LEWISTOWN — Fergus High School and Lewistown Junior High School will go back to 100% capacity learning on February 1st. The student population is currently on what the district calls A-B Schedule. Half of students attend class on Monday/Wednesday, the other half on Tuesday/Thursday, with Friday for students at greater risk of failing.
In preparation for all students returning to campus throughout the week, Lewistown Public Schools hosted a virtual town hall on Monday night. The meeting allowed public questions and comments. A majority of parents agreed that heading back to the classroom is the best option.
“From a parent's perspective, I think you heard our frustrations and we appreciate the additional push to get the kids back to school. We are excited to hear that they will be going back next week,” said Lewistown parent Judi Martin during the meeting.
In an effort to gauge community opinion, Lewistown Public Schools released a poll that found that just 16% of parents were not in favor of 100% in-person learning.
Thom Peck, superintendent of Lewistown schools, hopes that putting COVID-19 protocols as the highest importance will put their minds at ease. He said, “We’re still doing all the sanitizing protocols. We’re going to distance as much as possible. Re-emphasize the mask wearing. Another thing I think could be a factor in us helping get back to 100% is ionizing our air filtration. Every classroom, every school building, including gyms and performing art centers, our air handlers ionize it and that cuts down on bacteria, mold, and of course viruses.”
Here is the full news release from the school website:
After careful consideration, Lewistown Junior High and Fergus High School are planning to return to full capacity on Monday, February 1st.
There were a few key factors that influenced this decision. The recent change in contact tracing protocols from the Central Montana Health District will help limit the impact of any future positive cases in our schools. Going forward, there will continue to be a strong emphasis on wearing masks 100% of the time. To reinforce and recommit to our safety plan and protocols, all students will be issued a form that defines expectations and acknowledges a willingness of all parties to remain at full capacity and bring back some normalcy to the school environment. This form will need to be signed by both the student and a guardian. We feel a strong commitment to the CMHD guidelines will limit transmission and reduce quarantines among our students and staff.
In addition, we recognize the importance of input from all of our stakeholders. Surveys to staff and parents as well as input from students and the community helped identify and address concerns about returning to full capacity. There remain some challenges that are not easy to overcome but we plan to spend the rest of this week addressing those concerns in the safest way possible.
As we return to full capacity, the plan is to return to school full-time from Monday thru Friday. However, to account for the unique virtual learning needs due to the pandemic, we will follow the elementary plan to use the same Flex days of Jan. 29, Feb. 12, March 19, April 23 and May 14. We recognize that in-person instruction is the best approach to education and we look forward to seeing ALL of our students back in school safely. We appreciate your commitment to KEEPING our kids in school.