At the Missoula County Public Schools board meeting on Tuesday night, trustees approved the transition from the Phase 1 hybrid plan, to Phase 2, with students attending class full time.

Superintendent Rob Watson spoke to KGVO News about the school board’s decision.

“One of the things we proposed is that for second quarter, which starts on November 9, that at our high schools, we would be back to having students in the building five days a week,” said Watson. “Then for our elementary and middle schools, we would start phasing that in a little bit sooner, so starting October 12th we'd be bringing students back four days a week, and our middle schools and our elementary schools, and then by November 9, the middle schools and the elementary schools would also be having students five days a week.”

One of the things we proposed is that for second quarter, which starts on November 9, that at our high schools, we would be back to having students in the building five days a week.

Watson said he realized that the case count for COVID 19 has been rising in Missoula County, and he and the board will remain in close contact with the Missoula City County Health Department.

“We've been working very closely with the county health office as well,” he said. “We're not making any changes to the schedule for another four weeks, so we're still in the hybrid model. We're going to have to continue to get consultation from the Health Department on those increasing numbers, so we're aware that numbers are going up and we'll have to see how that goes over the next four weeks.”

Watson said getting the students back in the classroom has been the goal all along, as long as it’s done safely.

“What we wanted to do was provide our staff and our families some predictability and some consistency with the schedule going forward,” he said. So it was important for me to make sure that that we had a schedule that would be predictable for parents and so that's why we made the proposal and the recommendation to the board.”

Watson acknowledged that last spring and this fall semester have been an anomaly, and that both students and teachers have been waiting for the chance to attend school full time.

“It's definitely what fuels us,” he said. “I think to a teacher, I didn't hear one teacher say, you know, they're not excited about having kids back. It's just an issue of can we do it safely and I think that was their biggest concern.”

See the notes from the school board meeting here.

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