Covid 19 Fall Planning

COVID-19: Fall Planning Update for 2020-2021

Fall Planning Update for 2020-2021

July 6th, 2020

Dear Panther Families, 

As you all know, we have been working diligently to come up with a plan for the fall so that our Panthers might return to campus for their learning. As mentioned in a previous letter, the district has created an A-B-C plan with the flexibility to transition between these three plans as deemed necessary by the most current status of the pandemic in Yellowstone County. 

As we have continued to plan and review the most current recommendations/guidelines from the Governor’s Plan for Reopening Safe and Healthy Schools for Montana as well as the Office of Public Instructions Reopening Montana Schools Guidance we have determined that the best way to ensure the safety of our students on campus is to move back to all self-contained classrooms for the 2020-2021 school year. We hope to resume our departmentalized structure once we have made our way through this pandemic. 

Below is a list of the new self-contained classes and teachers: 

Kindergarten – Mrs. Burns – RM103

First Grade – Ms. Hertel – RM100

Second Grade – Ms. Lee (new to Pioneer this year) -RM105

Third Grade – Ms. Wright – RM104

Fourth/Fifth Grade – Mrs. Rau – RM106

Sixth – Eighth Grade – Mrs. Russell/Mr. Croteau – RM102

If we are able to begin school this year in Plan A, students will remain in the same classroom with the same teacher and with the same students for the length of the day with the exception of recess, lunch, and Physical Education. When traveling to recess, lunch, or PE, classes will be separated into “Pods” containing no more than two classrooms at a time and their recess/lunchtimes will be staggered. 

K-1 will attend recess, lunch and music/PE together

2-3  will attend recess, lunch and music/PE together

4-5 & 6-8 will lunch together but be separated for recess, music, and PE

We are currently working on a Responsive Return to School Planning Guide for the 2020-2021 school year which will highlight the district’s new protocols that will be in place during each plan, and break down what will be expected from staff, students and parents alike. This will be available for your review in early August. 

As a reminder, we respect your role as the primary decision-maker for your child’s health and welfare. The district’s new 1900 policy series, specifically policy 1908, allows parents the ability to opt-out of onsite education for their child while remaining enrolled with Pioneer School. This will allow your child to engage in remote learning in their homes rather than engaging in learning on campus, regardless of which plan we are in. If you know now that your student will not be able to return to campus next year, please fill out the form 1908 F (can be found at and return it to the District Office as soon as possible.  Submitting this form will allow you to keep your child at home but will maintain their enrollment in Pioneer School and we will continue to provide your child with an education while they work from home.

If you have not already done so, please take some time to fill out the Campus Reopening Survey that was sent out via text earlier this afternoon. This survey will help the district to get a better understanding of where our Panther families are in terms of concerns and/or ideas for returning to campus in the Fall and where we can improve to ensure the best learning environment possible for each Panther student during this unprecedented time. 

As always, we love you, we miss you, stay safe. 


Melissa Schnitzmeier

Principal/Superintendent, Pioneer Elementary

Phone: (406) 373-5357