With Montana in phase two of the COVID-19 response, Sidney Public Schools (SPS) board members came up with an updated strategy for school facilities at a board meeting on Monday, June 8.
The goal is to get as many students back in school as quickly as possible under the Big Sky reopening plan, said outgoing Sidney Public Schools Superintendent Monte Silk.
“As we have transitioned into phase two, as of Monday, June 1, 2020, we’re looking at wanting to have some groups to be able to attend school as soon as possible this month before July 1,” Silk said. “We also have certain parts of the facilities that we want to open.”
Those facilities include the playground at Central School for the Boys and Girls Club, the high school weight room and gym, high school track and football field.
However, these are not for community use. They are just for students.
“You would have 30 individuals per session with 15 kids in the weight room and 15 kids in the multi-purpose room,” said Sidney High School Principal Brent Sukut. “They would have to bring water bottles, as we have turned off all drinking fountains, and they can’t use the locker rooms.”
Sukut continued: “We would use those new UV cleaners and put them in the weight room immediately after every use.”
Sukut is the next SPS superintendent, due to Silk’s retirement. Carl Dynneson, currently Sidney High School assistant principal, is taking over as principal beginning July 1. He concurred with Sukut, while emphasizing that all guidelines need to be followed.
“It’s just about making sure we follow the MHSA guidelines that were passed down,” Dynneson said. “We want to make sure we have a check-in sheet; answering the survey questions and taking temperatures is a necessity.”
Dynneson noted that recommended non-contact thermometers have been ordered and will be used going forward.
“I think the goal is to get back to a sense of normalcy for our kids,” Sidney High School physical education teacher Daniel Coryell said. “Most schools in our region and our conference have already opened and seem to be doing well with keeping their kids safe, which is our goal as well.”
Coryell will be taking over as Assistant Principal for the upcoming 2020–2021 school year.
The playground will be locked and not open to the public. Opening the outdoor facilities will happen first, specifically the Central School Playground for the Boys and Girls Club only.
“As of now, according to our board policy, we can’t open indoor facilities at the moment,” SPS Chairman Ben Thogersen said. “My feeling on it right now, according to our policy, we can’t open the buildings. I have no problem opening the track, the playground for the Boys and Girls Club, as long as it’s limited access and the practice field for football.”
Until the policy is amended at a later date and more discussions take place, according to Thogersen, only outdoor facilities will open on school property.