Stillwater schools not returning this year

All 5 school boards vote to continue school as is through end of year, graduation ceremonies are planned
Thursday, April 30, 2020
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School boards at all five of Stillwater County’s public K-12 schools have each decided to finish out the school year under the current off-site learning that began when Governor Steve Bullock closed all Montana schools to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Absarokee will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. A graduation ceremony will be held in the school parking lot on May 17, pending good weather conditions, said Absarokee Superintendent Meredith Feddes.

“Students and the households they live in will be permitted and all others will have access via a teleconference option,” said Feddes.

Absarokee has 26 seniors. Eighth graders will be done with the year on Monday, May 18, with the remaining classes done on May 20.

The Columbus Board of Trustees voted Monday night to keep that school district closed through the end of the school year.

“The district will continue to provide educational services through distance learning. The district will start offering limited one-on-one instruction to students on May 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for those needing help to meet the district’s academic requirements to be deemed proficient and promoted,” Superintendent Jeff Bermes told the News Monday night. “The district is working on a graduation plan for our seniors at this time that will be approved by the Board of Trustees and submitted to the County Health Department.” The district is planning on holding a modified graduation ceremony on May 24 at 1 p.m., as was originally scheduled, that meets the guidelines for public gatherings set forth by the governor and the Stillwater County Health Officer.”

Columbus has 55 seniors. The last day of school for grades K through 11 will be May 29.

The Park City School Board has also decided to continue with “distance learning” for the remainder of the school year. The decision was made at an emergency meeting Monday night, April 27, according to Park City Schools Superintendent Dan Grabowska.

A graduation ceremony will be held May 17 on the football field “with limited seating focused on immediate families,” and livestreamed on the NFHS network free of charge, according to the school district’s webpage.

There are 25 PCSH seniors. Classes for the remaining grades will “wind down” by May 21, with teachers to be in touch with parents soon regarding student and school equipment check out.

The Rapelje School Board had already decided at its last board meeting that it would not resume class, with the last day of school falling on May 6. There are six seniors who will graduate on May 1 on the school’s south lawn at 7 p.m. It will be a private ceremony for seniors and 8th grade graduates and open only to immediate family.

The Reed Point School Board decided Tuesday night to continue as things currently are.

“Our board decided it was in the best interest of our school community to keep learning remote for the remainder of the school year,” said Superintendent Heather Jarrett.

Graduation will be held on May 9 at 2 p.m. for graduates and the immediate families — which the board defined as family members with whom the seniors were living during the shelter-in-place period. Weather permitting, the ceremony will be held on the “front grounds area” of the school.

“Additional family members may be present, in their cars only, in the parking area surrounding the front,” said Jarrett, adding that the ceremony will be shared online. Reed Point has 5 seniors.

School will end May 15 for grades K through 11.

Last week, Bullock had given schools the option of reopening on May 7, but left that decision to individual school boards.