MISSOULA — All Montana school districts are being severely impacted by the COIVD-19 outbreak, not every school system is responding in the same way.
Frenchtown has one high school, one middle school, and one elementary school while Missoula County Public Schools has nine elementary schools alone.
Representatives from both school districts say their teachers have done a wonderful job of adapting to the quick extreme changes to get their classes up and online. However, there still are hurdles to overcome as all Montana schools are closed until April 24 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“One of the big problems is connectivity. Frenchtown does not have as good of internet services as Missoula does," Frenchtown Schools Superintendent Randy Cline said. "There’s not a lot of fiber in the valley.”
Cline says Frenchtown pooled every Chromebook and laptop they could find to loan out to students who needed them. But there still was the problem of getting hard copies to students without access to technology.
“They get homework assignments and we deliver them on our buses. We usually deliver them on Mondays and pick them up on Fridays," said Cline who is also encouraging parents and families of their students to make sure they are keeping up with assignments and to stay in contact with teachers.
MCPS spokeswoman Hatton Littman says one big concern is making sure every student is being accounted for and taken care of, "even on a normal day, we’re always looking for students who may have slipped through the cracks for whatever reason.
Littman, says each school has a tier system involving teachers, counselors, and other staff to assist with any unique or special needs.
“What we feel good about -- and what we rely on is -- we do have systems. We do have ways to follow up with families. We have ways to check in on students, and our schools have set those systems up even in this digital environment.”
Littman added that with the uncertainty at this time surrounding activities such as prom and graduation, she is asking parents to support their students and to maintain a sense of those things that they are able to control.
Representatives of both school districts say they are prepared should online classes continue through the end of the school year.