MISSOULA — The beginning of the 2020 school year finds elementary, middle, and high school staff and students working to find a new norm. It can be a lot to take in, and schools are trying to alleviate any anxiety.
Target Range School is starting with a boot camp, though it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
“They’re coming in in small groups, about three families at a time, and they get to meet their teacher, get welcomed back to school, set up their school supplies, also understanding what their expectations are," Target Range Superintendent, Heather Davis Schmidt, said.
The new standard of hand hygiene, face masks, and social distancing are all part of those expectations, and the school is stressing immunizations now more than ever.
Davis Schmidt knows kids are social creatures. She and her staff have set up expectations that she hopes students will follow.
“We employ something called positive behavior expectations and it’s really just about having students understand in a positive way what we need to do in order to keep them safe, to keep them healthy, and to manage their well-being for the best interest of the whole community," Davis Schmidt said.
Hellgate Elementary and Middle School Superintendent, Doug Reisig says he and his staff are excited to get the ball rolling.
“We’ve spread out the classrooms to accommodate the number of kids that we’re having to try to keep as much distancing as we can," Reisig said. "Our kids are going to be in cohort groupings so they pretty much stay together all day long and if we have to we move teachers to come to them.”
Unlike many other schools, Hellgate students will be in school five days a week, with staggered times for elementary and middle school students. A result, several new teachers were hired to accommodate the decreased class size.
Both superintendents say the biggest key to reaching this point, and in keeping everything running smoothly moving forward, is constant communication with families, students, and staff.
“I think we’ve done a pretty good job keeping our parents apprised of what’s happening and our PTA’s been great at getting information out, so we feel pretty good at this point,” Reisig said.
Boot camp for Target Range students begins Wednesday, while Hellgate School starts classes next Wednesday, Sept. 2.