MISSOULA — After months of deliberation, Missoula County Public Schools has a finalized plan for their return to school this fall.
During an MCPS meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Trustees voted to restart in-person education in a hybrid model on August 26.
That hybrid model is considered Phase 1 in Superintendent Rob Watson’s multi-phase plan.
Within this model, learning will occur two days per week on site, with the remaining three days per week occurring remotely. Phase 1 also offers families the option to go 100% virtual through the MCPS Online Academy.
If there’s a confirmed COVID-19 case, either staff or student, there could be a short-term school closure.
Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy chimed in during the board meeting. After working with MCPS leaders to develop their plan, Leahy said she believes Phase 1 is the most conservative option.
"I see the model as a way to practice," said Leahy, "So the children, the students, the staff, the teachers, you really learn how school will be different, and some of that is almost muscle memory. Where is six feet? Is my mask on? Don’t gather up at the door, so on and so forth."
The meeting lasted over four hours with 130 online participants. Many teachers and parents who called in during public comment worry about the return to in-person instruction with the risks COVID-19 poses.