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WELCOME BACK LETTER TO PARENTS

August 4, 2020

Potomac School District #11 Parents:

Welcome back for a new school year at Potomac School.  This will certainly be an interesting, exciting, and rewarding school year both for your students and for our staff members. Academically, we will be continuing our emphasis on literacy in all subject areas as we wrap up the final year of our original literacy grant and begin the first year of our new five-year literacy grant. The resources that are available to our teachers as a result of these grants help us provide the best possible instruction for our students along with strong professional development experiences for our teachers. We are fortunate to have all but two of last year’s teaching staff returning this year.  Ms. Betson and Ms. Hausmann are not returning. 

Here are our teachers for 2020-21:

  • Brianna Peterson – Prekindergarten and instructional interventionist (New to Potomac),
  • Lauren Wilson – Kindergarten (New to Potomac- although Ms. Wilson student taught in Potomac last year),
  • Terri Klein – First grade (Veteran teacher returning after a leave of absence last year),
  • Ashley Olsen – Second/Third grade,
  • Abby Stitt – Fourth/Fifth grade,
  • Christi Taillefer – Sixth grade and PE (K-8),
  • Kristina Davis – Science and mathematics (grades 6-8), and electives,
  • Jessica VanKerkhove- Social Studies (grades 6-8), Math (grade 6), and instructional interventionist,
  • Damian Gaglia – English language arts (grades 7-8), Math (grade 7), and electives,
  • Sarah Schmill – Math (grade 5), electives, and instructional coach, and
  • Jen Vogel – Special education (K-8).

Supporting our teaching staff for this school year are:

  • Heather Marcella - business manager, district clerk, and board secretary,
  • Janette Ployhar – administrative assistant,
  • Gail Abbott _ Title I paraprofessional,
  • Sarah Duella – Personal care attendant paraprofessional
  • Justin Iverson – custodian and maintenance,
  • Amy Truett – food service manager, and
  • John P. Rouse, principal.

Making sure that students and staff members have the resources they need to succeed are our Board of Trustees.  For 2020-21, our school board members are as follows:

  • Cliff Vann – board chairperson,
  • Kelsy Ployhar – board vice-chairperson,
  • Gary Long – board member,
  • Wes Mitchell – board member (new member), and
  • Dr. Courtney Hathaway – board member (new member).

As I enter my fourth year as principal for the Potomac School District, I am looking forward to the 2020-21 school year with great anticipation.  Over the summer months, we have been busy planning the best way to provide quality learning experiences for our students in a safe and welcoming environment.  Obviously the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to impact our students and staff members during the upcoming school year.  While the potential impact of this virus outbreak continues to change, we are monitoring the local conditions and the specific health and safety requirements from the Missoula City-County Health Department and Governor Bullock’s office.  Our intent is to provide the best teaching and learning possible while maintaining as safe environment within the constraints of our facilities. At the time of this letter, the governor’s directive requiring face masks in public does not apply to schools; however, this directive could change if the pandemic conditions worsen.  Currently, students will not be required to wear face masks in the school; however, face masks are required of all students who will be riding the school buses. Please plan to send a face mask to school with your child, so if any conditions arise that would require the wearing of face masks your child will be prepared. Each teacher has the discretion of deciding to require the wearing of masks should a particular classroom activity call for students to work in close proximity to one another.  An example of this might be doing a dissection in science class where students are sharing a specimen and must be physically close to other students.

Our school board has adopted policies that allow us to offer opportunities for students to continue learning at home should a parent choose to keep his or her student due to health concerns for the student or other family members. Our teachers will have the capability of live streaming classroom instruction to those students who are unable to be present in the classroom.  If you want to keep your child at home rather than send him or her to school, we have an “Opt Out” Form that needs to be completed by the parent prior to the first day of school.  If this option is chosen, the student will be expected to participate via live streaming during the normal school hours.  Attendance will be verified by the student’s participation in the live streaming sessions.  The parents will be responsible for delivering any written work to the school that they are not able to transmit electronically.

Parents and grandparents play a critical role in the educational process for your children and grandchildren.  This is particularly true during these unusual and sometimes stressful periods. Please encourage your child to practice good hygiene such as thorough hand washing. Working together we can provide the best possible learning experiences for your children.  For this to happen, we need to maintain good communications between the school staff members and you.  Please get to know your student’s teachers for the upcoming year and establish effective communication channels with the teachers through phone, e-mail, or direct contact early in the school year.  Please do not wait until a concern arises to reach out to your child’s teachers.

I want to be accessible to you whenever I might be needed, so please keep my office and cell phone numbers accessible.  The office number is 406 244-5581 extension 201, and my cell phone number is 406 540-2013. I hope you will find me to be a good listener.  If there is a school issue that is important to you, then that issue is also important to me.  You will find that when I am faced with a tough decision, I will always seek the solutions that are best for students.

Once again, I am excited to be a part of the Potomac School staff and the Potomac community, and I look forward with great anticipation to working with your children and each of you as together we strive to do our best to prepare the children of the Potomac community.

 

Sincerely,

 

John P. Rouse

John P. Rouse, Principal





















Getting Ready for the New School Year- Virtual Q&A Session Scheduled for August 11th at 7:00
The first day of school at Potomac School District #11 for the 2020-21 school year will be August 26th. As you are aware, these are unusual times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the month of June, the administration, staff members, and school board members, spend a great deal of time developing some policies and procedures that will provide the framework and guidance for us as we prepare for the opening of our new school year. At this point in time, most of the decisions regarding the reopening of schools have been left up to local school boards working within some parameters from the governor's office and the public health department. The governor recently issued a directive requiring the wearing of face masks in public settings. At this time, this directive does not apply to schools.
We are planning to begin our school year with our regular classroom instruction in place. We will be practicing social distancing to the extent possible in our school facilities and at school functions. There will be some adjustments in how we provide our meals in the cafeteria and how we provide for library and recess times to allow us to spread our students out.
Some of the steps we will take to provide a safe environment for our students and staff members will include:
- checking the temperature of students, staff members, and visitors when they enter the building using non-contact thermometers;
- providing frequent opportunities for students to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer when appropriate;
- adjusting hallway traffic flows to avoid crowding;
- restricting access to some playground equipment that does not allow for social distancing and/or frequent cleaning;
- reducing or eliminating the sharing our classroom supplies (ie- scissors, pencils, pens, and computers); and
- providing for daily cleaning and sanitizing of of classrooms and frequently touched surfaces.
We are still awaiting updated information regarding athletic events and other larger group gatherings from the appropriate organizations and agencies.
For those families who need to keep their children at home rather than send them to school due to health concerns for the student or a family member, provisions will be made to allow the opportunity for the student's learning to continue at home. These situations will be addressed on an individual basis upon request from the family. We believe that our flexibility and our small class sizes allow us to serve the needs of all students in the Potomac school district.
Should you have questions regarding how the school can address any special needs of your child, please contact John P. Rouse, principal, anytime at jrouse@potomacschoolmontana.us or call 406 244-5581 extension 201 beginning August 3rd.
NOTE: On August 11th at 7:00 PM there will be a virtual Question & Answer Session for parents regarding the reopening of the school year. During the session, the principal, Mr. Rouse, will review the steps the school will be taking to provide safe learning environment for students and staff.
This will be a Webex meeting. You may email jrouse@potomacschoolmontana.us and request access to the meeting prior to 6:00 PM on August 11th.

Potomac School District's Return-to-School Plan

posted Aug 11, 2020, 3:19 PM by John Rouse

August 11, 2020

Our first day of school is Wednesday, August 26th.  This school year is obviously going to be a different type of year because of the impact that the Covid-19 virus is having.  We have been working over the summer to be prepared for whatever conditions might exist when school opens.  We have prepared a Return-to-School Plan.  We have emailed out copies of that plan to those parents/guardians for whom we have email addresses. The Plan and associated documents have also been posted on our webpage.

 

The Plan provides some detail as to the precautions we will be taking at school to create and maintain a healthy environment for students and staff members.  As noted in the plan, wearing face coverings in the classrooms is optional for both students and staff members; however, all adults (staff members, volunteers, and visitor) must wear face coverings anytime they are inside of school district buildings and the community center, except for staff members while they are in their work area—classrooms, offices, or kitchen.

 

While we are looking forward to the return of our students on the 26th, we understand that some students will need to remain home until the conditions at school are such that families feel safe sending their students to school.  In the packet of materials that were emailed out was an Opt-Out Form.  This form needs to be completed and returned by the parent/guardian for any student(s) who will not be returning to the classroom on August 26th. By completing this form, the parent/guardian is indicating their intention of keeping their student(s) home from school until the end of the first quarter of school (October 22nd).  The Opt-Out Form will need to be resubmitted at the beginning of each quarter. A copy of the Opt-Out form is on the school district’s webpage as well.

 

From the initial surveys that were sent to parents, it appears that only about ten students will be remaining at home when school opens.  There were nine students whose parents indicated that they were still undecided about their students returning to the classrooms. For those students whose parents submitted the Opt-Out of In-Class Instruction Forms, we will be providing live streaming of the classroom instruction as it is taking place at school.

 

Also, in the packet and on the webpage is a Health Screening and Liability Waiver Form that needs to be reviewed, signed, and returned to this school.  This form is an acknowledgement that the school will be conducting temperature screening of students, staff members, volunteers and visitors.  Our hope is to keep our school open for our students. We will utilize social distancing as much as possible in our facilities and stress good personal hygiene including handwashing, appropriate use of hand sanitizers, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently contacted surfaces. A critical step in this process will be for every parent/guardian to conduct a quick Health Assessment on their student(s) before sending them to school. An easy-to-use Daily Health Assessment is also available in the information that was included in the email documents and on the webpage.

Thanks for your patience and understanding during these unusual circumstances.

Getting Ready for the New School Year

posted Jul 16, 2020, 12:46 PM by John Rouse


The first day of school at Potomac School District #11 for the 2020-21 school year will be August 26th. As you are aware, these are unusual times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the month of June, the administration, staff members, and school board members, spend a great deal of time developing some policies and procedures that will provide the framework and guidance for us as we prepare for the opening of our new school year. At this point in time, most of the decisions regarding the reopening of schools have been left up to local school boards working within some parameters from the governor's office and the public health department. The governor recently issued a directive requiring the wearing of face masks in public settings. At this time, this directive does not apply to schools.
We are planning to begin our school year with our regular classroom instruction in place. We will be practicing social distancing to the extent possible in our school facilities and at school functions. There will be some adjustments in how we provide our meals in the cafeteria and how we provide for library and recess times to allow us to spread our students out.
Some of the steps we will take to provide a safe environment for our students and staff members will include:
  • checking the temperature of students, staff members, and visitors when they enter the building using non-contact thermometers;
  • providing frequent opportunities for students to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer when appropriate;
  • adjusting hallway traffic flows to avoid crowding;
  • restricting access to some playground equipment that does not allow for social distancing and/or frequent cleaning;
  • reducing or eliminating the sharing our classroom supplies (ie- scissors, pencils, pens, and computers); and
  • providing for daily cleaning and sanitizing of of classrooms and frequently touched surfaces.
We are still awaiting updated information regarding athletic events and other larger group gatherings from the appropriate organizations and agencies.
For those families who need to keep their children at home rather than send them to school due to health concerns for the student or a family member, provisions will be made to allow the opportunity for the student's learning to continue at home. These situations will be addressed on an individual basis upon request from the family. We believe that our flexibility and our small class sizes allow us to serve the needs of all students in the Potomac school district.
Should you have questions regarding how the school can address any special needs of your child, please contact John P. Rouse, principal, anytime at jrouse@potomacschoolmontana.us or call 406 244-5581 extension 201 beginning August 3rd.

The School Calendar for the 2020-21 School Year Was Modified by the Board

posted Apr 20, 2020, 3:20 PM by John Rouse   [ updated Apr 21, 2020, 9:12 AM ]

The Board of Trustees took action during their April board meeting to revise the previously approved 2020-21 school calendar to reflect the scheduled spring break week that matches the March 15-19, 2021 spring break as shown in the MCPS school calendar. In order to accommodate this change the break that was scheduled in the original calendar around Easter weekend has been removed and two additional days were added to the end of the calendar in June.  Under the newly revised calendar for 2020-21, the last day of school for students will be June 10th.

Governor Bullock extended the Public School Closure Until April 24th

posted Apr 7, 2020, 1:48 PM by John Rouse   [ updated Aug 10, 2020, 5:06 PM ]

Governor Steve Bullock just announced at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2020 that he is extending the Stay-At-Home order and the Closure of Public Schools for the state of Montana until April 24th.

He also encouraged all Montanas to wear cloth face masks when you go out into public places. Also continue washing your hands and utilizing social distancing

eBooks Available

posted Apr 6, 2020, 11:16 AM by John Rouse

Parents,
Although the public library is not allowing anyone to check out or return library books during the virus pandemic, you or your child can access eBooks online through two easy-to-use apps--Overdrive and Libby. You must have a Missoula Public School library card to check out and read books from these sites.  You may contact John Rouse at the school at 244-5581 or jrouse@potomacschoolmontana.us, if you would like him to look up your child's library card number.

Thanks.
John Rouse, principal

Thank you to Parents

posted Apr 6, 2020, 7:31 AM by John Rouse   [ updated Apr 6, 2020, 7:31 AM ]


Potomac School Parents,
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your hard work and patience during this time of our school closure. I know that for many people--adults and children--this is a stressful period. I am hearing from our teachers that most of our students are doing well with their school work at home, and we recognize that this is because you are taking your role as parent seriously by creating at learning atmosphere at home that gives your child the structure and guidance he or she needs to continue learning during these unusual times.

Most teachers are creating lessons that take advantage of the many resources that are available to us including Youtube videos created by the teachers. These video segments allow our students to feel like they are still connected to their teachers and their classes. Also most of our teachers are providing the entire week's worth of lessons early in the week, so students can pace their work throughout the week. Please help your child with the pacing of the work, so he or she does not get overwhelmed or fall behind. Finally do not hesitate to contact your child's teachers if the student or you have any questions.

Thanks again.

John Rouse
Principal

Ms. Olson's Class - Website

posted Mar 27, 2020, 5:49 PM by John Rouse

Ms. Olson has created a class web site that is accessible by her students' parents.  Please see the link below:


March 27th Potomac School Closure Update--The governor extended the school closure until April 10th

posted Mar 27, 2020, 1:03 PM by John Rouse

Governor Bullock has extended the school closures in Montana until April 10th. We will continue offering instruction through distance learning.  A variety of different online programs are being used by our teachers to provide our students will the best instruction possible under the circumstances.  You or your student should be receiving regular communications from his or her teachers either through e-mail, telephone, or papers sent home with the meal deliveries at the bus stops.  If you are not receiving these communications, email the teacher or contact me at jrouse@potomacschoolmontana.us.

Parents- Please continue providing a routine structure at home for your children that includes set times during the day for them to complete their schoolwork.  We strongly encourage your children to read at least 40 minutes a day in addition to that required for their assignments.  Also, there our art activities being offered by our art teacher, Asha MacDonald.  See "Art with Asha" on Youtube.

Istation is a program that our teachers use in both math and reading.  Your children are familiar with the program and know how to use it.  Please allow them to access this program.  Istation has added a new component called Home-to-School Connection that will allow your child to continue progressing through the Istation activities and assessments.  Plus, Istation’s Parent Portal offers online access to supplemental home activities and skill-building lessons that a parent can go over with their child and includes printable materials for use at home. Parents can also track progress with personalized data profiles. The Parent Portal can be accessed on any device with a browser, such as a smartphone, tablet, or PC.

In order for the program to accurately determine the level at which your child needs to be working, it is important to have accurate assessment data.  Please do not assist your child, when he or she is taking an Istation assessment.  The link to begin access to Istation's home to school program is below.  You will be asked to load the Isation app on your device.  It should work fine on the school's Chromebooks or Ipads.

IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION FOR POTOMAC SCHOOL PARENTS...PLEASE READ

posted Mar 23, 2020, 3:27 PM by John Rouse

IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION FOR POTOMAC SCHOOL PARENTS...PLEASE READ

 

Potomac School Parents,

As we are continuing through this period of some degree of uncertainty resulting from the virus outbreak, our staff members have been working hard to find the best ways to continue to serve the educational needs of our students. This letter is to outline what you can expect from our teachers during the period of school closure.  Although the governor initially closed schools until March 27th, one of his recent communications used language that implies that the closure will “likely” extend beyond the 27th of March. We anticipate that the closure will extend longer.

 

Our teachers are committed to serving their students to the greatest extent possible given the circumstances.  The manner in which lessons, instruction, and follow-up support will be offered to the students varies depending upon the grade level of your child and the courses he or she is taking. Teachers will use the email addresses that we have on file to communicate directly with parents during this time.  Each of your child’s teachers will be contacting you by email. These emails will contain important information regarding the tasks, assignments, and activities your child will be expected to complete.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your child to continue to complete these assignments. If your child struggles or needs additional support, your child’s teacher will be available for support. If your child does not attempt to continue to learn during this time period, he or she will likely fall behind in terms of student achievement.  These activities are not suggestions for your child, they are, in fact, regular assignments that are expected to be completed by the student.  Each teacher will develop a method for assessing the degree to which each student is successfully completing these assignments, and that assessment will be used to determine the student's progress.

 

On Wednesday, March 25th,  from 7am to 7pm, Mr. Rouse will be available at the main building of the school.  During this time, students and/or parents will be allowed to enter the building to collect textbooks and supplies that the student needs. 

 

Our teachers are taking advantage of technology to provide the best activities possible for their students.  We will be using programs like Google Classroom, Khan Academy, Istation, and the online portions of our English Language Arts program to provide interesting and challenging lessons.  Because for many of our students having access to some type of device-- desktop computer, Chromebook, iPad, or smartphone will be important, we are allowing families to check out Chromebooks or iPads from our school (one unit per family).  

 

Mr. Rouse will be available Wednesday, March 25th, 7am to 7pm to allow a parent to sign a “Consent To Use” document and pick up the device/charging cord.  Mr. Rouse will facilitate this process in order to respect social distancing and to limit the numbers of people in the building.  Please come to the front entrance of the main building (West side of the building).  Please park your vehicle only on the side of the street closest to the school to allow traffic to continue to flow on Potomac Road. During the time of the school closure, students may drop off any school work for their respective teachers by simply dropping their work in the library book Drop Box located at the school library building.  Please be sure the student’s name is on the materials, and that they are bundled together with a rubber band.  Do not put technology equipment at the drop box.  Simply keep the equipment until we reopen the school.

 

Because of the dedication of our staff members, your child can expect opportunities during this time period to speak directly with his or her teacher either via the computer or directly over the phone during normal school hours. Please allow your child time to talk with his or her teacher when contacted by phone or by device.  It is important to maintain personal contact with each student to provide the child with a sense of security in knowing that his or her teacher is there. 

 

Because the school facilities will be closed during this time, if you have questions please do not hesitate to call Mr. Rouse at 406 540-2013. 

 

Thanks,

 

John P. Rouse, Principal

 

January 20th is a school holiday

posted Jan 17, 2020, 2:12 PM by John Rouse

Potomac School District #11 is closed on Monday, January 20th, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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