While we don't know all the details for Missoula school operations this fall, one of the academic changes from the pandemic will continue next school year.
Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) administrators plan to continue the program for grades K-12 because it's worked well for certain students.
"Some students were in the Online Academy because of COVID-related concerns. Some students were in the Online Academy because they just wanted a different format for learning," MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson explained. "They wanted a format that might be a little bit more flexible in terms of how fast or how slow they needed to work through the courses. And so, the Online Academy actually provided a lot of flexibility that we haven't seen before in a traditional school setting."
While studies are showing most students do better when they're learning in class, Watson says the Online Academy is showing it can be a better option for students who are more focused with independent study. He also e says that could be a useful tool as MCPS continues to advance successful graduation for all students.
"The Online Academy just provides another option to keep kids in school and keep kids focused on getting that high school diploma," Watson told MTN News. "So really, I think it's great that we were able to extend that and it probably has a place in our district for years going forward."
Participation in the Missoula Online Academy has dropped from a high of 1,800 students when the year began, as more returned to classrooms. Even so, this week 1360 students were still enrolled in the program.
Click here to learn more about the Missoula Online Academy.
Note: An earlier version of this story had used a number of 200 students enrolled in the Online Academy. MCPS has now clarified that number as reflected above.