MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools are preparing for a return to the classroom in less than two weeks.
Child care providers say they're also ready to step in and care for kids too.
"Montana has historically been experiencing a child care shortage for many years. It's an issue that most working parents, and certainly our chamber of commerce are very aware of in our community," said Grace Decker with United Way of Missoula County.
That's why child care providers are collaborating with Missoula County Public Schools and the Missoula City-County Health Department to make sure there are care options available come fall.
"Those changes to our school schedule are not easy and school's going to look a lot different," said MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson.
Watson outlined the block schedule and safety protocols in a press conference on Friday.
"We're committed to following through with those changes, because we believe it's important, and it's a safe way to restart school," Watson said.
Watson says so far, about 10% of families have chosen to stick with remote learning. MCPS is entering a phased reopening approach, with remote and in-person options.
The hybrid model means those kids who won't or can't be in school, might have to find somewhere else to go during the day.
"Kids are incredibly resilient, and I think it's easier for them than adults in some ways," said CEO of Missoula Family YMCA Heather Foster.
Between YMCA, Missoula Parks and Rec, and Boys and Girls Club, there will be options for child care fro MCPS students before and after school, and full day, or half day. MCPS says it enrolls about 50% of school-aged kids in Missoula County. Boys and Girls Club will also provide care for those in Lolo and Bonner
The Missoula City-County Health Department says MCPS and these providers will be following all recommended safety, sanitizing and distancing protocols.
For families who can't have their kids in school or in child care there is money available. There is also funding for people who are starting new child care operations amid this crisis.