GREAT FALLS — Great Falls public schools start a new academic year on Wednesday, August 25, and there is a lot of excitement in the air as staff and students alike are excited to be face-to-face this school year.
That excitement comes with a few nerves as the last few weeks have been contentious, with GFPS announcing its Covid policy for the school year, but schools are ready for kids and kids are ready for school.
Avrie Costley will be a senior at Great Falls High School and is excited to be in her last year, and to be able to do it in person with her teachers and friends. She said last year was made as normal as possible but hopes her final year will be like years past with more in-person opportunities.
“Last year’s seniors didn’t really get to experience all four years like we’ll hopefully be able to do. We couldn’t really go to any games and were limited a lot on what we could do which was hard on a lot of us,” Costley said. “I’m really excited for being in the front row at football games, pep assemblies, all of it.”
Teachers are just as anxious as the students to get the year going, as last year was full of challenges on all sides of school.
Cindy Duffy teaches English at Paris Gibson Education Center and has been teaching in Great Falls since 1991. She says last year was unlike any of the years past but is looking forward to more interactions with her students which she says is beneficial to them and their education.
“You can’t really make puns and jokes online, you have to explain it sometimes,” Duffy said with a laugh. “But when you see the looks on their faces and the lightbulb comes on and they get it, that is what I live for.”
For the week of August 23, GFPS is operating under the "yellow phase" of its Covid policy, which means that masks are required in grades K-6, and strongly encouraged in grades 7-12.
The GFPS website will be updated weekly to inform people about the most recent status.
Here are links to articles about how large school districts in Montana are addressing the mask issue: