Re-opening Montana Schools Guidance

The Re-opening Montana Schools Guidance provides non-regulatory resources for Montana schools to use in conjunction with their own plans for the new school year and includes the areas of:

  • Safe physical environments.
  • Academic programming.
  • Social-emotional support.
  • Flexibilities within state rules and statute.
  • School nutrition.
  • Special education.
  • A variety of other issues related to education.

Montana OPI Learn Logo with state outlineMT 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 Superintendent Arntzen is providing the remaining 10% to all operating EL/HS districts to ensure that Districts that are not Title 1 receive a minimum of $10,000.

USED has issued an Interim Final Rule regarding the Equitable Services provision of ESSER funds. The Interim Final Rule issued today gives districts two options:

  • Continue with Equitable Services based on total non-public enrollment with flexible use of the funds for preparing for, responding to, or recovering from COVID-19

  • Calculate the funds for equitable services based on the total number of low-income students in Title I and participating private schools; or calculate the funds using the LEA’s Title I, Part A share from the 2019-2020 school year. If an LEA uses one of the low-income student options, the LEA must not violate the Title I supplement-not-supplant requirement in section 1118(b)(2) of the ESEA. That is, LEAs cannot divert state or local funds from its Title I schools because they receive CARES Act funds.

If districts wish to continue with Option 1, no additional action is required. If districts decide to use ESSER funds as Title I funds (option 2), please email Jay Phillips (Operations Director) and CC Jack O’Connor (Title I Director) and they will assist you with your E-Grants application.

 

  • Additionally, Superintendent Arntzen is using a portion of the 10% state set-aside to provide $3 million in Special Education support.
  • 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 School Re-Entry FAQs for School Nutrition

June 25, 2020 – USDA released the following 5 nation-wide waivers for School Year 2020-2021. These waivers are for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. 

  1. Non-congregate Feeding in the Child Nutrition Programs - EXTENSION #2
  2. Meal Service Time Flexibility in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program - EXTENSION #2
  3. Parents and Guardians to Pick Up Meals for Children - EXTENSION #2
  4. Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs - EXTENSION #4
  5. Offer versus Serve Flexibility for Senior High Schools in the National School Lunch Program for School Year 2020-2021. 

USDA Extends Flexibilities for Summer Food Service Program until August 31, 2020

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 FAQ's & Guidance