school district that fails to provide for at least the minimum aggregate hours, as listed in subsections (1) and (2), the superintendent of public instruction shall reduce the direct state aid for the district for that school year by two times an hourly rate, as calculated by the office of public instruction, for the aggregate hours missed.

       
The Board Selected Calendar for 2020-2021 was the PDW DAY CALENDAR for 2020-2021: (Current Thursday Early Outs for Staff Development are moved to Fridays and converted into 8 Staff PDW Fridays throughout the school year)

The Calendar length is 171 student contact days.  School begins on August 20 and ends on May 26. It has (8) Winter Break Days; (3) Spring Break Days. It has (139) Full Days; (24) Part Days which have been moved from Thursdays to Fridays; and (4) Half Days strategically placed to take advantage low attendance. There are (186) Professional Days and (7) Pupil Instructional Related Days and (8) Professional Development Work Days or "PDW" Days for teacher development, work and group planning. This Calendar requires a daily structured recess for the elementary to extend learning time while taking advantage of low attendance numbers on Friday afternoons by scheduling one hour early release for students to attend activities and weekend events without absence. 

The Survey Results Surveys were collected from the following:
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • District Website
WHEREAS: Linked are the disaggregated survey results: