BCHS returns to in-person schooling

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
In compliance

Students in BCHS math teacher Rick Nordahl’s class conform to COVID protocols during school on Monday. All the students are wearing masks, and the class size is limited to allow for social distancing. J.P. Plutt photo

Beaverhead County High School students returned to full-time, in-class education Tuesday morning, the BCHS school board decided Monday night.

Board members unanimously approved the full return to “Level 2” instruction, which is all in-person (except for opt-out students). Masks will still be required on campus. The change was effective immediately.

Board member Patti Jo Staudenmeyer urged moving back to Level 2 prior to the vote, citing encouraging data showing the district’s COVID-19 distancing and mask measures were working.

“The numbers look good,” she said. “I’ve always had this in my mind. I think it’s time to go back full-time.”

Superintendent Gary Haverfield recommended returning to Level 2 schooling, but to have the next two Fridays for non-proficient student instruction only. Staff had asked for those days to attempt to find a better way to provide instruction for full-time opt-out students. Haverfield said instructors spend significant amounts of time providing online instruction to those opt-out students by putting lesson plans and other information on Google Classroom, and they hoped they could find another program to streamline that type of instruction.

Haverfield added there are online school options – School District #10’s program is “pricey” – and may not be warranted for the 22 students that are fully opted out. Twin Bridges has a different program he could research and see if that would fit the high school’s needs, he said.

Parents present at the meeting applauded the decision – literally. Parent Denise Hahnkamp thanked the board, school teachers and staff for their efforts instructing students during the pandemic.

“It’s been a struggle for many kids to be on the online system,” she added. “I’m hoping that you’re all confident we can continue with this five-day-a-week in-person instruction for our kids. There are lots of other ramifications happening because these kids are not in school full time. I believe wholeheartedly they deserve to be here.”

The next board meeting is scheduled for March 9.