MISSOULA — The fall semester is officially underway for Missoula County Public Schools.
With the exception of Seeley Swan High School, MCPS is currently operating in Phase 1 where students can learn remotely through the online academy or they can go partially in-person. Under the hybrid model, no school is held on Mondays.
Superintendent Rob Watson noted the benefits and setbacks of this hybrid model during a school board meeting Tuesday night. He noted the hybrid model has helped in managing confirmed cases of COVID-19 by giving them time to contact trace.
Additionally, with fewer kids in school at a time, it’s easier to social distance and follow protocol.
Some teachers say smaller class sizes have allowed them to work through the curriculum faster than they normally would, which is an unexpected benefit of the hybrid model. However, the model also has its challenges.
Teachers now have to prepare material for in-person instruction and online instruction, doubling their workload. Looking ahead at the next step for MCPS, Watson is all ears.
“One thing I’ve heard loud and clear, not only from staff but from parents I’ve spoken to, is they really want some consistency and predictability around the schedule,” said Watson, “That’s really important to us, but keep in mind that we’re dealing with a pandemic, so as much as we can and we start thinking about the next step for our district, I want to encourage the board to think about being consistent and predictable.”
In-person instruction began almost two weeks ago, but the online academy kicked off on Tuesday. MCPS reports that 1,960 students, roughly 20% of their student population, is utilizing the online academy.