NEWS RELEASE: Miles City Schools Begin School Year in Tier 1 - District Leadership Narrows Focus to Goals of Strategic Plan
The Miles City School District opened its doors to teachers and staff on Monday, August 23rd. The week serves as one of preparation as teachers and staff ready themselves for the students that will enter the District’s six schools on Monday, August 30th. Beginning its third consecutive school year with restrictions and challenges caused by COVID-19, the District is referring to its current condition as “next normal.” While a new normal has certainly not been established, members of the District team feel confident that this next normal positions them well for the challenges and opportunities that will come during the 2021-22 school year.
At its June 8th board meeting, the board of trustees voted unanimously to rescind all emergency policies and in doing so, ended the declared state of emergency for the District. Shortly after, the governor declared that Montana was no longer in a state of emergency either. While there are no emergency policies in place, the District has two well-established plans that it can rely on should the conditions within the schools change. The two plans, the Safe and Healthy Reopening Plan and the Remote Learning Plan lay out a tiered approach to opening District schools and also outline a continuity of services plan should the District or any one of its buildings need to move tiers due to changing conditions associated with COVID.
Currently, all District schools find themselves in Tier 1, which looks like traditional, brick and mortar schooling. No remote learning options will be available, as all instruction will take place face-to-face. Masking will be optional for students and staff. Vaccines are also optional, and unless contact tracing is required, no student or staff will be asked about their vaccination status. All inquiries regarding vaccination status will be conducted by OneHealth/public health. The District will not be the entity requesting this information. Cleaning protocols that were adopted last school year will remain in place. Good hand hygiene will continue to be encouraged, including the availability of hand sanitizer. In Tier 1, the schools will be much more open to visitors and volunteers, and each school plans to proceed with open houses, planned programs, events, and concerts, and activities and athletic events will resume a more normal schedule without restrictions on fans, either home or away. As per President Biden’s executive order, masks are still required when on any type of school bus, as this is considered public transportation. This requirement will affect those who ride bus before or after school, and all students participating in athletics and activities requiring the use of a bus. Students, coaches, and driver are required to wear a mask at all times while on the bus. The exception to this executive order allows the driver, when the bus is empty, to remove his/her mask.
In this year of next normal, the District is committed to the finalization of a three to five year strategic plan which establishes four District goals in the areas of: Curriculum, Quality Instruction, Partnerships, and Quality Learning Environments. While leaders of the District recognize that COVID is still impacting their schools and their daily operations, the efforts of District leadership will be focused on meeting the demands of these goals and realizing changes that will lead to new growth and vitality in the Miles City School District.
The District is fully staff and ready to greet students beginning August 30, 2021. Thank you Miles City community for entrusting your children’s education to the Miles City School District.
As part of the ESSER III application process, the Montana Office of Public Instruction and Federal Department of Education are asking each school district to prioritize its needs (to be met with ESSER III dollars) based on input from its stakeholders. A survey was released to the Miles City community July 29th, and respondents were given until August 6th to complete the survey and submit. The priorities outlined by the District in the survey were selected based on the criteria which must be met to expend ESSER dollars. Attached are slides indicating the results of the survey.
The Miles City Unified School District has already taken measures to begin meeting the needs prioritized by our community. Some of those measures include:
1. For the priority of providing a safe learning environment, continued cleaning protocols remain in place and products have been purchased; though masks will be optional in the coming school year, cloth masks for students and staff are available upon request; safety/crisis plans have been reviewed and updated; ALICE training and new district trainers are in the works, and we are working with public health for a grant that would allow our district to be staffed with a school nurse(s).
2. For the priority of providing adequate and appropriate learning materials for students and staff, curriculum and professional development opportunities have already been provided in the areas of 6-8 Math, 3-6 Reading/Literacy, K-12 Writing/Global Literacy, 8 Social Studies, and updates to the special education curriculum. Additional curriculum and professional development will follow as continued horizontal and vertical alignment at all grades levels and content areas is established.
3. For the priority of addressing mental health needs of students and staff, the District is working on bringing
Trauma-Informed Training to all staff, improving the District required suicide prevention training for new and returning staff, investing in new Social Emotional Learning curriculum, and making counselors available throughout our District schools.
4. For the priority of ensuring nutritional needs of students are met, the District has applied and will continue with free breakfasts and lunches for ALL K-12 students for the entirety of the 2021-22 school year.
The next step of the application process is due August 24th. As we complete the application process, updates are being posted to Facebook and the District website.