COVID-19 Updates

  •  2nd Semester Opt-Out Survey

    January Update

    The end of the 1st semester is nearly upon us and our numbers look good at this point. The number of students and staff members in quarantine haven’t been this low since our first reported school case back in September.  We are confident that this is not spreading throughout the school at a rate that would cause us to reconsider keeping the schools open in full to both students and staff.  I want to thank each of you for your support with this process.  I understand that not everything we are doing is agreed upon by everyone, but we really do thank you for your compliance with the restrictions and guidelines we have been given.  It has not been easy and we don’t want to be doing this either, but we do feel that the plan our administrative team put together this past summer has allowed us to stay open this entire time.  This wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our students, staff and community.  We are truly grateful to live in a community like this where we can all come together to support one another for the greater good.

    Off-Site Update and Information

    I would like to first address all of the parents and students that have chosen the off-site learning platform for the 1st semester of this school year.  This is very important information, so if you have any questions once I have finished giving information about this specific topic, please ask when I have finished. 

    I would first like to thank many of you for your hard work and dedication to your education throughout semester.  This is obviously new to all of us and we gotten this far.  We do have some changes that will need to be made the second semester, but overall we are pleased with the progress of the majority of our students.  

    We currently have approximately 110 students that are utilizing the off-site platform.  Of this amount about 45 students from the HS are using this.  Here are the expectations for all students working off-site in order to receive credit or recognition for the work you have done in the 1st semester:

    1. All students must complete 100% of their coursework for each subject area they are assigned.
    2. A minimum percentage of 70 must be achieved in each assigned course.
    3. All courses must have a 100% completion at a 70% or higher by January 14th in order to be given credit or recognition of completion by the school.

    This means that if any of these criteria are not met by a High School student, credit for any course short of these requirements will not be granted.  Credit will obviously be granted on a course by course basis for HS students.

    Any elementary students who do not meet all of the criteria for each assigned course will be in jeopardy of not passing their assigned grade level and will be forced to complete that grade level again the following year.  This will also be done on a case by case basis and determined by other extenuating factors.  Seat time and communication with the school will be taken into consideration prior to not granting promotion to the next grade level.  

    Again, all courses need 100% completion at a minimum grade of 70%.

    2nd Semester Off-Site Plan

    Student opting back in have to let school know by the end of the 1st semester.  We will let you know when they can return.  This will allow us to set up schedules, gather resources, find desks, chairs, ect...

    Any parent/student choosing to utilize the off-site platform for the 2nd semester of the 2020-2021 school year will be required to come to school and fill out paperwork indicating their intent to do so.  This is true of any student regardless of the platform they completed during the 1st semester.  I want to emphasize this point.  If you chose the off-site platform in the 1st semester and would like to utilize the off-site option the 2nd semester, you must go to your child’s school and fill out the necessary paperwork in order to do so.  You must have the paperwork filled out for your student by January 28th.  Failure to do so will disqualify your student from the off-site learning platform.  

    You will need to provide a working phone number and email address.  We must have both of these from a parent or guardian prior to the student being accepted to participate in off-site instruction.  

    Students will be required to complete 100% of assigned courses at a minimum grade of 70% in the second semester in order to receive credit or be promoted to the next grade level. 

    Student entry next year

    We may require your child to take a test in order to place them in the correct grade level next year.   

    MS-3rd quarter cohort will stay together, but the students will be rotating to different teachers.  This will be very close to a “normal” schedule there, but it is not quite there.  

    Community Facility Use

    We will now be accepting facility use agreements from the public requesting the use of school facilities.  You must fill out a Facility Use Agreement and it must be approved prior to use of any of our facilities.  Once you have been approved you will receive the Sidney School Facility Guidelines form and strictly adhere to restrictions and guidelines we have in place.  These guidelines are a combination of state regulations and requirements as well as our own administrative suggestions for the safety of our students and staff.  Please keep in mind that we are wanting to keep our schools open to all students and staff.  These guidelines are put in place to ensure that this continues moving into the second half of the school year.  As we transition to a new Governor, these guidelines will be subject to change as we receive new information from the state.  Until that time, these guidelines need to be followed or you will not be allowed to continue to use our facilities. 

    Facility Use Guidelines & Expectations  

    The following guidelines were established to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students, staff and any visitors to facilities within the Sidney School District. We take great pride in offering the use of our facilities and ask that you respect the outlined standards amidst the COVID19 pandemic. If you or anyone in your immediate family is sick, we urge you to stay home. All individuals and guests must adhere to the following guidelines: 

    For further information or additional clarification please contact Chris Lee, Activities Director at (406) 433-2330.

    STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK

    • Refrain from coming on campus if you are feeling sick or are under quarantine orders from your local Health Department

    ALL VISITORS MUST CHECK-IN

    • Visitors must sign-in (This may be used for contact tracing if necessary)
    • No more than (25) people can be in attendance for any activity/event
      • No one other than those in direct participation of the activity/event should be in attendance
    • The use of locker rooms is prohibited at this time unless otherwise arranged with Chris Lee
    • Please only utilize the designated facilities for activities/events 

    ***MASKS ARE REQUIRED 

    • Masks/face shields must be worn at all times unless you are participating in strenuous activity
    • Governor Gianforte has already decided this will stay in place until the broader population of elderly and individuals with pre-existing conditions are able to receive the vaccination

    MINIMIZE SHARING EQUIPMENT/GEAR

    • Players/participants should minimize the sharing of equipment or gear
    • Bring your own water to minimize use and touching of drinking fountains
    • Clean and disinfect shared items between use
    • Don’t share towels, clothing or any items used to wipe your face or hands

    CLEANING & DISINFECTING   

    • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds of use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol
    • Visitors must clean and disinfect certain areas and any equipment used during the time of their activity/event (Cleaning solution & disinfectant will be provided) 

    We are excited that we are able to allow the public to utilize our facilities, but we do ask that you please follow these guidelines when doing so.  The Facility Use Agreement can be found on the school website at sidneyps.com.

    Winter Activity Plan

    -Masks required to attend events

    -6 tickets per participant to be distributed however they choose

    -Designated visitor and home seating for events

    -We want to be sure that we are able to continue to have winter events for students and allow spectators into the events.  These guidelines have been approved by the health department and need to be followed closely in order to continue to host events and allow spectators to be present at the events.  We don’t want to have to tell people to wear masks, but it is a requirement according the approved plan by the health department.  Even with the transition to a new governor, the guidance from the state has not changed and very little will likely change in the immediate future.  We may get to a point where we can allow more spectators into our facilities, but that will not happen until a broad sweep of vaccinations are taken by elderly and at-risk individuals ranging from 16-75.  The state has not even received 1/10 of the vaccines necessary to get this group of individuals vaccinated, and not all of these people will be taking the vaccination.  When the state, health department, and school feel it is safe to start loosening the restriction put in place we will do so.  A timeframe for that happening is not known at this time.  

    School Website

    It has come to our attention that not everyone has been told of the school website change.  I do apologize if you were not made aware of this change.  The new address for the school website is sidneyps.com. 

     

     

    October 14,2020

    Parents/Guardians,

    It has been a challenging two weeks with the number of positive COVID cases with both students and staff members.  We do have some good news in looking at our numbers with both positive cases and students in quarantine.

    At this time we have 0 positive cases with students in our district.  We do have 1 staff member that tested positive this week, but they will likely be released from isolation prior to school starting back up on Monday.  We currently have 75 students and 2 staff members that remain in quarantine, but many of them will also be set to come back to school next week.    

    The district appreciates your patience and willingness to work with the schools to help us overcome this ever changing situation.  The new guidelines that came out last week will continue to be enforced.  These guidelines will allow some students the option to return to school even if they are named a close contact.  This will only be allowed if the investigation shows that masks were worn by both the positive case and the close contact during the time of the exposure.  That is why it is crucial to encourage your students to wear a mask.  Encouraging them to do so could allow them to still attend school while they complete their quarantine.  Just as a reminder, any student that is named a close contact, whether masks are worn or not during the exposure, will not be allowed to participate in activities.  Consistent mask wearing by all parties involved in activities is not possible and puts students, coaches and fans of both communities at risk.

    It is important to note that Sidney Public Schools is a non-partisan entity.  The encouragement of the mask wearing only comes from guidance from the health department and as an effort to keep as many kids in school as possible.  While we do have offsite learning options for students in quarantine, we all know that students maximize their academic and social potential by being in attendance at school.  We also want to do what we can to keep our students, staff and community safe.

    We will continue to update you if/when we have positive cases or students in quarantine.  You can find this information by clicking on the COVID tab at www.sidneyps.com.  This is our new web address and will be taking the place of our old address of www.sidney.k12.mt.us.  We will update this as frequently as possible. 

    I want to again express my gratitude to all that you are doing to help SPS as we maneuver our way through this situation.

    Sincerely,

    Brent Sukut
    Sidney Public Schools Superintendent

     

    October 9,2020 
    Additional Quarantine information

    Parents/Guardians,

    Since sending out the information on the new quarantine guidelines yesterday, there are a few areas that need to be clarified.  This should clear up some of the confusion created by a lack of information on my part yesterday.  I do apologize for that, and hope this information will help.

    Students that are currently in quarantine will remain at home until their quarantine date has been satisfied.  Neither the school or health department can conduct an accurate retroactive investigation for a student's contact with a positive case and determine whether or not masks were worn by both parties during the time of potential exposure.  If you have been asked to quarantine by the health department you will need to complete that request from home.

    Students that are named as a close contact will not be allowed to participate in activities.  If you are a close contact that is allowed to attend school, you will not be allowed to participate in activities.  We are currently working on a plan for these students to participate in practice with some strict guidelines.  That information will be given to coaches and they will be able to communicate what these guidelines will be and when they will take effect.  Right now, if your student is a named contact, they will need to complete their quarantine from home and will not be able to practice.  Again, there is no way to accurately investigate old cases and determine whether masks were worn by both parties. 

    A symptom survey will be given to each close contact attending school on a daily basis.  This survey will ask them simple questions about their health that day.  It may ask if they have a sore throat, runny nose, cough, ect…  This will assist the school in monitoring those students.  Students that display symptoms and are close contacts will not be allowed to continue attending school for the remainder of their quarantine.  This is for the safety of all students and staff in each building.    

    If a family member is named as a positive case, any students living full or part time in that household will be required to quarantine from home, unless otherwise told by the health department.  Families do not consistently wear masks around one another while at home, and the spread of this through households is relatively easy.  These students will not have the option to attend school while in quarantine.  

    School staff members will also be given the option to return to school during their quarantine if the health department determines their contact was made while masks were worn by both parties.  Please note that this is an option for them.  If they choose to quarantine from home they will still have the capability to teach from home.  This will be determined on a case by case basis.

    ***This plan will only be in effect for new cases.  All students currently in quarantine will need to follow the guidelines given to them by the health department. 

     

    October 8, 2020 (2 of 2)

    Parents/Guardians,

    School Quarantine

    On October 7th, the Richland County Board of Health voted 4-1 in favor of allowing identified close contacts to a positive case where both parties were wearing a mask the option of attending school
    throughout their quarantine.  In other words, if both parties were wearing a mask when the contact occurred, the identified close contact will have the option of attending school onsite.  Parents of
    students that fall into this “optional monitored quarantine” may choose to allow their child to attend school during their quarantine, or carry out their quarantine from home.  Again, this is the option of the
    parent.  If a student qualifies and chooses to attend school onsite during their quarantine they will need to:

         1. Wear a mask at all times.
         2. Remain symptom free throughout the duration of their quarantine period. 
         3. Eat lunch at school. (This mainly applies to high school students.) 
         4. Complete a health assessment survey daily.

    Students who fail to meet these guidelines will be asked to complete the remainder of their quarantine from home.  If the student becomes symptomatic during the quarantine, the family will need to reach
    out to their primary health care provider, call the walk-in clinic, or call the Richland County COVID Information Line at 433-6947.   

    Student Activities

    Care must be taken that activities that require removing masks are done only when people can socially distance themselves appropriately.  As this is not appropriate or possible for activities that require
    strenuous activity and where social distancing is not possible, close contacts will not be allowed to participate in activities until the duration of their quarantine has been complete.  This will be the same
    for students that qualify for attending school during quarantine.  These students will be allowed to attend practice as long as they wear a mask for the duration of practice and maintain social distancing at
    all times.  

    We understand the frustrations associated with students having to quarantine in the community.  We are doing everything in our power to keep our students and staff safe while still providing as many
    opportunities to all of our students as possible.  The support from the community during this extremely difficult time is appreciated and we hope to continue to find ways to create more opportunities for our
    students while keeping everyone safe. 

    Sincerely,

    Brent Sukut
    Sidney Public School Superintendent

    October 8, 2020 (1 of 2)

    As of Thursday, October 8th, Sidney Public Schools has had 17 total confirmed positive cases with students and staff in the district.  Of these cases at the high school, there are still 6 students and 1 staff member that remain positive and in isolation.  There have been 5 student cases at the high school that have been identified as recovered and released from isolation.  Central School has 1 active case and West Side has 4 active cases.  The Sidney Middle School still has 0 active cases.  This brings our number of identified positive cases in the district to 17, with 5 cases that are recovered.  The new active case count total is 12.   

    Families of students with potential exposure will be notified by the health department once their contact investigation is complete.  Please keep in mind that these investigations take many hours to complete.  If you have been contacted by the school, please be patient as you await a call from the health department.  All protocols have been followed according to the CDC and RCHD guidelines.  Unless you or your student have been notified by Richland County Health, Sidney Public Schools, or your health care provider about a potential exposure, it is not necessary to withhold your student from attending school in-person.  Students from families that received the notification yesterday will not be allowed to attend school until they have been cleared by the RCHD to do so.      

    If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the RCHD will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, stay home, and please call their medical provider or the Richland County Health COVID Information Line (406-433-6947) for specific instructions. At the request of Sidney Health Center, in regards to COVID-19 symptoms, please do not go to the health center without prior contact with your healthcare provider or the Richland County Health Department COVID Information Line.

    Sidney Public Schools will continue to operate with full staff and student onsite attendance.  Any students needing to quarantine due to this case will still have full access to all class content and curriculum at their home through the Sidney Schools online platform.  Contact your building principal for details about these measures.  School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.

     

    October 2, 2020

    On Friday, October 2nd, 2020, the Sidney School District was notified that 3 high school students,  and 1 West Side student all tested positive for COVID-19. The positive tests were confirmed on Thursday, October 1st and Friday, October 2nd.  This is an update for those two days, since we did not get a chance to send out the update yesterday.

     This brings the total positive case count in the school district to (12); (8) cases are at the High School (1 staff member), (1) case at Central, and (3) cases at West Side School. Notifications were sent out by the school to alert necessary families of the situation.  Several students have been asked to stay home today while the Richland County Health Department conducts their contact investigation.  Since learning of the diagnosis, the RCHD and Sidney Public Schools, in cooperation with the family of the student, have been in communication about the plan for this case moving forward.  Families of students with potential exposure will be notified by the health department once their contact investigation is complete.  Please keep in mind that these investigations take many hours to complete.  If you have been contacted by the school, please be patient as you await a call from the health department.  All protocols have been followed according to the CDC and RCHD guidelines.  Unless you or your student have been notified by Richland County Health, Sidney Public Schools, or your health care provider about a potential exposure, it is not necessary to withhold your student from attending school in-person.  Students from families that received the notification yesterday will not be allowed to attend school until they have been cleared by the RCHD to do so.      

    If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the RCHD will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, stay home, and please call their medical provider or the Richland County Health COVID Information Line (406-433-6947) for specific instructions. At the request of Sidney Health Center, in regards to COVID-19 symptoms, please do not go to the health center without prior contact with your healthcare provider or the Richland County Health Department COVID Information Line.

    Sidney Public Schools will continue to operate with full staff and student onsite attendance.  Any students needing to quarantine due to this case will still have full access to all class content and curriculum at their home through the Sidney Schools online platform.  Contact your building principal for details about these measures.  School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.

    October 1, 2020

    On Wednesday, September 30th, 2020, the Sidney School District was notified that a high school staff member, high school student, Central School student and West Side student all tested positive for COVID-19. The positive tests were confirmed on Wednesday, September 30th.

     This brings the total positive case count in the school district to (8); (5) cases are at the High School (1 staff member), (1) case at Central, and (2) cases at West Side School. Notifications were sent out by the school to alert necessary families of the situation.  Several students have been asked to stay home today while the Richland County Health Department conducts their contact investigation.  Since learning of the diagnosis, the RCHD and Sidney Public Schools, in cooperation with the family of the student, have been in communication about the plan for this case moving forward.  Families of students with potential exposure will be notified by the health department once their contact investigation is complete.  Please keep in mind that these investigations take many hours to complete.  If you have been contacted by the school, please be patient as you await a call from the health department.  All protocols have been followed according to the CDC and RCHD guidelines.  Unless you or your student have been notified by Richland County Health, Sidney Public Schools, or your health care provider about a potential exposure, it is not necessary to withhold your student from attending school in-person.  Students from families that received the notification yesterday will not be allowed to attend school until they have been cleared by the RCHD to do so.      

    If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the RCHD will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, stay home, and please call their medical provider or the Richland County Health COVID Information Line (406-433-6947) for specific instructions. At the request of Sidney Health Center, in regards to COVID-19 symptoms, please do not go to the health center without prior contact with your healthcare provider or the Richland County Health Department COVID Information Line.

    Sidney Public Schools will continue to operate with full staff and student onsite attendance.  Any students needing to quarantine due to this case will still have full access to all class content and curriculum at their home through the Sidney Schools online platform.  Contact your building principal for details about these measures.  School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.

     

    September 30, 2020

    On Tuesday, September 29th, 2020, the Sidney School District was notified that another high school student tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test was confirmed on Tuesday, September 29thth.  This brings the total positive case count in the school district to (4); (3) cases are at the High School and (1) case is at West Side School.  A text and an email were sent out last night at approximately 10:45 PM to parents and students that were identified as being part of the infected individual’s contact log.  These students have been asked to stay home today while the Richland County Health Department conducts their contact investigation.  Since learning of the diagnosis, the RCHD and Sidney Public Schools, in cooperation with the family of the student, have been in communication about the plan for this case moving forward.  Families of students with potential exposure will be notified by the health department once their contact investigation is complete.  All protocols have been followed according to the CDC and RCHD guidelines.  Unless you or your student have been notified by Richland County Health, Sidney Public Schools, or your health care provider  about potential exposure, it is not necessary to withhold your student from attending school in-person.  Students from families that received the notification last night will not be allowed to attend school until they have been cleared by the RCHD to do so.      

    If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the Richland County Health Department will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, stay home, and please call their medical provider or the Richland County Health COVID Information Line (406-433-6947) for specific instructions. At the request of Sidney Health Center, in regards to COVID-19 symptoms, please do not go to the health center without prior contact with your healthcare provider or the Richland County Health Department COVID Information Line.

    Sidney Public Schools will continue to operate with full staff and student onsite attendance.  Any students needing to quarantine due to this case will still have full access to all class content and curriculum at their home through the Sidney Schools online platform.  Contact your building principal for details about these measures.  School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.

     

    September 28, 2020 

    On Monday, September 28th, 2020, the Sidney School District was notified that another high school student tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test was confirmed on Monday, September 28th.  This brings the total positive case count in the school district to 3.  Two cases are at the HS and 1 case is at the elementary level.  There are a number of students being asked to quarantine at this time.  Since learning of the diagnosis, the Richland County Health Department and Sidney Public Schools, in cooperation with the family of the student, have shared the contact log for the identified student, and families of students with potential exposure will be notified immediately by the health department.  All protocols have been followed according to the CDC and Richland County Health Department guidelines.  Unless you or your student have been notified by Richland County Health about potential exposure, it is not necessary to withhold your student from attending school in-person.      

    If any staff or students are at risk of exposure, the Richland County Health Department will be in contact with that person to determine a safe and appropriate course of action. It is still recommended that any person who feels sick or ill, stay home, and please call their medical provider or the Richland County Health COVID Information Line (406-433-6947) for specific instructions. At the request of Sidney Health Center, in regards to COVID-19 symptoms, please do not go to the health center without prior contact with your healthcare provider or the Richland County Health Department COVID Information Line.

    Sidney Public Schools will continue to operate with full staff and student onsite attendance.  Any students needing to quarantine due to this case will still have full access to all class content and curriculum at their home through the Sidney Schools online platform.  Contact your building principal for details about these measures.  School officials will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information if and when it becomes available.