Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Gallatin County’s public schools got a huge homework assignment when Gov. Steve Bullock on Sunday ordered all Montana schools closed for two weeks to help control the spread of coronavirus.

Bob Connors, Bozeman schools superintendent, said Monday that administrators are working to figure out how to deliver instruction to students and how to deliver meals to kids who qualify for free meals.

The governor’s order, delivered after the first cases of the virus were reported in Montana, “gives us a little breathing room,” Connors said. “By Thursday we should have everything firmed up.”

Schools in Bozeman and other Gallatin County towns are closed this week for spring break.

Whether Bozeman’s public schools will try to deliver classes to students online the week after after spring break is still being discussed, Connors said.

Connors emailed school families and staff an update and posted information on the school district’s website (www.bsd7.org). Popular Bozeman school events have been postponed, including Hawks Night Live and Bozeman High’s prom.

Other events have been canceled: drivers’ education spring session, spring community education classes, and HiSET tests scheduled March 25. All athletic games, meets and festivals sponsored by the Montana High Schools Association have been suspended indefinitely.

Connors’ message to families said administrators are also trying to figure out what actions they’ll take if the school closure is extended past March 27.

The Bozeman School Board scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday at noon, which may be held electronically to avoid bringing people into close proximity.

The governor’s order Sunday evening said schools would be closed from March 16 to 27, but gave few details as to whether schools would be completely shut down or should switch to teaching classes online.

The governor did say that schools would continue to receive per-pupil state funding through March 27. And he urged schools to provide for students who qualify for free meals.

School districts from Bozeman to Belgrade and Three Forks were getting information out to families on their webpages and Facebook pages.

A Three Forks’ school counselor posted on Facebook that the March 24 ACT test that all juniors take would be postponed. Seniors were urged to take advantage of the time to work on their senior projects and college scholarship applications.

Schools suggested a variety of free online education resources for kids, such as virtual field trips to the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park and Mars; the Scholastic website; and Ivy League classes offered online for free (https://www.freecodecamp.org/news/here-are-380-ivy-league-courses-you-can-take-online-right-now-for-free-9b3ffcbd7b8c/).

The Belgrade schools reported on Facebook that officials are working on how to make Grab-N-Go bags with free breakfasts and lunches available for pickup. Belgrade’s March 31 kindergarten registration was postponed indefinitely.

Several school Facebook pages reported that Charter Communications is offering free internet access to Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days for new kindergarten to 12th grade students and college students. Charter’s website said that to enroll, families should call 1-844-488-8395, and installation fees will be waived for new student households.

The Chronicle unsuccessfully sought comment from public school administrators in Belgrade, Manhattan and Three Forks, and private schools including Heritage Christian, Manhattan Christian, Petra Academy and Headwaters Academy.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.