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Helena School District surveys families on reopening options

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 20:54:10-04

The Helena School District is asking parents to weigh in on their preferences and their children’s needs for when classes resume next month.

Families started receiving email links to an online survey from Panorama Education this week. The survey includes questions like whether they feel comfortable having their students return for in-person classes and whether they want to see in-person instruction, distance learning or a mixture of the two.

Helena Public Schools Superintendent Tyler Ream said the survey should only take a few minutes, and that it will provide invaluable data as the district makes its plans for the next school year.

Ream said they have sent previous surveys this summer, but they want to make sure they understand where families are now – especially as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has risen.

“It really aids us in our planning process to have active, live data,” he said. “Prior to this survey, we’re using data from June. Yeah, that’s only roughly two weeks old, but a lot has changed in two weeks, and so we want to be able to constantly make sure that what we’re planning for and what we’re planning with is current and relevant.”

The district sent the survey to families’ known emails to ensure that, as much as possible, the responses come only from those with children in Helena Public Schools. However, they have provided an online link for those who did not receive an email.

Ream said they will continue to contact families as the start of the school year approaches.

The district still plans to release a comprehensive plan for the school year around the end of this month. That plan will lay out procedures for four possible forms of instruction: fully remote learning, rotating students between classrooms and online attendance, in-person instruction with significantly modified operations, and a return to near-normal procedures.

Ream expects the district may need to move back and forth among those phases during the year. He said they will also be providing an option for parents who are not ready to have their kids return to in-person classes at all.