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Area schools to close out school year with remote learning

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LAKE COUNTY – Last week all school boards in the county decided to keep their campuses closed through the end of the school year. 

School officials made independent decisions to continue distance learning after Governor Steve Bullock, on May 7, gave districts across Montana the option to re-open or stay closed following a March 16 closure of Montana schools in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.  

Administrators acknowledged the difficulties associated with online learning but praised students, teachers and families for adjusting to the changes. Charlo School District Superintendent Steve Love wrote in an online letter to the community: “Students are doing their best. Parents are trying their hardest. Teachers have reinvented the wheel. Hang in there and finish strong.” 

Lake County school boards invited comment from the public in virtual meetings last week to decide how to proceed. Administrators also consulted with the public health department and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ education department to help inform their decision. Every public school in the county concluded that the best way to keep students, staff and the community safe would be to keep students at home for the rest of the semester. Teachers will continue to provide remote instruction. Students can keep getting meals from the schools as well. 

In letters to the community, local superintendents said they have been discussing whether schools will open as usual in the fall but have not made any decisions yet.

Polson School District Superintendent Rex Weltz said the district is working on plans for finishing out the school year and holding a graduation cere- mony. Those plans will be announced in the coming weeks. 

At the Ronan School District, school meals will continue as they have been.

The St. Ignatius School District is giving students the choice between doing final assessments at school or at home. Those who decide to test at school will need to contact their teachers to schedule a time. Students will be expected to turn in textbooks and borrowed computers after they complete their coursework. 

The St. Ignatius High School graduation will be held on June 6 at 2 p.m. on the football field. Students and their families will drive onto the track and park, while spectators will remain outside the track. Speeches and certificates will be presented and other graduation components will be available on the school’s website. There will be a parade following graduation. Community members are welcome to cheer for the graduates while maintaining social distancing guidelines.  

The Arlee School District board of trustees declared an “unforeseen emergency” for the district through June 30. Students will continue with remote instruction through May 28, which was the originally scheduled final day of school. 

The Charlo School District’s last day of online instruction will be May 27. Teachers will continue to distribute schoolwork packets until school ends. Students will have opportunities to pick up their belongings at times scheduled by last name on May 7 and 8. Information about the schedule can be found on the school’s Facebook page. Students will be asked to return textbooks and technology after the school year is complete. 

The school will hold a graduation ceremony on May 24 at 3 p.m. There will be an eighth-grade promotion on May 27 at 7 p.m. The district is working out details for safe ceremonies. 


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