The 3 Phases of Re-opening Schools

Following school closures for COVID-19, schools have a lot to consider as they work to safely bring students back this year. The Governor outlined a three phase plan for re-opening Montana, which also applies to schools: 

Phase 1: Limiting the number of students present in school building 

Phase 2: Full capacity but limiting number of activities to allow for continued social distancing

Phase 3: Near full capacity and full operations but with continued vigilance in health and safety best practices.

Read the full recommendations on School Re-entry & Recovery After a Pandemic Event

OPI_Logo_c_Learn_2020MT Learn & MT Flex Task  Forces

The Montana Learn 2020 and Montana Flex 2020 Task Forces will help in adapting to the new normal in Montana's K-12 public schools following COVID-19.  

 


OPI Press Releases

   

 


For general questions and inquiries related to COVID-19, please email us at OPICOVID19@mt.gov.

At this time the OPI is providing services to schools remotely, all OPI buildings are closed to the public and most OPI staff, and all travel has been suspended until further notice. Use the Contact button at the top of the page to reach out to OPI staff for support. 

Parents:  Your child's school or district should be your first source of information about what services your school or district is offering during the closure.  

Academics & Distance Learning

There are a wealth of resources to support online learning, but consider the aspects of online learning first.

The OPI has an Online Learning Resources page dedicated to sharing Montana-specific resources, as well as support from the national education community, but here's a few quick links to get you started:
What about your students? 

 

 

Assessment

The US Department of Education has approved the OPI’s request to waive requirements for the 2019-2020 school year assessment, accountability, and reporting for states and local education agencies under ESSA. 

The Montana Waivers site shares information on the waivers, as well as how you can share your comments

Please see the Assessment FAQ for the latest assessment information.

School Finance


CARES Act & School Emergency Relief Funds

Under the Cares Act, Montana schools will receive federal emergency funds to help school districts respond to the impact of COVID-19 through the following types of support:

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  • State SEA (The OPI) School Emergency Relief Fund - $41.295 million available to Montana
    • OPI must distribute 90% based on  the Title I formula for FY 2019 and will provide the remaining 10% to all operating EL/HS districts to ensure that Districts that are not Title 1 receive a minimum of $10,000. Districts have broad flexibility in their use of these funds as described in the document below as long as they are spent to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund - $8.765 million available to Montana
    • The nature of this funding will be determined by the Governor's Office and K-12 and higher education are eligible. 
  • Federal Education Stabilization Fund - $307.5 million available nationwide
    • This funding will provide direct grants to those states that are most impacted by COVID-19.
  • Federal Save School and Citizenship Education (“Project SERV”) - $100 million available nationwide   

Cares Act Preliminary Financial Guidance Recorded Webinar

 

School Finance Questions & Concerns

School Nutrition

NEW – USDA Extends Flexibilities for Summer Food Service Program. The following USDA nation-wide waivers are extended until August 31, 2020:

  • Non-Congregate Feeding: FNS is allowing meals to be served to children outside of the normally-required group setting to support social distancing.   
  • Parent Pickup: FNS is allowing parents and/or guardians to pick up meals and bring them home to their children.  
  • Meal Times: FNS is waiving requirements that meals be served at certain standard times to allow for grab-n-go options. This also allows for multiple days-worth of meals to be provided at once.  

Complete the School Nutrition Waiver Survey to report on meal service during school facility closure and to request participation in the Area Eligibility Waiver, Parent Guardian Meal Pickup Waiver, and/or Meal Pattern Waiver. 

Social, Emotional & Behavioral

  • Find information on serving students using the Whole School, Whole Community, and Whole Child Approach on the School Mental Health page
  • OPI's Special Education COVID 19 information page provides the most current guidance, resources, and tools on serving those with special needs. 
    • Questions about serving students with disabilities can be sent to: SPEDCOVID@mt.gov.

Other FAQs & Guidance