10.01.2021 Parent Letter from Godfrey Saunders

Last Updated: 10/1/2021 10:54 PM

Parents,

I am writing to provide you with some information updates from the district.

COVID

  • Please check the district’s website for updated COVID information regarding infections, recommended quarantine numbers and actual quarantines. The concern here is that people who choose not to quarantine can be asymptomatic and increase the transmission of COVID. To date, however, we have only had one close contact test positive.
  • So far this week, we have 21 positive COVID cases and 55/161 close contacts quarantining.
  • At this time, the district is not able to require close contacts to quarantine. The county health department can create such an order, but has not yet done so.
  • Like last year, if the lack of substitutes creates an inability for us to operate, we will have to shut down in-person school for a short period of time. The shutdown would probably be two weeks in length.
  • Even though our staff infection rate is not very high, when absences due to infection are combined with regular absences the substitute issue becomes a problem.
  • After making personal phone calls to the individuals on our substitute list, we have learned that many are not subbing for numerous reasons, illness, scheduling conflicts, moved out of the area, COVID fears, pay, etc.
  • A number of you have written asking me to require masks in schools. Please know that this decision belongs with the trustees. The trustees are aware of the local, state and national trends around the COVID issue. They also keep track of the infection rates in the district and county. If they see something that we need to address, they will bring it forward.

Blue Ribbon School Award

  • Ridge View Elementary is our newest Blue Ribbon School. This is an amazing honor for our district, community and the hard work of some dedicated staff and students.
  • There are approximately 67,408 elementary schools in the United States. Each year only 425 get to experience this honor.  Only two schools in Montana received the award this year, Cascade and Ridge View. That is impressive. This marks the second Blue Ribbon School for the Belgrade School District in three years, which is rare for any district.

Special Board Meeting

  • The trustees met on 9/24/21 to discuss adopting two policies: Out of District Enrollment (plus procedures) and Series 1900 Policies. The Out of District Enrollment Policy gives the district the authority to control student enrollment in this area. The Series 1900 Policies enable the district to make necessary policy changes during an emergency or pandemic, such as how it will calculate its Average Number Belonging (ANB), which impacts the funding we get from the state based on student attendance.
  • The trustees adopted the Out of District Enrollment Policy, but asked that both sets of policies be brought back to them in October (at the next board meeting) with the recommended changes added.
  • You can view these policies and the meeting on our website.

SUBSTITUTE EMPLOYEES

  • Please spread the word that we are in need of substitutes (in all areas) to help us keep our doors open. Thanks

Overall

Please know that the trustees and I care deeply about the safety and welfare of our students and employees. The issue of whether to require masks or not has been a tough call for many districts, including ours. In fact, the friction around this issue is so bad that it has caused many trustees around the United States to resign their elected positions and administrators to abandon their careers. For us, the mask question is never far from our minds, day or night.

All that being said, some are in agreement with our current mask policy and some are not. However, I would like to commend each of you on your civility. You have voiced your concerns, frustrations and disagreements with professionalism and respect. Additionally, you have acknowledged your support in the same manner. I encourage you to continue your diligence, no matter where you land on this issue. We do listen to you and take your input seriously.

Thanks,

Godfrey Saunders