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MCPS responds to phased reopening of Montana

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 20:35:50-04

MISSOULA — Missoula County Public Schools will hold a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, April 28 to discuss a potential return to classrooms following Go.v Steve Bullock's announcement that a gradual reopening of Montana is beginning.

MCPS expects a final decision to be made by the Board at the public meeting on May 5.

Parents have expressed concerns that it won't be possible to maintain social distancing within school, and that there won't be enough masks for all 9,200 students.

Superintendent Rob Watson also said 14% of the student body is medically vulnerable, but they do miss teaching in person.

"As educators, we're trying to balance that right now. It's very difficult for us," Watson said. "We would much rather be in a live environment with kids, but at the same time we're trying to balance the safety of the students."

Watson said the Board is waiting to decide on graduation until closer to the actual dates but a decision is expected by May 12.

Watson sent a letter to parents and students noting that at their Tuesday, April 28 board meeting trustees will be given a list of items that should be considered as they weigh the decision of whether or not to reopen our schools this spring. For example, social distancing, use of cloth face coverings, and protecting students and staff who are in vulnerable groups, just to name a few of the most critical items.

"We have been collecting many thoughts and questions from staff and community, regarding a decision to reopen or stay closed. We will try and capture all of the thoughts that have been shared in our list of considerations presented to the Board. We believe our Board will use this list in their deliberations. We will also use this list of considerations to develop a reopen plan that could be used this Spring or next Fall. The Board will begin their deliberations at the April 28th meeting and likely make a final decision at a special Board meeting on May 5th," the letter read.

Anyone who is interested in watching that meeting, check out the details for watching via livestream on the MCPS webpage.

Gov. Bullock also issued the following guidelines to school districts when considering graduation ceremonies.

GRADUATION CEREMONIES

  • Provide a live stream of graduation
  • Consider limiting spectator attendance
  • For larger schools, consider grouping graduates or providing multiple ceremonies
  • Follow social distancing between families

"We may well be facing these same issues when school starts. Of the 439 positive cases reported in Montana since we've got our first, only 12 have been age 19 and under. We need to figure out how to best serve our children while the virus is still present in our communities," Gov. Bullock said.

Parents and students are being asked to submit any questions or concerns online. Watson says that the MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring the form "in our continuing response within our school district."