Superintendent Doug Reisig has been at Hellgate Elementary School for decades, but has never had a year like the one wrapping up in June.

The COVID 19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how education is delivered in Missoula, but Reisig said every effort has been made to make school as ‘normal’ as possible for his K-8 students.

“As difficult as this year has been, we feel very, very fortunate that we've been able to stay open since day one. five days a week for the entire year,” said Reisig. “Our kids and our teachers, our parents, everybody's done a wonderful job in following the health and safety protocols that we had in place that have allowed us to stay open. So we have 18 days, not counting today left and our goal is to make it through those 18 days.”

As far as the mask mandate goes, Reisig said the school is following the CDC guidelines.

“We're actually continuing the mask mandate for indoors for students and staff and visitors,” he said. “We're following the protocols from the CDC as well as the Missoula City County Health Department, in that when our kids are outside in the fresh air, we try to maintain our social distancing and we removed the masks.”

Reisig expanded his comments on the use of masks.

“It's recommended that we wear them, but we're not making them mandatory that kids have to wear them outside,” he said. “But when we're in the building in the classrooms, even though we try to maintain that social distancing, and of course, with elementary kids and middle school kids, it could be anywhere from three feet to six feet, but just to err on the side of safety, the CDC just came out again over the weekend, and said, keep those masks on when you're indoors. And so we try to follow that as much as we possibly can.”

Reissig had nothing but praise for the Hellgate Elementary School Board and its support for the teachers, staff and students.

“This year, they have been actively engaged in making sure that we have the things that we need to have in place, and that we needed to have in place so that our kids could experience as normal a school year as they possibly could given COVID-19 restrictions,” he said. “Was it a normal year? Absolutely not. But it was as normal as we possibly could have made it, and I just have to give credit to those seven members who serve on our school board that are always looking down the road and always trying to figure out what can we do to provide the best educational experience for the 1,500 children that go to school here.”

Reisig said there will be a promotion ceremony for the eighth grade students as they continue their education at a local high school.

 

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