What's Your Beef? Gallatin High Online School Has Epic Failures

Monday Mar. 1st, 2021

According to the School Secretary at Gallatin High School, the school has an online enrollment of just 9%, which is much lower than most other area schools. This leads you to think about why the percentage would be so low in such a large county when the COVID-19 virus has not yet magically disappeared?

There are definitely several things at play. Foremost the politics of the pandemic as a whole and mask-wearing in general. Thanks to the cult of misinformation, many people still claim their lack of belief in the virus is enough to just ignore it. The “if you are scared then stay home / Karen sports mom crowd” has definitely won over the Bozeman School Board of Trustees.

The major issue with this plan is that their first job to keep all of our children safe. Safe from drugs. Safe from school shooters. Safe from false information and science deniers. Safe from disease? You would certainly think so, but as it turns out, maybe not.

A second underlying factor in the Gallatin High Online Fail is the way it was initiated, to begin with. Every classroom has a computer with a camera which can be aimed at the teacher and viewed remotely so the online students could watch the same classes from home as the in-person students.

Unfortunately (for the most part) this was not the case as it was left up to individual teachers on how to handle their online students. Many teachers admittedly do not like the extra burden of having both online and in-person students, so they do not place equal focus on the online students. They have not attempted to make personal connections or relationships with them and too often look at them as an extra responsibility that they have to deal with on top of their already overworked and underappreciated jobs. This way of looking at online students has kept them from feeling like they count and matter.

For a year we now we have watched our children fall behind both academically and emotionally, so two weeks ago we made the tough family decision for our student to return to Gallatin High School full time. Honestly, we didn’t feel like there was much of a choice, as our student was not getting anywhere close to a fair or equal education in the online classes Gallatin High was offering. However, our decision was made assuming the school was going to be keeping their part in the deal and would keep the children safe. Unfortunately, this was not the case. As we witnessed at a walkthrough there is no social distancing in classes and although students do have masks, some were not wearing them properly.

Like many families in Montana, we have a family member with a weakened immune system. We were lucky for the past year. We steered clear of the virus by mostly staying home and keeping socially distant from family and friends, but after only seven days of in-person classes, our student has been exposed to COVID-19 and has been placed in a ten-day quarantine for being exposed by close contact to an infected student or faculty member. There was a three-day gap between when the contact with the infected person took place and when the school district let us know, so in the meantime the students were all living like nothing was the matter, potentially spreading the virus. Now three days in, the recommendation is staying in their room and having no contact with any family members for the remaining seven days of the ten-day quarantine. If you can afford it you get the pleasure of using a personal bathroom and having no contact with anyone.

This is hard for anybody, especially children. What is hard for me as a parent to understand is that if every school’s main job is to keep our children safe so they can get an education in a manner that best suits one’s ability to learn, then the board of trustees has miserably failed the Bozeman community. They just need to know this.

What's Your Beef? submitted by Bozeman Parent of Online Students.