MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) trustees have endorsed a plan to keep students from kindergarten through high school in a "hybrid" learning model through New Years, saying the district faces "an impossible situation" because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the district is wrestling with COVID-19 counts, MCPS administrators say the infection rate is running lower than the community spread.
However, the spike in local cases is causing even more problems having enough staff to cover classes with "close contacts" forcing teachers into quarantine.
The school board approved the plan from administrators and the COVID Task Force on Thursday night to continue using a mix of in-class and remote learning to limit class sizes until the end of the semester on Jan. 22.
"But I think the worst thing that could happen is happening in other schools, where they've run out of staff, and they've had to close altogether," said MCPS trustee Diane Lorenzen.
"Until we get the spread under control our hands are -- we're in a really difficult situation," added trustee Grace Decker.
Trustees did ask administration and the task force to look at possible ways of getting the youngest students, kindergarten through second grade, as well as some "at-risk" students back into class sooner, if ideas can gel by the next board meeting on Dec. 8.