Frequently asked questions about GFPS reopening

We’ve been hearing a lot of the same questions asked in school board meetings and during the district’s Facebook Live update videos, so we’re compiling a list of some of them with information from the district.

This is my no means an exhaustive list and if you have other questions, you can email and we’ll work to update this list, or email the district directly at

Do students have to wear masks?

Yes. Gov. Steve Bullock has mandated that masks be worn in public schools in counties in counties with four or more active cases. The district will make accommodations for students and faculty within the law where necessary, according to Superintendent Tom Moore.

What would prompt school closures with positive COVID-19 cases?

County Health officer said during the Aug. 10 school board meeting that that there’s not a black and white answer to what would prompt school closures and it would be based on multiple factors, such as the overall cases in the county, rate of spread, how it’s spreading, the capacity of the local healthcare system, availability of personal protective equipment and whether positive cases in the school district was a cluster outbreak versus a handful of isolated cases.

GFPS board approves reopening plan

What happens if students refuse to wear masks?

Moore said they’ll start with education and counseling about why it’s necessary. But it’s what is required currently per the governor’s order. Bottom line, Moore said, is if students don’t want to wear a mask, there’s a remote learning option.

How will lunch be served?

Elementary students will eat in the cafeteria with masks upon entry and exit. Food will be served differently. They’ll be in their cohort groups and distanced.

There is one secondary school (East Middle School) that is going to try to pilot a “eat in the classroom” option.

GFPS board to consider, vote on final reopening plan Aug. 10

If a student is quarantined, what happens?

It will be treated like other illness absences with work provided by teachers and some online tools, but will not be shifted to the same remote learning environment as those who chose remote learning for the entire year.

GFPS bus survey due by Aug. 13

Are there options for those enrolled in remote learning?

Yes, parents have the option to register their child for remote learning. Registration is now closed. If this is an option you are interested in, contact your child’s school.

“Communication between the school and families is incredibly important.  Remote learning may not have all of the options that families are used to seeing in the traditional setting.  Our schools will work to help develop the best possible plan for students under the model families select but there may be limits to offerings,” according to Assistant Superintendent Heather Hoyer.

At the elementary level students will receive their instruction through a software program called Pathblazer. This software program provides customized instruction to meet the individual needs of students. A certified teacher will be assigned to oversee those students participating in remote learning.

 The district is setting up a remote learning resource center at Roosevelt School, 2501 2nd Ave. N. That center probably won’t be ready until September but it will be a place to access support from teachers and technology support. Special education students may be able to have some one on one time there as well, Moore said.

The district is accommodating special education students in remote learning and parents should call their school for more information.

GFPS offers update on school reopening plans, fall sports

What about sports?

On Aug. 13, the Montana High School Association Executive Board met and the
following actions were taken:

  • The board approved allowing each classification/district/division to cancel non-conference games this season, if they so choose.
  • The board approved the following addition to the MHSA face coverings policy:
    • Cloth facial coverings are required for all players, coaches and officials. Face coverings do not have to be worn during play, but substitutes must wear masks when not competing or per specific MHSA sport requirements. Face coverings must be worn by players/coaches by rule, no matter the number of active COVID-19 cases in the county.
  • The board approved the following for the MOA:
    • When necessary, because of a shortage of officials, 2 soccer officials can be used instead of 3 for varsity regular season contests.
    • When necessary, because of a shortage of officials, 4 football officials can be used instead of 5 for varsity regular season contests.
  • The board approved a request from Class A to adjust football playoffs from 12 to 8 teams and adjust playoff dates.
  • The board approved the following:
    • Any MHSA activity participant who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 cannot return to play until he/she is evaluated by a licensed health care professional, and has written clearance to return to play by both the county health department and a licensed health care professional.

Middle school sports are expected to begin shortly after school starts but not on the first day of classes, according to GFPS Athletic Director Mike Henneberg.

“We are currently working across the state with other districts and health departments to address concerns related to conducting the fall high school sports season. Once this is resolved, we will focus our attention on local middle school programming and what we will need to do to offer best opportunity for participation while mitigating the risk of COVID-19,” Hennenberg wrote in an update.

He told The Electric that he’s hoping to have more information regarding middle school sports in the next week or so.

Is the Hands program being offered?

The HANDS program is starting the first day of school. Registration spots will be limited and based on availability of staff and the ability to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Masks are required and families must register online. For questions, call 268-6932.

Are band and choir being offered?

Yes those programs are being offered with distancing and protocols in place to use masks or covers on instruments to prevent virus spread.

GFPS preparing to return to school in August

When is orientation for C.M. Russell High School?

According to a post by the high school, 9th graders and new students to CMR, will have an orientation on Aug. 26 for a half day in the morning. The orientation will include school tours. Class schedules will be mailed the week of Aug. 17. Students are asked to arrive Aug. 26 with their printed schedule, a mask, a pen and a notebook. Individual teachers will give supply lists and provide a week or so for students to obtain those items. Here is an interactive map, with student videos, to acquaint yourself with our building and traditions before then.

When is orientation at Great Falls High?

The first day of school and more information will be posted soon on the GFH website soon, according to officials.

Are masks required for recess and P.E.?

Moore said masks will be required at recess. For P.E., officials are reviewing group size and distancing so masks may be required.

When the weather is nice all HPE classes will be held outside.

If I haven’t heard about remote learning yet, what should I do?

Call your school.

Letters from teachers went out this week, according to officials on Aug. 20.

Emails from teachers will go out Monday, Aug. 24 with that information, according to the district. If you don’t receive that email, call your school.

Will school be a normal day length?

Yes. Elementary and middle schools are going the normal day in cohort groups to minimize interactions. High schools are going to full day but with a block schedule to minimize interactions.

How are you dismissing at the end of the day?

Moore said there will be protocols in place to get students dismissed in their cohort groups, but it will vary by school and the plan will be provided by school officials.

Will laptops and hotspots be available for students doing remote learning?

Yes. Contact the district to find out how to get a device. The district IT director is asking families to limit themselves to one per family to ensure there are enough districtwide, especially in case the district has to go fully remote again.

The survey for remote learning included a question whether a device or internet was needed. Superintedent Tom Moore said Aug. 20 that teachers would be sending out information about remote learning on Monday, which would include information about checking out a laptop or hotspot.

Assistant Superintendent Ruth Uecker said Chromebooks will be checked out from the school that your child would have otherwise attended. She said call the school to get that information if you haven’t been contacted yet.

The remote learning resource center at Roosevelt School will also open Monday, Aug. 24 and that number is 268-7952.

How many students are doing remote learning?

According to Assistant Superintendent Heather Hoyer, 630-640 secondary students so far have opted for remote and 840-850 elementary students. That’s about 14 percent of GFPS students, according to Superintendent Tom Moore on Aug. 20.

Three teachers assigned to two grade levels that they’re sharing, Uecker said.

Are parents allowed to walk their students to class on the first day?

Ruth Uekcer said they’re asking parents not to enter the building. Teachers will be outside to meet students and walk them to class. Parents are encouraged to contact their school directly since each building will have its own process.

When are class schedules going out?

Hoyer said some have already been sent, but others are going out this week and continuing next week.

If you have questions, call your school.