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Schools scramble to provide education during COVID-19 closures

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LAKE COUNTY – The classrooms of all local schools are empty in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus sweeping the nation, but teachers and administrators don’t want their students to fall behind during their absence from school. 

For now, schools across the state are closed through March 27. Arlee School District Superintendent Jim Baldwin said he expects the closures to be extended like many of the schools across the country. Schools in Oregon are closed through April 28. 

“We’re preparing for the worst,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin has worked in school administration for decades, and he said this situation is like nothing he’s ever seen. “It’s an uncharted path,” Baldwin said. “We’ve had many situations but we’ve never had the governor come on and tell us to close down for two weeks.”

Superintendents across the county are collaborating to find solutions to the unexpected situation. “The biggest thing we have to do is to be patient and work together,” Baldwin said. “It’s an epidemic. It’s not something that’s gonna go away tomorrow, and our number one concern is the safety of all.”

Baldwin said providing regular meals to all students during the closure is one way the district can provide some support to families. He said if the school hears that a student or family is in need during the closure, the school tries to help out. 

“We’re constantly working to support our administrators and teachers and think of the kids,” Baldwin said. “That’s what we all need to do right now.” 

School approaches to the closure 

Arlee

Teachers will develop online lessons and materials for students to use to continue their studies during the closures. Baldwin said because many students don’t have access to the internet at home, teachers will try to provide materials that don’t require the use of a computer or the internet. Starting next week, instruction will be provided remotely. On March 30, the school will be open to parents who need to pick up their children’s books, distance learning materials and other belongings from the school. 

St. Ignatius

St. Ignatius will be on spring break from March 23 to 27. Teachers and school administrators are working to develop a plan for distance learning should the school closures continue past spring break. 

Ronan

Teachers have assembled lessons that students can access from home. Those who do not have internet access can get hard copies of all lessons from the schools or pick them up during meal pickups. Teachers will also have internet office hours to answer questions via email Monday through Friday. Questions can be directed to teachers at their email addresses or by calling the school at 406-676-3390. 

Polson

Superintendent Rex Weltz said that teachers have reached out to families via phone call. Those with questions can call their schools. Lessons for all students became accessible on the school district’s website Monday, March 23. Weltz said he did not know when the shutdown would end. He is also unsure whether the school district will be required to make up missed school days. He said he would share information updates with families via Facebook and the school website as he receives them. 

Charlo

Charlo schools will be making lunch and breakfast for all families who request them. A week of meals will be distributed at the beginning of the week by pick up or delivery. To sign up, call 406-644-2206.

Two Eagle River School

TERS will be delivering meals to students using bus routes. Those who have questions or would like to be included in delivery should call Tricia at 406-274-3850.

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