Anderson School building mug

Anderson School Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, south of Bozeman.

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Anderson School announced it would move to remote learning for the next two weeks, with additional COVID-19 cases reported in connection with the school on Tuesday.

After consulting with the county health department, school board and school nurse, the decision was made for first to eighth grades to start distance learning on Thursday, with kindergarten remaining in person, according to the announcement.

“This was not an easy decision, and it was reached taking into consideration the safety of students and staff, the potential exposure across grade levels through siblings, the ability of our staff to effectively manage in person and distance learners, and the current turnaround time on testing results,” Superintendent Kristi Jacobs wrote in a Tuesday evening email to parents.

Jacobs said the decision to let kindergarten remain in-person was made based on a lack of known virus exposure in that grade level, the size of the classes, and the challenges to effectively learn remote for that age group.

Students who did not have the materials they needed to begin online learning were instructed to pick them up on Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Parents were told that the individual classroom teacher would communicate their class schedule.

“We encourage you not to have your students gather in person for learning or socially to help us mitigate the risk to all,” Jacobs said in the letter.

Remote learning will be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning in Google Classroom for reach class, Jacobs said in an email to the Chronicle. She said the school has one-to-one Chromebooks for grades first to eighth.

Anderson isn’t the only school to announce a temporary move to 100% remote learning. Last week, Belgrade High School said its school would be remote due to staffing challenges until Nov. 30.

Bozeman’s Irving Elementary briefly transitioned to remote learning on Nov. 3, and Chief Joseph Middle School’s eighth grade classes moved to remote learning on Nov. 5 and 6.

Jacobs and the Anderson School Board submitted a letter for Nov. 6’s public health board meeting in support of the county’s stricter health rules. Jacobs and the board wrote that regardless of whether their school’s students were onsite or learning remotely, keeping COVID-19 out of the district was not within their control.

“As COVID continues to spread in the Gallatin Valley, the downstream effects are directly felt by our school system,” the letter said.

The district said it had seen evidence that masking, social distancing, hand-washing and cleaning measures were effective at limiting the spread.

“In our opinion, slowing the spread of COVID across the entire valley is our best defense. Therefore, the restrictions you are potentially implementing will help keep children in classes,” the letter concluded.

Remote learning for Anderson is scheduled to last until Nov. 30.

In Tuesday’s letter to families, Jacobs said she was proud of all the school had accomplished in its cohort learning model over the last several months.

“I truly appreciate your support in this matter and realize this is a hardship for some families,” she said.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.