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By John Dowd 

Pandemic continues to affect local schools

 

November 5, 2020



As COVID-19 continues to affect everything, Thompson Falls Schools voiced its reasoning for canceling the annual Christmas Bazaar. According to Bud Scully, Superintendent of Thompson Falls Schools, with pandemic restrictions making big events more and more difficult, they believe it would be a poor idea. After consulting with the insurance company, who advised against it, Scully found that the school did not want to pay higher premiums. Scully weighed in during Monday's School Board meeting, mentioning that the Sheriff’s Relief Fund, which is the benefactor of the bazaar, had “enough money in there.” Scully added that the fund currently has around $46,000 in it and budgets for $12,000 annually. According to Scully, the fund, which uses part of that money for their Christmas meals program, could “get by for three years,” with the money already in it.

The school board meeting itself started by introducing several new staff including Whitney Jefferson and Lindsey Franklin who are both first grade teachers, the new school nurse Becky Beckman, and a new K-4 special education teacher Tifini Saner.

After the introductions, a county health board member stood to speak to the school board about approving their COVID-19 plan. According to Nick Lawyer, the MHSA (Montana High School Association) requires school boards in the state to seek local health board approval before enacting a plan. According to Scully, this is not so. Thompson Falls Schools have already received approval from the county health department and are following all the governor’s directives.

Another item on the agenda was the consideration of removing the large tree in the back of the junior high courtyard. Scully stated that one estimate for removing the tree was nearly $8,000. Non-removal is a concern to the school because staff are worried that it could be a hazard if a large branch were to fall and strike a building, student or staff member.

At the meeting, principals gave their monthly reports. Len Dorscher, the elementary principal, talked about parent-teacher conferences, happening this week. He, along with the other principals, explained that parents have two options available to them for meetings. Because of the pandemic, parents and teachers can either meet in person, or remotely, through Google Meet.

Elementary Librarian Pam Peters also came to speak. She presented a new library website that staff have been working on, allowing students to go online and have their favorite books read to them. Along with many other creative features, this new website would allow local teachers and volunteer community members to read books to the kids.

High School Principal Dan Schrock talked about how the high school is faring during the first school year of a pandemic. He expressed concerns about the kids’ school experiences. “We can’t show off our kids this year like we usually do,” he said. Schrock said that with the kids doing well in sports, and with a good group of students, he believes that it is a shame that they cannot do any public events to showcase their achievements properly, such as rallies, parades and bonfires. “I’m so proud of these students, and they really deserve to be noticed,” said Schrock.

 

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