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23-24 Return to School Plan

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Belgrade Schools Back to School Plan 2023-2024
Revised Plan

Current Phase: 3

Our Model

The Belgrade Public Schools will reopen for the 2023 – 2024 school year using one primary model for instruction: In-Person. Distance Learning will be offered under certain circumstances, however. Please see the Distance Learning section of the plan for more information.


Our core purpose is to educate students to become responsible members of society. Our Values are:

  • Students are our priority
  • Community and families are our partners
  • High expectations and a commitment to excellence
  • Our community’s acceptance of diversity
  • Optimizing the highest levels of respect, responsibility and integrity for all
  • Learning and working in a safe environment

Commitment to Safety

Given today’s environment, learning and working in a safe environment is not just a value, but a goal. One positive side effect of the pandemic has been the emphasis on safety and cleaning. The following list includes some of the things that BSD 44 will continue doing, in its efforts to keep everyone safe:

  • Frequent hand washing will be encouraged.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in each classroom.
  • We will continue to monitor and evaluate our HVAC systems.
  • We will clean frequently-used spaces and equipment as resources allow.
  • Students will be asked to clean and sanitize their hands instead of the computers. Too much moisture is not good for technology.
  • We will continue to work our goal of one-to-one, so students don’t have to share technology.
  • We will continue our efforts to address the mental health of our students and employees.
  • If the COVID virus becomes an issue in the future, the trustees will decide if masks are optional or required for anyone on school district property. Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we will pay close attention to the local data to make sure the trustees have the information needed to make a sound decision on this issue.

Reopening our schools still presents us with many known and unknown challenges. What happens if the virus begins to have an adverse effect on young people? How do we deal with long term COVID issues? What is the best practice to help students recover what they may have lost over the past two years?

Lastly, COVID has not disappeared and this is probably not the final pandemic we will face as a school community. Our diligence, flexibility, teamwork, patience and courage enabled us to survive COVID. Those qualities will also enable us to deal with the aforementioned uncertainties.


Phased Response Plan

State or Local Health Directives


Safety and Health Precautions

Instruction and learning model
Phase 0 Remote instruction and learning
  • All school facilities are closed to the public

  • Remote food service

  • Full time remote learning

  • No student activities

  • No public rental of school facilities

Phase 1  

Restricted local or state operations

Limits on group size at 10-15, without social distancing, as per local or state order.

  • Health screening for students done at home.

  • Handwashing and steps to limit germ transmission are pro-actively taught and dedicated time throughout the day

  • Student groups will be kept together in static groups (when possible) for contact tracing and limiting germ transmission

  • Frequent sanitizing of surfaces and bathrooms

  • Face coverings will be determined by the school board.

  • No public visitors to schools

  • Blended Model of on-site (limited) and remote learning (primary)

  • Onsite instruction will be used on a limited basis to support students experiencing difficulty with remote learning.

  • Classes will be divided into two groups alphabetically, students with last names beginning A-L will attend Mondays and Tuesdays on-site and students with last names beginning M-Z will attend Wednesdays and Thursdays (keeping families together) and Fridays will be for student assistance and PD.

  • Families could choose 100% remote learning, but must supply their own technology, unless medically warranted.

  • No extra-curricular activities

  • All school facilities closed to public rental

  • No student or staff travel

Phase 2  

Modified local or state operations

Limits on group size at 50, without social distancing, as per local or state order

  • Health screening for students, done at home.

  • Handwashing and steps to limit germ transmission are pro-actively taught and dedicated time throughout the day

  • Student groups will be kept together in static groups (when possible) for contact tracing and limiting  transmission

  • Frequent sanitizing of surfaces and bathrooms

  • Face coverings (masks/shields) required for MS and HS when social distancing is not possible. Face coverings recommended at K-4 when feasible and appropriate.

  • No public visitors to schools

  • On-site learning will return to every day for all students

  • Near to full capacity in schools with modified operations and school activities (e.g., modified lunch or recess to limit large grouping)

  • Modified school schedule to allow for static groupings of students and limit mixing of students during the day.

  • Families may choose 100% remote learning

  • Limits or restrictions on extra-curricular activities in order to minimize mixing of groups

  • All school facilities may be open on a limited basis, with an approved use plan.

  • Gatherings may be allowed if social distancing can be adhered to.

Phase 3  

Return to normal local or state operations


  • Handwashing and steps to limit germ transmission are encouraged

  • Face coverings will be determined by the school board

  • Visitors & volunteers will be allowed in schools.

  • On-site learning will return to every day for all students

  • Students will rotate through schedules and routines as normal

  • No restrictions on extra-curricular activities

  • School facilities available for public rental

  • Extracurricular activities are ok, pending MHSA approval.

Positive Case Response

If there is a positive case in the school we will:

  • Isolate the individual as soon as possible.
  • Make the necessary contacts (family member) – Pickup timeline is important.
  • Require infected persons to be out of school as recommended by the GCCHD.
  • Follow health department guidelines regarding recommendations for close contacts.

Overall Guidelines

Bus Guidelines

  • Hand sanitizer available;
  • Bus windows down when appropriate;
  • Assigned seating;
  • Parents are required to keep sick children home;
  • Follow previously-established bus rules.
  • Buses will be cleaned regularly.

Campus Guidelines

  • Students
    • Students are required to stay home when sick.
    • Students will follow the health screening protocols as outlined by School District Nurses and Administration.
    • Students will be assigned seats in classrooms.
    • Students diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus are asked to immediately notify their physician and call their school. 
    • Students are encouraged to practice safe and sanitary practices.
    • Students are encouraged to wash hands frequently.
    • Students are expected to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow.
  • Engineers/Custodians will:
    • Perform all regular tasks for normal housekeeping.
    • Clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces to include door knobs, handrails, table/counter tops, outside of lockers, etc., when possible.
  • Staff (administrators, teachers and support staff) 
    • Expectations, Routines and Procedures:
      • Classroom and School Celebrations are an important part of the school experience and will continue.
      • Remove extra, personal items from the classroom to allow for efficient cleaning;
      • Utilize seating charts in classroom, labs, and maker-spaces;
      • Help maintain classroom/work space.
  • Staff Illness:
    • Practice self-monitoring and self-assessing prior to coming to work
    • Should a student or staff member become ill with COVID-like symptoms, we will adhere to HIPAA and FERPA expectations to protect the privacy of others; 
  • Volunteers and Guests
    • Volunteers and admitted guests must follow all established health and safety protocols while in the buildings.
  • Vendors
    • Vendors must follow all established health and safety protocols while in the buildings.

Lunch Service Guidelines

  • Return to our regular meal program hosted in the cafeteria,
  • Maintain food allergy and other health protocols,
  • With advance notice, parents may eat with their child in designated areas.

School Schedules

  • Daily schedules will run as normal, including the Friday early release.

Distance Learning 2023 - 2024

In-Person Learning - Belgrade Public Schools believes that in-person attendance has distinct educational advantages, including but not limited to:

  • Opportunities to collaborate in-person.
  • Developing personal communication skills.
  • Participation in elective courses.
  • Developing relationships with others in the school community.
  • Meeting individual social-emotional needs

K-8 Distance Learning - Belgrade Public Schools believes that the role of distance learning is to provide educational opportunities for students in a health crisis (similar to former homebound criteria). Exceptions may be made for individual students by joint approval of the principal and Assistant Superintendent. If approved as a Distance Learner, students will access a district-prescribed program (e.g., Edmentum, BYU).

9-12 Distance Learning

  • Provide educational opportunities for students in a health crisis.
  • Allow flexibility in accessing education for students with intense schedule demands.
  • Allow students to expand their coursework in an area of special interest beyond that offered in the regular school program.

DL Consideration - A request for DL must be reviewed by a team composed of:

  • administrator
  • teacher
  • counselor
  • parent
  • other professionals (as invited)

If the qualification is health-related, a school nurse should be on the team. The principal or designee will contact the parent to invite their participation.

9-12 Platforms - With approval from a building administrator a student may enroll in one of the following platforms for up to 4 courses per semester. The student must comply with the rules, requirements and guidelines established by the program in which they are enrolled.

  1. The district’s primary platform is the Montana Digital Academy (MTDA).
  2. If courses are not offered through MTDA, approved DL students may take courses through Brigham Young University Independent Study.

Earned credit for these courses will be recorded on the transcript and applied towards graduation.

9-12 Requirements

  1. The student and a parent will need to meet with a High School administrator and a counselor before the initial semester that they are enrolled in Distance Learning (unless emancipated).
  2. Students and families will be provided with the drop deadline date for in-person and DL class enrollment for the upcoming semester.
  3. Students need to remain on track to graduate in four years to be eligible to participate in Distance Learning. Counseling staff will advise students and families on required courses for graduation.
  4. Students who take courses online that are offered in-person at Belgrade High School will not be eligible for the Advanced Studies diploma.
  5. Unless medically-required, the student must take the remainder of classes onsite at BHS.
  6. Both student and parent must sign the BHS Distance Learning Request.
  7. The student must have a course plan that culminates with a diploma.
  8. The student must have a 2.5 GPA in the previous year to be considered for admission.
  9. The student must commit to participating in DL for a semester.
  10. The student or parents must respond within 48 hours to communication from the DL provider or school official.
  11. The Building Principal can waive the above criteria.

School Communication 

Providing Information:

  • The Superintendent is the Belgrade Public Schools District designated contact for communication related to the reopening plan;
  • Schools and staff will be briefed prior to the public, when possible;
  • Use the Belgrade Public Schools website (, Facebook page, and school-associated social media to provide updates to the public; The District's PIO will participate in the updating process. 
  • In the event of an emergency, Belgrade Public Schools will initiate its mass notification system through Infinite Campus Messenger; 
  • The press and media partners will be included in communication when possible; 

Possible Illnesses on School Property

  • Communicate with the proper authorities, school trustees, school and district administrators;
  • Follow best practices in regards of disinfection/sanitization and communication to staff, community;
  • Follow legal requirements of HIPPA and FERPA.

Human Resources

The most significant change in HR is that if an employee becomes infected with the COVID virus, they will have to use their accrued leave to address the illness and quarantines. The district will not provide additional leave for COVID infections.

Mental Health Services

Belgrade Public Schools (Belgrade Public Schools) is dedicated to providing support for students, families and staff in the area of mental health and wellness.  We recognize that living in this post-pandemic has contributed to added stress for families and staff.  In this acknowledgement, options for mental health support, when needed, outside of what Belgrade Public Schools can provide is a priority we continue to advance with local and regional partners.  Services can be facilitated through the following Belgrade Public Schools professionals:

  • School-based academic counselors
  • Building level administrator(s)
  • Behavior Specialists
  • Therapists

This guide will be revised/reviewed every six months and allow for public participation in the process.

School Board Acceptance


Date: 6/12/2023

This reopening plan has been developed by Belgrade Public Schools in accordance with the best practices for reopening schools. It has been reviewed and approved on the date listed above.  


Godfrey Saunders
Superintendent of Belgrade Public Schools


Holly Murray
Chairman of the Belgrade Public Schools Board of Trustees