Missoula teachers are buying masks for some students, scrambling to stay ahead of remote, and in class learning, and worrying about the safety of their own kids.
At the same time, they report progress in helping kids learn during the pandemic.
The emotions were close to the surface as the Missoula County Public Schools trustees approved continuing COVID precautions into January.
Teachers told of challenges, from covering when staff are sidelined by a single close contact, buying disposable masks for kids without any, and asking elderly parents or grandparents to help care for their own children.
"It's been taking out like six to twelve teachers and staff. When that happens, it's a mess. I just got back from quarantine also," elementary teacher Tricia Owens said.
"I'm already drowning trying to get remote learning done for my "B" day kids and also kids in quarantine, and kids that are close contacts," said elementary teacher, Shannon Judge.
"It has just put me in a position of putting them at risk which has been super hard for my family," said Cassie Murphy.
"Teachers truly do acknowledge the hardship on families and parents. But we're really concerned about keeping kids and families safe," said Mary Lyndes, elementary instructional coach.
At the same time, teachers and staff also report headway getting the kids to learn despite the challenges, using the smaller class sizes to benefit.
"My kids are making gains that you would not believe because I can get to every kiddo in these smaller class sizes," third grade teacher Angie Palin said.
"They are getting so much done, and not throwing a fit, not being frustrated. I mean they, our staff is exceptional," said Angie Tranel Lewis & Clark elementary secretary.
"I love that you guys are making this decision two months out right now. It's so nice to be able to plan," said elementary school teacher Sarah Lee.
MCPS teachers will be continuing to use a combination of remote, and in class learning until the semester ends January 22nd.