September 3, 2019

Message from Superintendent Moore

The first few days of the 2019/2020 school year went by quickly and smoothly. It was a real treat to tour the District and get to know more of our staff and students. I was able to get a better feel for the culture and climate of many our elementary schools! It was amazing to see our Kindergarten and First grade students moving right into our school routines on day one!

Here are some things that I observed as I traveled to our 21 schools last week:

  • Fall sports in full swing at our high schools and middle schools.
  • Safety drills being practiced already!
  • Kitchen staff well prepared and excited to have the students back.
  • Crossing guards at their duty stations.
  • Administrative Assistants, nurses, aides and paras helping new students and teachers through the first three days!
  • Principals actively teaching and monitoring all aspects of school life!
  • Teepees being erected across the District by our Indian Education staff in preparation of celebrating Native American Week (Sept.23-27).
  • Bus drivers and aides scrambling to get our kiddo safely on and off our buses in a timely manner.
  • Teachers teaching and students learning beginning day one !!!

It was a flurry of activity across the community with plenty of enthusiasm and positive thoughts.
Be blessed and protected in your work with our staff and students in Great Falls Schools this year.

Tom Moore
Superintendent of Schools

photo of bus, driver, and aide with thumbs upphoto of Indian Education staff erecting tippees


Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccination

MMR Information

Measles Preparedness

*While there are no cases of measles in Montana at this time, most health officials believe that it is a possibility given the cases in Washington State.  In order to be prepared to protect our students, our staff and our families in the event that measles develop in our community, please note the following:

  • Measles are very contagious and are easily spread through coughing and sneezing. A measles infected area is contaminated for 2 hours after exposure.  They are more contagious than pertussis and mumps.  One case in a school could lead to everyone in the school being considered to be exposed.
  • Proper immunization is very effective in preventing measles.
  • You should become knowledgeable about your own and family member immunization status because, in accordance with recommendations from the CDC and the Health Department, an individual who is not known to have immunity to measles may be kept home for as long as the disease is circulating in their work place (this could exceed 21 days). According to the CDC, acceptable evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following:
    • Written documentation of past vaccination:
      • One or more doses of measles-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for adults not at high risk, or
      • Two doses of measles-containing vaccine for adults at high risk (including college students in post-high school institutions, healthcare personnel and international travelers)
    • Blood tests that show you are immune to measles
    • Laboratory confirmation that you had measles
    • Birth before 1957 as presumed immune by age

* Measles have not been identified in Montana since 1990, and with continued diligence that trend is hoped to be maintained. However, measles is present in many places across the nation. In 2018, 372 cases of measles were reported from 26 states in the US, with an additional 79 cases reported in 10 states since January 1, 2019. If you are traveling, be aware of local measles risk in the places you intend to visit.

GFPS is asking that all employees know their risk and what immunizations they have had.  If they do not have a current record of their immunizations, here are a few ideas where they can be found:

  • GFPS has student shot records if they graduated 2008-present. Sharon Iszler in Central Reception, 268-6054, can help those employees in getting their records.
  • The City-County Health Department, 454-6950, has some records on file.
  • The School District in which employee attended
  • The College in which the employee attended
  • At the employee’s parent’s house…mom has everything!

MMR VACCINATION PROTOCOL

 If an employee has received the MMR shot and has a copy of the record, the CDC recommends that employees receive a booster of the vaccine.  It is NOT mandatory and the original immunization records from when the employee was a child will suffice.  Employees are requested to submit their MMR vaccination records to Human Resources.  This is not required but is STRONGLY recommended.

  • Submit MMR vaccine records to Human Resources
  • Records will be recorded in computer system
  • Records will then be placed in a sealed envelope in the employee’s personnel file

If you do not have record of receiving the vaccine, it is recommended that you get the two-part series MMR vaccine.  The vaccine is covered 100% if the employee is on the Great Falls Public Schools’ insurance as it is considered preventative.  If the employee carries insurance elsewhere, they will need to find out through their insurance company how it is covered.

MMR Immunizations are offered at:
Alluvion Healthcare 454-6973
Benefis Healthcare 455-5000
Great Falls Clinic 454-2171
Any other medical facilities and/or pharmacies

MMR virus


Safe Schools Online Safety Training $50.00 Card Drawing 

Safe Schools Safe Training

During the months of September through November, Montana School Boards Association invites you to participate in Safe Schools online safety training.  Safe Schools offers online video safety training to all Great Falls Public Schools employees.

Please follow the instructions below to access the video trainings:

Instructions:

  1.   Make sure you are using Google Chrome Browser.
  2.   Go to the Safe Schools Link: http://www.greatfalls.mt.safeschools.com
  3.   Sign-in with your first name_last name
  4.   Password will be your first name_last name
  5.   Click “View More Courses”
  6.   Choose a safety training to view
  7.   Once you have viewed the safety video, please go to the provided Google Doc’s Link https://goo.gl/forms/WmxZXuuAovGasgZw2
  8.   Sign into your google account to fill out a 2 question survey on the training. You will be entered in a $50.00  gift card drawing upon completion of the survey. The drawing will end November 29th with the winners being announced the following week.

High School House Groundbreaking

HS House GroundbreakingGreat Falls, Montana – NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools invites the community to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony of the 42nd High School House! The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 4pm on Thursday, September 5th. The location for this year’s High School House is 1724 4th Ave South. This year marks 22 years of the program and will be the 42nd High School House completed by students from Great Falls High and C. M. Russell High School. This program is made possible by GFPS Career and Technical Education program, NeighborWorks Great Falls and many community supporters through monetary donations and in-kind gifts.

About The High School House Program: NeighborWorks Great Falls was founded in 1980 with a mission to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing and help residents become first-time homebuyers. A primary strategy in that work is collaboration with local partners, and one of the most significant examples of this is the High School House program. Great Falls Public Schools and NeighborWorks joined forces in 1998 to create the program, which provides new homes for residents with low or moderate incomes and gives high school students valuable employment skills. The students provide the labor while NeighborWorks supplies the lot, arranges subcontractors and finances the construction. NeighborWorks works with the homebuyer to get them mortgage-ready with homebuyer education, individual homeownership planning and financial assistance. For more information on the High School House program: https://www.nwgf.org/Highschoolhouse.


Annual Cybersecurity Training

Cybersecurity has become a hot topic for school districts across the nation recently. Last year there were 122 publicly-disclosed cybersecurity incidents affecting 119 K-12 education agencies across 38 states (including Montana). This equates to an an incident reported every three days. There are probably hundreds more that are not reported. Incidents are defined as both cyber attacks and data breaches.

In an effort to educate our staff on the risks of cyber crime, GFPS is instituting an annual cybersecurity training program. On August 26th, all employees who have a GFPS email address will receive an email notification similar to the one following this paragraph. Rest assured this is a legitimate email and staff can click on the link in the email without worry. The link will direct you to a website where you will be able to watch a 15 minute video on your role in internet security, primarily focusing on email phishing attempts. While there may be some unique terms you have not heard of before, this video is designed for non-technical employees and presented in layman’s terms. There will be a short quiz at the end of the video. It is more important that you learn about the topic versus getting every answer correct. Take your time.

Cybersecurity Training

               
We ask that all employees complete this training by end of day October 11th. You will receive reminders throughout the next 7 weeks to complete the training if you have not done so already. We will also work with building administrators and supervisors to reinforce the importance of completing this training on time.

After the training is complete, we will be sending out test phishing emails throughout the year to check what you have learned and retained. If you fail any of these tests, please be aware you will be required to complete a more in-depth video training. Also, understand that GFPS has a number of policies already in place on appropriate use of internet and email resources and violations of those policies could result in disciplinary action.

You can reference the following policies if you would like to learn more:

5450 Employee Electronic Mail and OnLine Services Usage

5450F Staff Computer Acceptable Use and Internet Safety Agreement

5460 Electronic Resources and Social Networking

We hope that all employees take this seriously and understand that everyone has a part in keeping both student and employee protected information secure and private. If you have any concerns, questions or issues with this cybersecurity training, please direct those to:

Tom Hering
Director of Information Technology
Phone: 268-6068
Email: tom_hering@gfps.k12.mt.us


Great Falls High School Dahl Gallery Presents Lyle Omeasoo

On Friday, August 23rd, Blackfeet/Cree artist Lyle Omeasoo will be at the Dahl Gallery to hang his exhibit.  He will return to his hometown, Browning, that evening and will be back in Great Falls Friday, September 6th, for his opening reception.  The reception will feature fry bread, drummers, fancy dancers, and Lyle.  All members of the Blue Spirit of Pitakki drum group are either GFPS students or graduates.  According to statistics, GFPS has the largest population of Native American students in the state behind Browning Public Schools.  It will be a great event.  The show and reception was funded through an Innovation Grant through the GFPS Foundation.

The GFH Art Department is proud to bring Lyle to our community and provide an opportunity for our local performers to be honored.  Great thanks to the GFPS Foundation for making this possible!  More information can be found here.

Lyle Omeasoo Exhibit Poster