Messages to Parents

  • Message:  June 3, 2020 - 6:45 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Before we share other announcements and information, I do believe it is important to share some thoughts about human rights and our District commitment to equity and safety during these difficult times:  

    Missoula County Public Schools are a place where we value human diversity, oppose discrimination, and where we are willing to listen, learn, and collaborate to improve the human condition for all of our students and families. To this end, we have district policy that commits to the importance of equal access to educational opportunities for all.

    Policy 3210: Equal educational opportunities shall be available for all students without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, creed, physical or mental disability, economic or social conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender nonconformity, or actual or potential marital or parental status.

    As educators, we know the importance of safety and the critical tie to student success.  We know that students can’t learn when they don’t feel safe. In our classrooms and schools, we strive to create a safe environment so that all kids can learn. During times of unrest, frustration and injustice we can all do our part to create that feeling of safety in our local community.  

    We share our commitment with the city, county and University of Montana to make Missoula an inclusive, welcoming and supportive community that values and promotes diversity in all its forms. As educators, we each have an important role to play as advocates for equity. We can commit to listening and learning to impact real change in our practices. We can also commit to acting in solidarity against racism and injustice, because we have seen the tremendous harm created by discrimination, in all its forms.  As a school district, we play a critical role in our community and I believe it is important to share our commitment to creating a safe environment for all.

    Other Announcements:

    I look forward to honoring the graduates of Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel and Willard’s Class of 2020 this Thursday and Friday at Washington Grizzly Stadium. Please view the Link to pre-screening for students, families, and staff that we are sharing with the students and parents. Thank you for joining me in congratulating and celebrating our students and families from all five of our high schools. Graduation is only the first step in becoming a contributing, thriving member of our society and I know we wish them well on their journeys. If you would like to watch the ceremonies, here is information about your options

    MEAL SERVICE CHANGES

    Our last day of meal delivery on bus routes will be Thursday,  June 11th.

    The lunch buses and the drop in centers will have extra meals and EmPower Packs to hand out on Thursday June 11th to tide students over during the weekend.

    Summer Meal service will occur at the following sites June 15th-August 14th:

    • CHIEF CHARLO
    • FRANKLIN
    • LOWELL
    • RUSSELL
    • WILLARD

    All sites are open and serving 8:30-1:00.  There will be no on-site congregating, all meals will be grab and go.  Each bag will contain breakfast and lunch, and pickup locations will be clearly marked.

    SUMMER ENHANCEMENT WEBPAGE 

    The MCPS Teaching & Learning Department has compiled strategies and educational activities that families can use to keep students engaged as we transition from a remote learning atmosphere to summer vacation. Our goal is to provide additional learning opportunities so families and students have some easy-to-implement, summer-inspired activities to keep our students engaged and to develop their love of learning. 

    Summer Enhancement learning activities are organized by grade level for each week of June. They contain a combination of low tech and technology-based options across multiple subject areas, including consideration for students' physical and mental wellness. 

    We hope that parents can partner with children to complete these activities. Some will include learning with devices and technology, while others do not; similar to the student experience during a typical school day. Although some of these resources are already regularly used in school, we hope that students have opportunities to try something new or show their learning in a new way. Visit the Summer Enhancement page to learn more. 

    FAMILY SURVEY ABOUT EXPERIENCES DURING COVID-19

    I would like to encourage all of our families to take this brief, voluntary, and anonymous survey to provide us with your input about experiences during Remote Learning and dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. Click here to take the survey. We will be collecting responses until midnight on Monday, June 15th. If you or a friend would prefer to take a paper version of this survey, we will have paper copies available at all of our schools during pick-up and drop off times. Please ask a secretary for a copy.

    END OF THE YEAR TOWN HALL MEETING 

    I will host one more town hall of this school year on Tuesday, June 9th at 4:00 p.m. Please click this link to join the event or call in to any of these numbers:

    Dial by your location

            +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

            +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

            +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

            +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

            +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

            +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

    Meeting ID: 960 9944 4124

    Password: 541889

    Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/awUmiRyZR

    If you are unable to join live, will share the recording of the town hall on our YouTube channel following the event.

    GREAT ADVICE FROM THE MISSOULA CITY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT ABOUT STAYING HEALTHY IN PHASE 2

    I really appreciate Cindy Farr, MCCHD Incident Commander’s, message on YouTube and Facebook today. Cindy reminds us about COVID-19 prevention behaviors, which are particularly important to continue practicing during Phase Two of the Governor's Directive, which removed travel restrictions and increased group size limits. She provides some practical suggestions for maintaining safety when in groups, as well as a reminder to residents and visitors alike to be familiar with and respect local orders wherever they travel. 

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  May 27, 2020 - 5:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    We have rounded the bend on the end of the school year and many important end of year events are happening across our district. Reverse parades for families and students, returning of library books, scheduling days for students to pick up personal belongings, checking out seniors to prepare them for graduation, and planning for our return to school in the fall are all important activities happening now as I write this letter. 

    I know that you are eager to learn what school might look like in the fall. We will do our best to share with you some contingencies we are planning for by June 12th. We will also have to follow up with you about details over the summer as we monitor the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in Missoula as well as new guidance we expect to receive from the state officials in mid-to-late June.

    Seeley Swan Graduation occurs Sunday afternoon

    I look forward to honoring the graduates of Seeley Swan High School’s Class of 2020 this Sunday. Please view the Link to pre-screening for students, families, and staff that we are sharing with the Seeley community this week. These are the same guidelines that we will follow for our in-town graduation ceremonies for Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel, and Willard on June 4th and 5th. We are still holding June 6th as a weather date.

    The Seeley Swan ceremony will be recorded and live streamed by MCAT for guests that cannot attend the ceremony.

    Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel and Willard graduations on 6/4 and 6/5

    We plan to share the live stream information about the graduations at Washington Grizzly Stadium soon. It will likely include the following options:

    • School websites
    • School Facebook pages
    • MCAT Facebook and Local Live page
    • Abc/Fox SWX Channel 8 in Missoula
    • All ceremonies will be recorded and posted to the MCPS Communications YouTube account after the event

    In my message to families last week, I encouraged help from our community to make our graduation events successful. In order to meet the requirements from the City-County Health Department, we will need the full cooperation of our entire community, which includes refraining from congregating outside Grizzly Stadium on the day of the ceremony.

    Thank you for sharing this sentiment with your friends and neighbors. In the coming days. We are aware that Southgate Mall is hosting a Caps and Cars event to help celebrate graduates with appropriate social distancing on the afternoon of June 4th. 

    High School Athletics and Activities

    Many of our staff and families are eager to know when students will be able to participate in pre-season training and practices. We are working on two phases- indoor and outdoor. We are planning to open up outdoor conditioning sessions in June for high school teams. Detailed information will be shared by each school with their staff and families. We are still determining when it will be safe to restart indoor activities.  We need to verify that we have enough personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies in stock to allow for a safe return to activities inside our schools.

    8th grade promotion

    I realize that our 8th grade students have worked hard to reach this milestone.  I know our Principals are working hard to develop some alternate activities for 8th graders and I appreciate all that the parent groups are doing as well.

    I want to clarify some of the reasons why we decided not to host promotion ceremonies for our 8th grade students this spring.  At all three of our schools, MH, WMS and CSP we have more than 180, 8th grade students.  This would mean that with students and 2 guests and staff, we would be well over the 250 limit imposed by Health Deparment rules for an in-person event.  In order to coordinate an in-person ceremony, either inside or outside, we would have multiple ceremonies for each school.  The idea of coordinating 10 ceremonies (3 for MH, 3 for CPS and 4 for WMS) was too much to plan for with all the time and energy we are spending on the high school ceremonies, which are also a significant milestone in the academic career.  Given the limited capacity of our staff and our budget resources during these difficult times, we had to make a decision to prioritize our energy towards the high school ceremonies.

     I understand the work and dedication that the 8th grade students have gone through to get to this point.  I wish we could have had something in-person, but we just cannot support it with staff, coordination and budget.  We discussed much of this with the middle school principals and we decided as a group to move forward with other plans for 8th graders.

    Our staff are working hard across the district to create agile and resilient response plans for our return to school in the fall. Thank you for your patience as we go through our thoughtful and deliberate process. We will be publishing a survey in June that will allow families to give us feedback on your experiences during remote learning, your student’s academic and social/emotional needs, and your thoughts about returning to school in the fall. I look forward to seeing your responses, all of your input will help us to fine tune plans that support our wide range of students and family needs.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  May 20, 2020 - 3:15 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    This will be my only message for you this week given that we will have a 4-day weekend. In recognition of the Memorial Day Holiday, the MCPS District would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have served or are currently serving our country now in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

    MONTANA MOVING INTO PHASE 2 JUNE 1ST

    Yesterday the Governor announced that our state would move into Phase 2 of the Plan to Reopen the Big Sky on June 1st. While there are some changes to group sizes for gathering outside of the home and capacity in businesses, we are not changing any of our district plans for the end of the year. Pick-up and drop-off schedules for each school have been established and will be communicated by the principal. Please check with your principal if you have any questions.

    MEAL SERVICE DAYS OFF

    There is no meal service occurring on Friday May 22nd or Monday May 25th. The lunch buses and the drop in centers will have extra meals and EmPower Packs to hand out on Thursday May 21st to tide students over during the 4-day weekend.

    GRADUATION CEREMONIES

    Thank you to our Senior families for their continued patience regarding our graduation ceremonies.  We have completed our plans and submitted to the Missoula City-County Health Department.  We received their approval today.  

    For in town high schools (Willard, Big Sky, Sentinel, and Hellgate) we will use Washington Grizzly Stadium, located on the UM campus.  Seeley Swan High School will graduate at Seeley HS.  Using the UM venue allowed us to develop a plan to group the attendees and graduates with separate parking and entrances, which was acceptable to the health department.  This plan will allow us to have an in-person ceremony that achieves the goal of having seniors together to graduate with their classmates and allow for no more than 2 guests per graduate to be present for the ceremony.  We are thankful to President Bodnar, the University of Montana, and the Missoula City-County Health Department for their collaboration and support with this new plan.

    We did explore other venues.  You may have heard last week that we had been offered the Kettlehouse Amphitheater by the owners of Logjam Presents.  We are very thankful for their generosity and support.  This beautiful venue would have worked perfectly for a smaller ceremony, but the Washington Grizzly Stadium is more practical for physical distancing for a larger ceremony.

    Here is some basic information regarding our ceremonies.

    • Seeley Swan HS will graduate in their gym on May 31 at 1pm.  Details regarding the number of guests for each student and the safety protocols will be provided by Principal Palmer in the coming weeks.
    • Willard will graduate at Washington Grizzly stadium on Thursday, June 4 at 4pm.  Each graduate will be allowed to bring no more than 2 guests.  Graduates will receive more information from Principal Ritchlin in the coming weeks.
    • Hellgate, Sentinel and Big Sky will graduate on Friday, June 5, with Saturday saved as a backup day in case of weather delays.  We will plan for our ceremonies to occur on Friday, but please save both days as potential graduation days.  We will use the times advertised at the start of the year.  Hellgate at 9am, Sentinel at Noon and Big Sky at 3pm.  Each graduate will be allowed no more than 2 guests.  Details regarding guest tickets will be provided next week.

    A detailed letter was sent to seniors and their families with more information about these important events.  In allowing these ceremonies, we are asking that all graduates and guests comply with guidelines outlined in the requirements from the Health Department.  In order to meet the requirements, we will need the full cooperation of our entire community, which includes refraining from congregating outside Grizzly Stadium on the day of the ceremony.

    MENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

    I have also attached a Missoula City-County Mental Health & Behavioral Health Resource Guide to this email. If you are seeking help or advice for you or a loved one experiencing mental or behavioral health concerns, it can feel daunting to know where to turn. This Resource Guide is a tool for you to find the right care quickly, based on the type of support you need and how urgently you need to talk to someone. I want to thank our partners at MCCHD and the entire community of mental health providers for supporting our community during this stressful time.

    Thanks again for reading all these updates and keeping up with all the latest information.  Please enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  May 15, 2020- 2:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    As we wrap up another productive week of remote learning, I am happy to share with you some updates about high school grading agreements, meal service schedules, and graduation.

    GRADING

    Last week we rolled out our grading information for K-8th grade students. Today I’d like to share the agreements that resulted from thoughtful and collaborative discussion with our high school educators.

    High School grading information:

    • All students will be given a letter grade. In all cases, Quarter 3 grades will be considered more than Quarter 4 grades. If the student is concerned about their letter grade, they will get the option to choose a “Pass” for their semester grade. This grade would not be calculated in the GPA, the student will receive credit for completing the course. 
      • IB/AP/Dual Enrollment Courses

    Due to restrictions from outside agencies, AP, Dual Enrollment, or IB courses will continue with traditional grading, unless another option is provided by a teacher or external agency.

    • If the student was failing a course prior to March 13th, and they are still failing the course at the end of the semester, the student will receive a “No Credit” for the course. This grade would not be calculated in the GPA and the student will not receive credit for completing the course. If the course is required for graduation, the student will have to retake the course.
    • Letter grades are calculated into the GPA, Pass Grades are not calculated into the GPA.
    • Student transcripts/grade reports will be mailed home after June 12th.

    MEAL SERVICE DAYS OFF

    May 22nd and May 25th are unscheduled days in our school calendar and there will be no instruction and no meal service occurring on these days.

    There will be no meal service on Friday June 12th. 

    On Thursday June 11th extra meals will be provided to tide students over until Monday, June 15th when summer meal service begins. Our summer meal service will be provided at drop in locations in various schools. We will share more details about locations for meals later this month.

    GRADUATION CEREMONIES

    Thank you for your patience regarding details about our graduation ceremonies.  We are working with our staff and the county health department to come up with ceremonies and celebrations that honor the graduates in the class of 2020 while ensuring safety precautions for all.  We have explored a few different venue options and hope to make a final decision early next week.  I realize that my delay in sharing information only causes you more frustration and uncertainty. Please know that the reason we are waiting to announce a final plan is because working with our city, county, university and business community takes a lot of collaboration and I am willing to allow that to occur to get the right solution for our graduates and their families.

    As we get closer to the end of the year, we understand that students and parents might be thinking about returning materials to the school and picking up any items that have been left in the classroom or locker.  In the coming weeks, your school Principal will share information with you regarding our pick-up and drop-off procedures, as well as other end-of-year procedures.  The procedures are designed to keep everyone safe.  Thanks for your cooperation.

    I also want to commit to you that we will share as much information as we can about what to expect when students return to school in the fall. We are working with committees of staff from across our district, our health department, the city, the county, and UM to ensure that our protocols make for a productive and healthy learning environment. We will likely wait until the last week of school in June to share this information as the recommendations and plans are evolving.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  May 8, 2020 - 4:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    As I shared with you last week, we have been engaged in thoughtful work across the district as we considered the best way to acknowledge student skills and content knowledge while at the same time not penalizing a student for the impacts of remote learning and the global COVID-19 pandemic. I can share the following agreements with you now and I will follow up with more information as needed next week. Please share your questions about this information directly with your Principal.

    Grading and Proficiency

    In our elementary schools, we will focus on sharing the priority standards in English Language Arts and Math that our schools focused on for spring instruction with parents in June. We will not be sending home report cards.

    In our middle schools, students who earned a 60%-100% in a course will receive a “Pass” grade for the semester. This grade would not be calculated in the grade point average (GPA), the student will receive credit for completing the course.

    Students who earned a 59% or lower in a course will receive a “No Grade.”  The “No Grade” will not be calculated into GPA. 

    Detailed information about high school grading procedures will be released next week.

    Last day of new instruction and unscheduled days in May

    Friday, May 29th will be the last day of new instruction for our PK-11th grade students. Thursday May 21st will be the last day of new instruction for our seniors. 

    We will spend the time from June 1st - June 11th on review and provide an opportunity for some students to receive interventions and enrichments from their classroom teacher.  Seniors will receive this support the week of May 26th to stay on track for graduation.

    May 22nd and May 25th are unscheduled days and there will be no instruction occurring over this long weekend. We encourage our staff and our families to take a break from screen time and rest and recharge.

    End of year plans at each school

    We are planning to welcome students and their families back into buildings in very structured ways between June 4th and June 11th to return district materials (textbooks, novels, laptops, etc.) and allow students to pick up their personal belongings. Seniors will be allowed back into buildings on an earlier schedule.

    Your principal will share details about your school’s schedule between May 15th-29th.

    Graduation Ceremonies

    Thank you for your patience regarding our graduation ceremonies.  We know the importance of these ceremonies for our students and families.  We are interested in planning meaningful events that maintain the personal safety of students, staff and guests.  Thank you for the many suggestions and comments regarding graduation.  We were waiting for official guidance from our local health department, specifically regarding crowd size and other restrictions.

    Today, the Missoula City/County Health Department announced requirements for graduation ceremonies. We believe we could plan in-person ceremonies that abide by the requirements in the health order.  However, the ceremonies will look much different than graduations that we have all experienced in the past.  A detailed letter was sent to seniors and their parents today with more information about the new requirements.

    Promotion Ceremonies

    Each of our middle schools is planning an online Promotion video that will be released the week of June 8th to celebrate the accomplishments of our 8th grade students. They will also share plans for how 8th grade students can collect their certificates and programs during school-wide pick up days in June.

    Face coverings required in every MCPS building

    This week I announced my expectation that all staff wear a face covering in our buildings when they are in common areas and when they interact with people.  For parents or students who may be visiting our buildings, please plan to wear your own face covering if possible.  We will have a limited number of disposable masks available in each building.

    I have included a few important announcements at the bottom of my letter for your information.

    Thanks for your continued support of your students and patience with this process.

    Sincerely, 

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent

    Elementary Remote Flier

    Town Hall that occured this week

    If you are interested in seeing the town hall I conducted with parents on Monday night, you can view it by clicking on this link for the MCAT broadcast or you can view it from the livestream that is posted on our MCPS Facebook page.

    Board Meeting on Tuesday May 12th

    Our board will meet in a regular board meeting on Tuesday May 12th at 6pm. You can see that agenda on our website. It will include options for joining the live Zoom meeting via computer or phone.

    If you would like to watch the livestream of the board meeting, it will be posted on the MCPS Facebook page.

    Kindergarten Registration is still open

    All nine of our elementary schools are still receiving registrations for kindergarten. If you have a child or if you know a neighborhood family that has a child that will be 5 on or before September 10, 2020, be sure to let them know they can still register even though schools are closed. Families have options for how to register:

    1. Online at mcpsmt.org
    2. Mail completed forms to the school along with required documents
    3. Email completed forms to the school secretary along with required documents
    4. Drop completed forms and required documents in the school’s homework drop box
    5. If families are having trouble, they can also call the school secretary who will arrange to meet the family at the school or mail the forms to their home.

    Message:  May 1, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    After deliberation and consideration of public input, our MCPS Board of Trustees voted today to keep our schools on our remote learning plan through the remainder of the school year. If you are interested in some of the key issues that informed this decision, I have shared them at the bottom of this letter.

    Our school campuses, office buildings, and playgrounds will remain closed until further notice.

    Between May 4th and May 13th, we will work with administrators and our educators to finalize our grading information so that we can inform our families. In addition, I have asked our response team to start working on an “end-of-year” plan that includes operational topics such as, return of materials, locker/desk cleanout and other tasks we will need to accomplish in a safe manner as we think about wrapping up the end of the year.

    I understand that today's decision to remain on remote learning brings relief to some and anxiety for others. The good news is that we now have the ability to plan out the next six weeks of our school year with an understanding that we will remain in our remote learning mode of instruction and operations. 

    Finally, I value the input of our parent community. If you are interested in joining the parents on my Superintendent’s Advisory Council for our final meeting, we will be hosting a virtual Town Hall on Monday, May 4th at 4pm. I have a few things to discuss: 

    • Remote learning
    • Year-end plans
    • Summer programming
    • Reopening school plans

    Please click this link if you would like to join that meeting and see below for detailed joining information.  We will also attempt to share a livestream of this event or a recording after the fact on our Facebook page.

    With gratitude,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent

    Key issues that we considered in the decision to remain on remote learning through the end of the school year.  Please keep in mind that we will need to work on plans to address these considerations no matter when we return to school.

    • The risk of transmitting the coronavirus within our school buildings
    • The short term lack of available personal protective equipment (PPE) for students and staff
    • The short term lack of supplies that we can use to conduct health screenings for all students in an efficient manner
    • The short term lack of nurses/medical staff in each building to conduct screening
    • The current requirements regarding group size and the possibility of a partial day schedule with only a few weeks remaining in the school year
    • The numbers of students and staff who would be unable to return to school due to personal medical conditions that may place them in a high-risk group
    • The possibility of a confirmed COVID-19 case in one of our schools, which would cause 3-5 day closures in a period with only a few weeks left in the school year
    • The needs of students who are struggling in a remote learning environment and the likelihood that students will have more challenges when some families return to work in May, which may require us to adapt our remote learning support
    • Our need to plan for safety and staff training for the summer and fall


    Join MCPS Parent Town Hall Zoom Meeting

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    Meeting ID: 926 9284 1262

    Password: 7fcvKf

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    Message:  April 24, 2020 - 4:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    This has been an exceptional week within a 6-week period of uncertainty, stress, and collaboration as our community responds to COVID-19. I am continually grateful for the patience and hard work of our students, staff, and families.

    On Wednesday, April 22, Governor Bullock announced his Phased Reopen Plan.  Within the plan he said that schools could reopen as early as May 7.  He also reiterated that the decision to reopen or stay in remote learning is a decision for the locally elected Board of Trustees.  

    Yesterday I shared the following statement with our staff:

    My recommendation to the Board of Trustees will be to remain closed for the rest of the school year, based on the safety of our students, staff and our community.  I will also recommend that we continue our efforts in remote learning for the remainder of the school year.

    While I do not speak for our Board members, I do know that they will take their time to discuss the pros and cons of this important decision.  I also know that they consistently consider what is best for students, staff and community in every decision.  Finally, they hold student safety as a top priority in every decision.  

    Our board will meet in a regular board meeting on Tuesday April 28 at 6pm to discuss this important issue.  There will be no decisions made at the April 28 meeting.  It is simply a time for them to discuss considerations and planning that would need to happen, whether we open this spring or next fall.  You can see that agenda on our website.

    If you would like to watch the livestream of the board meeting, please click this link https://stream.meet.google.com/stream/e68cbaef-e295-4988-be7d-2ff8ff350560 or click on the livestream posted on https://www.facebook.com/missoulacountypublicschools/

    On Friday, May 1st at Noon, our Board called a special meeting to continue the discussion and make a final decision about reopening or continuing with remote learning for the remainder of this school year.  That agenda and live stream link will be posted on our website next week.

    If you would like to provide additional public comment for consideration, please use publiccomment@mcps.k12.mt.us  If you have already submitted your thoughts on the google form, you don’t need to go back and resubmit on the public comment email. Public comment will be shared with the Board before any decisions are made.

    I know that the main topic on everyone’s mind is whether or not we will return to school in May. For that reason, I will keep this message brief. If you are curious about other updates, please see the information below. 

    Thank you,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent

    Surveys on students who have family members at high risk at home

    On Wednesday, we told families that we planned to send them a survey Wednesday night asking about members of their household who may be at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. We have decided as a leadership team not to send that survey, and not to survey staff about their own high risk for these reasons:

    • The sensitive nature of health information being conveyed in a survey
    • We have received an overwhelming amount of feedback on our existing Google Form that conveys a large percentage of family members who have a high risk person in their household. 
    • We have pulled statistics about the percentages of residents with those high risk factors in our county population. We are using that data to inform our decision making and planning as we move forward.

    Emergency Child Care Options 

    Boys & Girls Club of Missoula County is providing Emergency Childcare for families that work in essential function industries, as defined by Governor Bullock's shelter-in-place directive. While we encourage everyone who can to keep their child at home, we recognize this might not be possible for many of our community's caregivers. As such, this program provides our community's essential function workers with a safe, positive, and healthy place for their child every day. Boys & Girls Club of Missoula County has been certified by the Missoula City-County Health Department as an Emergency Childcare facility. This childcare program is open to all youth, ages 5-12, who are children of our essential function employees. Breakfast, lunch, and daily snacks are provided by Missoula County Public Schools and the Missoula Food Bank.

    Families can visit our website at www.bgcmissoula.org to learn more and register their child today. Questions can be directed to our Program Manager at john@bgcmissoulacounty.org or 406-214-0140.

    The Missoula Family YMCA is now offering emergency childcare to essential service workers as defined by Governor Bullock’s shelter-in-place directive released on March 26. Group sizes consist of eight children or fewer and two Y staff members.

    C.M. Russell Site—Grades K–6

    Our C.M. Russell site is located at 3216 S. Russell St. This site is licensed and provides care to children of first responders and medical workers. Care offered Monday–Friday from 6:45 a.m.–6:00 p.m. for children currently enrolled in MCPS in grades K–6. Breakfast and lunch are included daily.

    YMCA Site #1—Grades K–6

    Our first YMCA site is located in the gym at 3000 S. Russell St. This site provides care to elementary-children of all other essential service workers as defined by Governor Bullock’s shelter-in-place directive. Care offered Monday–Friday from 7:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. for children in grades K–6. Breakfast and lunch are included daily.

    YMCA Site #2—Ages 0–5

    Our second YMCA site is located in the Child Watch Center at 3000 S. Russell St. This site provides

    care to children of all  essential service workers as defined by Governor Bullock’s shelter-in-place directive. Care offered Monday–Friday from 6:45 a.m.–6:00 p.m. for children ages 0–5. Breakfast and lunch are included daily.

    Requirements

    Students must meet the following criteria to enroll:

    • Have a parent or guardian who is an essential service employee as defined by Governor Bullock’s shelter-in-place directive.
    • Be currently enrolled in the MCPS district.

    Health Requirements

    • Families who have traveled out of state, internationally, and/or had out-of-state or international visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days before attending the program.
    • Children with fevers of 99.8+ and/or with a consistent cough must be removed from the program. Families must do one of two things before their child returns:
      • 7 days with no symptoms (fever and/or cough) without the use of medication OR
      • A doctor’s note approving the child’s return to the program

    Registration

    Advanced registration is required. Emergency care is offered by the week. Thanks to generous donors, we are able to offer this special childcare program at $112 per child per week. Financial assistance available. Best Beginnings accepted at C.M. Russell site.

    Click here to register!

    NOTE: Staff will contact you within 24 hours to complete your registration.


    Message:  April 22, 2020 - 12:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Governor Bullock just concluded a press conference announcing his gradual plan to reopen Montana.

    He announced a statewide school closure that will extend to Thursday May 7th and he left the decision to remain closed or to reopen to the local decision makers, specifically the locally elected Board of Trustees. In addition, the Governor confirmed that whatever our board decides, we will not risk the loss of state funding.

    At our next board meeting on Tuesday, April 28th, we will present our Trustees with 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.

    If you are interested in watching that meeting, check out the details for watching via livestream on our webpage. This information will be posted on Friday April 24th when the agenda is posted. Your best bet for live streaming without a delay will be to check the MCPS Facebook page where we will repost the MCAT livestream of the meeting.

    GRADUATION CEREMONIES 

    We will also present Trustees with contingency plans related to our High School graduation ceremonies.  We will ask Trustees to make a final decision regarding graduation at the May 12th board meeting. As our ceremonies do not occur until the first week of June, we believe it is prudent to wait as long as we can before a final decision is made. Our contingency plans will rely heavily on the guidance of our Missoula City-County Health Department and restrictions regarding crowd size or social distancing.  Receiving their guidance will help us plan a ceremony that honors our graduates, while at the same time protects student safety.

    SURVEY

    Later tonight, we will email and text you with a request for parents to complete a survey to help us measure the numbers of students who have a family member at home who is in a high risk category. The data we receive will help us to better understand the numbers of students who don’t have a health condition themselves, but may need to stay home because a member of their family is at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contracted COVID-19. If you can respond to that survey by 5pm on Monday, April 27th, we would sincerely appreciate your help.

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  April 17, 2020 - 4:30 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    As we conclude the end of a month of remote learning, I want to commend our students and our parents for your engagement, your diligence, your problem-solving, your compassion, and your grit.  The teachers have reported that they have seen a lot of engagement from students. Thanks for all you are doing to help with the remote learning lessons. 

    CLOTH FACE COVERINGS

    On April 3, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that all people over the age of two years old wear a cotton face covering or other mouth and nose covering during the community spread of COVID-19. 

    A cotton face covering provides minimal protection to the person wearing the covering. The real focus is on protecting other people nearby from exposure to COVID-19 in case you may be carrying the disease. It is possible that people, who have COVID-19, will spread the virus while not having symptoms of COVID-19. Think of a cotton face covering as not so much PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) but rather “Community Protective Equipment”.  If everyone wore a face covering, it would lessen the spread in our community.

    EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURES

    Governor Bullock held a press conference today where he announced his team will be drafting a reopen plan for the state.   The details of that plan will be released early next week. There are no firm dates yet. I know many would like to know if/when we might come back to school.  We will continue to work closely with the Missoula City County Health Department, the Office of Public Instruction and the Governor’s office on understanding how the reopen plan will impact our community and our schools. Keep in mind, the Governor’s current stay-at-home orders are still in effect until April 24 and will likely be extended for at least an additional two weeks.

    CITY/COUNTY VIDEO

    Earlier this week I had the opportunity to join the Mayor and County Commissioner Josh Slotnik on the City/County COVID-19 update.

    ADVISING OUR STUDENTS TO BE CAREFUL WHEN HANGING OUT IN GROUPS

    We have received word from our local health officials that there has been an increase in the number of kids gathering in large groups in parks and other areas.  They have asked that we remind our students about the importance of not gathering during this time, while we are still under the stay-at-home order. Our principals will be sharing this message with our middle and high school students through email.

    Dear Student,

    I have a really important request for you during this time - I need you to honor the social distancing guidelines, especially in our parks and public places. I understand the negative impacts of social distancing and how much you want to spend time with your friends right now.  However, it is not recommended to be gathering in groups right now.  

    The only way that we can continue to protect the lives of everyone in our community is to stay at home and respect the Governor’s orders when we recreate outside. 

     

    • You can still go outside and get exercise.
    • You can still connect with a few friends (no groups larger than 10) outside while maintaining a 6 foot distance and wearing a cloth face covering.

     

    We all need you to be a part of the plan and we need you to avoid congregating in large groups and hanging out too closely to each other in our parks and public spaces.

    Thank you for doing your part to keep Missoula healthy and safe.

    ADVICE FOR FAMILIES ON REMOTE LEARNING

    I know that many of you are overwhelmed with the volume of communication from teachers, principals and the district. I attached a Remote Learning flier for each grade band in the hopes that it can focus you and your student on just how much work to complete each day and each week.

    As the fliers indicate, we understand that in all cases, you will make judgment calls based on the needs of your student and your family.  

    Thanks for reading,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  April 10, 2020 - 3:30 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    Like many of you, I am encouraged by the actions of everyone in our community to stay home and adhere to social distancing guidelines.  It is my hope that these sacrifices are having a significant influence on the spread of the disease. At the same time, I know that all of us are impacted by the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. We may have  family or friends getting tested and all of us are faced with the anxiety of managing work responsibilities and commitments to our own children and families. We have provided lots of advice regarding remote learning in previous emails.  However these simple bullet points may help summarize our thoughts and guidance around remote learning.

    • Health before Homework
    • Family before Frustration
    • Learning before Letter Grades

    CLOTH FACE MASKS

    I urge all of us to follow the guidance from the CDC, the White House, Governor Bullock, and our Missoula City County Health Department and use a cloth face covering when you leave the house. See the links below to view the specific guidance from the CDC. 

    REMOTE LEARNING

    This next week, you will see lessons from your student’s teachers that continue with new concepts and skills. We are still going slow, understanding that it may take twice the amount of time for students to get through content that would have been provided face to face in a classroom.  As the weeks go forward, teachers will also begin to provide more direct feedback to students, including grades on assignments at some grade levels. If you have questions or concerns regarding the remote learning plan, please reach out to your teacher and/or school.

    This week our IT Department sent all parents K-12 a welcome email from Missoula County Public Schools Classroom inviting them to receive summary emails from Google Classroom. This will support parents in keeping up with assignments and deadlines for their students whose teachers use Google Classroom. See the attached letter for an example of what that email looked like.

    If you are struggling to use our Q Parent Portal to check grades and assignments, please look at this document and this website with helpful videos on use of the Q Parent Portal.

    EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURES

    As we mentioned in our last update, schools in Montana are closed until Friday, April 24, 2020.  We have heard that the Governor will likely continue the process of announcing closures for 2-week periods of time, based on the best available advice from public health officials. I realize that this makes it difficult for long term planning. Please do the best you can to continue with your remote learning plans and assume that we will likely be closed past April 24.  We will notify you as soon as we know.

    GRADUATION CEREMONIES

    Yesterday, we received advice from the Office of Public Instruction and the Board of Public Education regarding end-of-year events, like graduation ceremonies.  Here is the guidance we received:

    At this time, national health authorities are stating that social distancing recommendations will be in place at least through May and possibly into the summer. We can expect that even if the Governor’s “Stay At Home” and “School Closure” directives are lifted after April 24th, that social distancing guidelines will still be recommended.

    Therefore, we advise that you plan to continue your distance learning plans through the remainder of this school year and also plan to not hold large-scale in-person graduation ceremonies. We encourage you to postpone graduation ceremonies until later in the year or come up with alternative plans to honor your graduates.

    Based on this advice, we will have further discussions with high school principals and we will be prepared to make a formal decision and announcement early next week regarding our graduation ceremonies scheduled for June 6.  No matter what happens, we will want to find creative ways to celebrate our graduates and I would encourage you to reach out to high school staff and administration, if you have ideas.

    GUIDANCE FOR SENIORS IN THE CLASS OF 2020

    Even in a normal year, the last few months of school are stressful for students and parents, especially our seniors.  We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra level of stress to our senior class. We encourage all seniors to do their best to stay on track and complete their graduation requirements.  However, we also realize that we may need to provide flexibility for students, given the current state of remote learning. We have started to discuss a variety of options with our high school principals and we will be providing more concrete guidance in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, any senior that is experiencing anxiety regarding any class should discuss their concerns with their teacher and/or counselor.

    MONTANA HIGH SCHOOL ASSOCIATION (MHSA)

    As you were probably aware, we were scheduled to hold several large spring sports  tournaments in late May. The MHSA recently discussed the spring sports season. Here is a statement that was released by the MHSA: Resumption of spring activities will depend on our student’s ability to return to in-person instruction by May 4th.  If in-person instruction doesn’t resume by that time, spring activities will be cancelled.

    SCHOOL BOARD

    During this time of closure, our School Board continues to meet and discuss a variety of topics related to the COVID-19 response as well as other District business.  At the next meeting on Tuesday, April 14th, the Board will make some decisions around emergency policies related to COVID-19 and I will be providing an update of our response plan. If you are interested in joining that meeting, check out the details for joining the meeting or simply watching via livestream on our webpage. Your best bet for live streaming without a delay will be to check the MCPS Facebook page where we will repost the MCAT livestream of the meeting.

    MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

    The community has come together to create a list of resources on the community COVID-19 website. Please review the resources yourself and share them with any colleagues, students, and families in need.

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Thank you for your efforts with remote learning.  Please reach out to your teacher or school if you have questions or need help.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  April 7, 2020 - 3:30 p.m.

    Dear Families:

    In accordance with Governor Bullock’s updated set of directives and guidance shared this afternoon in a press conference, Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed through Friday, April 24, 2020.

    All previous closures of MCPS campuses PreK-12, sports practices and driver’s education programs, and all Life Long Learning Center programs and classes will be extended through Friday, April 24, 2020. All MCPS playgrounds will remain closed.

    In addition, the Governor also encouraged all of us to wear a cloth face mask when we leave our homes for essential services like accessing food or going into work if you are an essential services worker. Thank you for doing your part to ensure we stay at home as much as possible, wear cloth face masks in public, and maintain appropriate physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.

    We understand that school closure can be a hardship for our students and families.  We will continue to provide meals to all youth in our community via our elementary school bus stops and drop offs at each of our schools. We will continue to provide remote learning options during the extended school closure.  Please continue to check email and our website for information, we expect to share more information with you on Friday 4/7/20 by 5pm.

    Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Sincerely,

    Hatton Littman

    Director of Communications


    Lines of communication

    As we all get adjusted to our new normal with schools closed, we want to help you plan on a communications schedule so you know when you will get updated information.

    • District level communications will come out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by 3 p.m.
    • School level communications will come out on Tuesdays and Thursdays by 3 p.m.

    All staff will be checking their emails and responding to emails and phone calls as they are able during the week of 3/23/20. Return phone calls may come from a number that says No Caller ID, Unknown, or Blocked because we will not be using our school phones to return calls.

    If you are not getting the emails we are sending to or you have friends that have stated they are not getting the messages, there are a few options:

    1. Check your Junk and Spam folders.
    2. Read the messages on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page.
    3. Log into mcpsmt.parentlink.net to check your delivery preferences for your own account. Make sure that you haven’t opted out of any type of message. Here is a help link that has screen shots to guide you:

    Message:  April 3, 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    I want to extend my deep gratitude to you for a successful week of remote learning and student engagement. I also hope that it reassures you to know that in the last days of March, we served 20,898 meals. This is more meals than we served during the entire summer of 2019. We are working our hardest to take care of students in these exceptional times.

    REMOTE LEARNING

    This next week, you will see lessons from your student’s teachers that start to introduce some new concepts and skills. We are still going slow, understanding that it may take twice the amount of time for students to get through content that would have been provided face to face in a classroom.  As the weeks go forward, teachers will also begin to provide more direct feedback to students. If you have questions or concerns regarding the remote learning plan, please reach out to your teacher and/or school.

    ACT TESTING

    Earlier this week there was news released earlier this week about the state waiving all standardized testing requirements. We know that many of our high school families are concerned about student access to take the ACT test. Today an announcement was made about three dates in October-November of 2020 for members of the class of 2021 to take the ACT test. MCPS will determine which date we will schedule as our free, optional, school-based test day. This will be a paper only test and the scores should be available in time for college application deadlines. If families want to schedule a summer date for their student to complete the test, they certainly can, however the cost will be the family's responsibility.  For more information about scheduling please see ACT.org

    EXTENDED SCHOOL CLOSURES

    As we mentioned in our last update, we feel there is a strong likelihood that the Governor will extend school closures. We will let you know as soon as we learn more. Please continue to plan for remote learning delivery for the foreseeable future.

    Graduation Ceremonies

    Our High School Principals met with our district leadership this week to discuss our options for this year’s graduation ceremonies. We are working on three possible scenarios: 

    1. Continue graduations ceremonies as scheduled if school is in session and group gathering restrictions are lifted
    2. Postpone the ceremonies to a date later this summer
    3. Host a virtual graduation ceremony

    We recognize the significance of the graduation ceremony and the importance of this opportunity for all students.  Ideally, an in-person ceremony would be the best option, but we do need to plan for other options if we are unable to gather as a large group.  We have encouraged principals to talk with their student body leaders for feedback on these options as well as other ideas. We will share updates as soon as we know more.

    Mental Health Resources

    The community has come together to create a list of resources on the community COVID-19 website. Please review the resources yourself and share them with any colleagues, students, and families in need.

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Thank you for your efforts with remote learning.  Please reach out to your teacher or school if you have questions or need help.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  April 1, 2020 - 2:00 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    Governor Steve Bullock has directed the closure of schools through April 10.  With the national news regarding directives for staying at home through April 30, we expect that the Governor’s school closure order will likely be extended past April 10.  On a call yesterday with Superintendents, the Governor stated that he will likely make a determination and announcement next week, Tuesday or Wednesday. We will notify you as soon as we are notified of a closure extension beyond April 10.

    The Governor has also approved our education plan which means he has provided us a waiver for lost days of school.  Now that we have approval, we will likely not have to extend the school year due to the COVID-19 school closures. We were also notified that the state testing, which usually happens in the spring, has been canceled for this year.  Our state received a waiver from the federal education department so that we do not have to complete the state testing this year.

    Managing Stress:

    I want to focus on managing stress and expectations this week. Many of you and your students started engaging in teacher-led lessons this week. Many of you are also still struggling to get online or to make time to support your students through their online learning while juggling working from home and caring for others. 

    As educators, we are always looking for that balance for our students in developing new skills and content, but not overwhelming them with tasks that are above their level.  The same is happening now with our new remote learning system. We don’t want to overwhelm, but also want to keep students engaged.

    We know that online learning exclusively at home presents its own incredible challenge for even the most tech savvy students and families. With this in mind, I want to continue to remind parents that we recognize that the safety and emotional welfare of your children is your top priority at this time.  I speak for your teachers when I say that we share that priority. We know that remote learning activities may not be the most important thing for families right now - and that is ok. If any remote learning activity or expectation is causing undue stress for you or your child, it is ok to stop and try something else.  

    We all know that kids learn best when they are not frustrated.  So please give yourself and your students time to adjust and don’t worry about falling behind.

    Our principals, teachers, specialists and school counselors are all sending out a lot of resources to students and families this week. Here is an example and some great advice from Mr. Rude, our School Counselor at Lowell Elementary, as he and his colleagues talk about the concept of Break Spots and Calming Strategies.

    You can also refer to this resource from the CDC on Caring for Children:Tips to keep children healthy while school’s out.

    MCPS School Playgrounds closed

    We are closing all MCPS school playgrounds to the public until further notice. We need to take this step in alignment with the closing of City of Missoula Parks to keep our community safe and reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Like the Parks and Recreation Department, we understand the importance of physical outdoor activity. Please follow all CDC guidelines and practice social distancing as you enjoy Missoula’s open spaces. 

    Meals

    We have updated a few of our bus stops in the Woodman school area, Desmet school area, and the Blue Mountain Trailer Park. Please click on the big green meals button on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page for more information.

    We are so thankful that we have been able to serve 17,444 meals to our community since this service started on Monday 3/23/30. Please join me in thanking our Food Service staff and share this information with families who may need access to critical nutrition support.


    Picking up medication

    As schools are closed longer than initially planned for, more parents may need to obtain student medications. If you need to pick up medication or medical equipment, please contact Linda Simon, our Nursing Supervisor, at lsimon@mcps.k12.mt.us or  leave a message at 728-2400 ex 1073 and she will arrange to meet you at the school.

    The 2020 Census Information

    Having an accurate population count can help our community in many ways, including federal funding that is directed to our schools.  Which is why we are encouraging everyone to complete the 2020 Census. Don't wait for your official invitation, fill out your Census today at my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.

    • Responding to the Census is quick, easy and safe.
    • Counting everyone in Montana is critical because it determines the state’s share of federal funding over the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another representative in Congress.
    • Montana receives an estimated $2 billion in federal funds each year based on Census data.
    • For every Montana resident counted, a Census study estimates the state will receive $20,000 over the decade for things like healthcare, schools, highways, needs-based support and more.
    • Missing only one resident means that a community misses $20,000 of its fair share of federal funding.
    • Communities rely on Census data to plan for the future.
    • Responding to the Census once every decade matters today and for the next ten years. Make it count, Montana!

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Finally, if you have a chance, I would encourage you to watch a short video from our Music staff.  Their online compilation of the famous disco hit I will survive  brought a lot of smiles to everyone’s faces on Monday morning.

    Thanks,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 27, 2020 - 5:00 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    I want to reassure you that MCPS will be able to continue all of our remote learning and meal delivery via bus routes and drop in locations through April 10, 2020 even in light of Governor Bullock’s recent Stay at Home Directive. 

    Regarding food delivery options, please check our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 website for information about new routes into the Target Range and Desmet areas that start on Monday 3/30.

    We will also continue to provide sack meals at our four drop in locations from 10:00am -1:00pm, Monday - Friday 

      • Chief Charlo
      • Franklin
      • Lowell
      • Russell

    The Governor has issued a Stay at Home Directive, March 28 - April 10.  The full text of Governor Bullock’s order is here.  We should all take these orders seriously and stay at home to protect our community and our health care system. If you are wondering about what this means for outdoor recreation or visiting with your friends, here are a couple of resources for you from the Missoula City County Health Department (MCCHD) and the Centers for Disease Control websites:

    You can also check the MCCHD FAQ page for the most up to date information.

    As we begin to transition to teacher led lessons and activities next week, your school staff will be sending you a message explaining where the lesson content will be posted.  Middle and High School students may receive a message directly from their teacher(s), so please encourage them to keep checking their school email. If you have questions about school lessons or activities, I would encourage you to contact your teacher and/or the school regarding what has been posted.  During this time of school closure, school staff is working remotely, but still checking their email and voicemail.   

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    I will provide updates to you about any possible extensions to school closures as soon as we are made aware of those extensions.

    Thank you, 

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 26, 2020 - 6:30 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    We want to reassure you that MCPS will be able to continue all of our meal deliveries through April 10, 2020 even in light of Governor Bullock’s recent Stay at Home Directive. This includes the new routes we plan to start on Monday, March 30, 2020 to the Target Range and Desmet areas.

    If your school is hosting an additional pick up day before the Stay at Home order takes effect on Friday night, they will contact you directly with the details.

    We encourage everyone to take these orders seriously and stay at home to protect our community and our health care system.

    Thank you, 

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 25, 2020 - 3:30 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    Now that the Governor has extended his closure orders through April 10, 2020, we all have the ability to plan ahead for the next two weeks of student learning from home. 

    Please know that we recognize that the safety and emotional welfare of your children is your top priority at this time.  I speak for your teachers when I say that we share that priority. We know that remote learning activities may not be the most important thing for families right now - and that is ok.  If any remote learning activity or expectation is causing undue stress for you or your child, it is ok to stop and try something else. Keeping kids engaged by reading a book or playing a board game involving math can be just as effective, if the online activities are causing frustration.  As the weeks progress and all the kinks are worked out, the remote learning activities will become more natural. We all know that kids learn best when they are not frustrated. So please give yourself and your students time to adjust and don’t worry about falling behind.

    We have asked our teachers to take time this week to check-in with students and explain how the learning will work.  For the first few weeks, we have asked that teachers focus on content that is a review of concepts and skills, as a way to lessen the stress and to allow students time to adjust to the new system.  We know that this will look different, depending on grade level and content. Please be patient with our teachers as they are also trying new things and determining what works best.

    You can find all information about online learning on the REMOTE LEARNING button added just below the photo sliders on each school’s homepage and our main district page.

    We have received many comments and questions about end-of-year activities, like graduation ceremonies.  Please know that these activities are at the top of our mind as well. At this time, the Governor has made no decisions about closing school for the year.  I assume that we will know more as the weeks progress. Like many Districts, we are in the process of requesting a waiver from the Governor so that we won’t have to make up the lost school days.  This means that we will likely not have to extend the school year, pending the decision from the Governor. There are a lot of unknowns right now, thank you for your patience. We will keep you informed as soon as we have some more guidance and decisions to share.

    We have received a lot of questions about meal service information. Some of the content below is a repost from previous messages. Please take note of the new information about some new routes we are adding to get into our more rural areas of the county. 

    Meals for youth - open to ANY youth under 18 (even private school or homeschool students, or students from other school districts)

    This information will also be on posters on the front entrance of every school.

    • During this school closure period, our school lunch and breakfast program is open to all youth for FREE.  There is no limitation related to income status nor previous qualification for free/reduced lunch. Any youth can receive free meals, regardless of status.
    • The following school sites will be open from 10:00 -1:00 Monday - Friday to pick up meals
      • Chief Charlo
      • Franklin
      • Lowell
      • Russell

    Meals can be picked up at any time during this three hour window. Each bag will include both breakfast and lunch. 

    • Meals will also be delivered on all elementary school bus routes between 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  We are using the ‘PK5 bus routes because there are more stops, in more neighborhoods.  However any youth under 18 will be able to grab a lunch at the stop, regardless of grade level.
    • STARTING THURSDAY 3/26/20 two new high school bus routes will cover additional areas in Missoula County.
      • One route will cover Rock Creek, Clinton, Turah, along Highway 200 and Potomac.
      • One route will cover El-Mar Estates, Mullan Road, Lolo, and the Blue Mountain Trailer Court.
      • Details about the bus stops for these routes will be in InfoFinder and on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page.
    • STARTING FRIDAY 3/27/20, Empower Packs will be delivered. These weekend food bags packaged by the Missoula Food Bank will be distributed on Fridays on all bus routes and at the 4 drop in locations.
    • STARTING MONDAY 3/30/20, we will partner with Desmet and Target Range schools to start two new bus routes.
      • The Target Range route will cover all the way to Kona Ranch Road, along Blue Mountain Road, O’Keefe Creek, and O’Brien Creek areas.
      • The Target Range Route will only run on Mondays and Wednesdays. Multiple meals will be delivered each day.
      • The Desmet route will cover students from the east side of Russell Street all the way to the Wye and Butler Creek areas.
      • Details about the bus stops for these routes will be in InfoFinder and on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page.

    Please send only one person from each family (this can be an adult) to pick up the meals at a pick up site or a bus stop for youth under 18 in your household.  When picking up meals at a school site or a bus stop, please maintain a 6 foot distance from others waiting in line for meals.

    Infofinder routes have been revised so that parents will see the exact time between 11 - 1 when the bus will arrive at their stop. We will also be posting the bus stop information on the front entrance of every elementary school. When searching for a bus stop, parents need to put in their address and then use the drop down menu to select the appropriate elementary school closest to their home.

    The timing may flex by 10-15 minutes from the posted schedule as we get the system up and running.

    If you see a bus stop in the community, it has meals on board. If you need a meal, follow that bus to its next stop and they will provide you with meals.

    Food Allergies: Parents or guardians, please examine the food  for those students who have food allergies. We will identify lunches that have peanuts, but we recognize that there are other food allergies.  If your student has known food allergies, please check over the food that has been delivered for any potential problems. If you have questions about how the food was prepared or specific ingredients, please contact our food service department at 728-2400 ext. 3023 or 5012 or slrossmiller@mcps.k12.mt.us

    Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Thanks for your patience,

    Rob


    Message:  March 24, 2020 - 4:00 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    In accordance with Governor Bullock’s updated set of directives and guidance shared this afternoon in a press conference, Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed through Friday, April 10, 2020.

    All previous closures of MCPS campuses PreK-12, sports practices and driver’s education programs, and all Life Long Learning Center services will be extended until Friday, April 10, 2020.

    In addition, the Governor also issued a directive limiting nonessential social and recreational gatherings of over 10 people outside of a home if a distance of over 6 feet cannot be maintained. Thank you for doing your part to ensure we maintain appropriate physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.

    We understand that school closure can be a hardship for our students and families.  We will continue to provide meals to all youth in our community via our elementary school bus stops and drop offs at each of our schools. We will continue to provide remote learning options during the extended school closure.  Please continue to check email and our website for information, we expect to share more information with you on Wednesday 3/25/20 by 5pm.

    Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Thanks for your patience,

    Rob


    Message:  March 23, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work through with the new online learning environment. I visited a few schools today during the optional pickup day along with members of our district leadership team. I was thankful for service and support from our principals, secretaries and custodians as they helped our parents and students pickup essential items from school. If you visited a school today to pick up any materials, I want to thank you for observing social distancing guidelines. I was happy to see our community working together to protect ourselves.

    What to do for the rest of this week

    Schools will remain closed through March 27, 2020

    All MCPS buildings are closed through March 27, 2020, including the Business Building, Administration Building, all school sites PK-12, and the Lifelong Learning Center.  In most cases, we have directed our staff to work from home. If you need to contact someone at your school, I would encourage you to send an email or leave a voicemail on the main school phone line.  

    Any news on extending the school closures?

    As you are aware, the Governor’s office issued a directive for school closure from March 16 - March 27.  In addition, our local public health officials have closed down local establishments, like restaurants and gyms, in an effort to limit community gathering.  At this time, we are not sure if the Governor or the local health department will extend these closures, however, it seems likely as things are becoming more restrictive, rather than less.  As soon as we are notified of any possible extension of closure, we will send a notification to parents and staff. Thank you for your patience regarding these decisions.

    Our Board will meet on virtually Wednesday night to discuss our remote learning plans and delivery of essential services, like food service, during this time of closure.  If you are interested in participating in that meeting or watching it online, the agenda is posted online and can be accessed from the calendar on our homepage. 

    Online Learning for the week of 3/27/20

    The Teaching and Learning Department has placed some basic and general learning activities on our website for all parents to access for all grades PreK-12.  Visit www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 and click the REMOTE LEARNING button. We are glad to see that over 2500 families have already visited this page.

    These activities are designed to keep students engaged in learning by reviewing concepts and content that students have already been exposed to; they are not intended to replace what they may be missing in your classroom.  During this week, we will not introduce new content and will not expect any assignments to be graded.

    Support for students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan

    Special education teachers, related service providers, and para educators will work to gather materials and develop support activities to allow students to maintain skills with regard to IEP goals. These materials will be in addition to any educational materials that are already provided by general education teachers and will be sent to parents by 3/27/20.

    We will not be holding any IEP or 504 meetings during the week of March 23-27.  If you have meetings scheduled, you will be contacted by our staff to reschedule those meetings.  We are also working on virtual meeting options for any rescheduled or future meetings. 

    Our Special Education Coordinators will work with school staff and the Teaching and Learning Department to put together additional student learning resources that will start the week of 3/30/20 if our schools are still closed.  The focus areas will include Reading, Writing, Math, Self-Help/Independence, Social/Emotional/ Behavioral. 

    CSCT Therapists are transitioning to outpatient therapy model

    We have been in communication with our CSCT partners about their service model. They are transitioning their school-based therapists to an outpatient therapy model. The therapists will be contacting the students and families directly to arrange ways to provide services. We do not yet know where those meetings will occur or how the services will be provided. Thank you for your concern for our students’ mental health. We will provide you updates when we know more.

    MEALS - some updated information based on the first day of meal service 

    Remember - meals are available to ANY youth under 18 (even private school or homeschool students, or students from other school districts)

    • During this school closure period, our school lunch and breakfast program is open to ALL youth for FREE.  There is no limitation related to income status nor previous qualification for free/reduced lunch. Any youth can receive free meals, regardless of status.
    • The following school sites will be open from 10:00am -1:00pm, Monday - Friday to pick up meals
      • Chief Charlo
      • Franklin
      • Lowell
      • Russell

    Meals can be picked up at any time during this three hour window. Each bag will include both breakfast and lunch.

    • Meals will also be delivered on all elementary school bus routes between 11:00 a.m. - 1:00  p.m. We are using the K5 bus routes because there are more stops, in more neighborhoods.  However ANY youth under 18 will be able to grab a lunch at the stop, regardless of grade level.
    • Meals will be dropped at all school locations on this schedule:
      • Big Sky 12:20 p.m.
      • Hellgate 12:15 p.m.
      • Sentinel 11:35 a.m.
      • C.S. Porter 11:25 a.m.
      • Meadow Hill 11:25 a.m.
      • Washington 11:10 a.m.
      • Chief Charlo 11:20 a.m.
      • Franklin 12:05 p.m.
      • Hawthorne 12:00 p.m.
      • Jeannette Rankin 11:25 a.m.
      • Lewis and Clark 11:15 a.m.
      • Lowell 12:10 p.m.
      • Paxson 11:27 a.m.
      • Rattlesnake 12:20 p.m.
      • Russell 11:15 a.m.

    Please send only one person from each family (this can be an adult) to pick up the meals at a pick up site or a bus stop for youth under 18 in your household.  When picking up meals at a school site or a bus stop, please maintain a 6 foot distance from others waiting in line for meals.

    Infofinder routes have been revised so that parents will see the exact time between 11 - 1 when the bus will arrive at their neighborhood stop. We will also be posting the bus stop information on the front entrance of every elementary school. When searching for a bus stop, parents need to put in their address and then use the drop down menu to select the appropriate elementary school closest to their home.

    The timing may flex by 10-15 minutes from the posted schedule as we get the system up and running. This means that the bus may be at the stop early or late.  Please be watching the stop before and after the scheduled time. If you miss the delivery at your bus stop, remember that you can pick up food at the school sites listed above until 1pm.

    Food Allergies: Parents or guardians, please examine the food  for those students who have food allergies. We will identify lunches that have peanuts, but we recognize that there are other food allergies.  If your student has known food allergies, please check over the food that has been delivered for any potential problems. If you have questions about how the food was prepared or specific ingredients, please contact our food service department at 728-2400 ext. 3023 or 5012 or slrossmiller@mcps.k12.mt.us

    Lines of communication

    As we all get adjusted to our new normal with schools closed, we want to help you plan on a communications schedule so you know when you will get updated information. 

    • District level communications, if needed, will come out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by 3 p.m.

    All staff will be checking their emails and responding to emails and phone calls as they are able during the week of 3/23/20. Return phone calls may come from a number that says No Caller ID, Unknown, or Blocked because we will not be using our school phones to return calls.

    If you are not getting the emails we are sending to or you have friends that have stated they are not getting the messages, there are a few options:

    1. Check your Junk and Spam folders.
    2. Read the messages on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page. 
    3. Log into mcpsmt.parentlink.net to check your delivery preferences for your own account. Make sure that you haven’t opted out of any type of message. Here is a help link that has screenshots to guide you ParentLink Help.

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    As we settle into the week, students and families are encouraged to establish an environment for remote learning .  That may include setting up a work space in your home if possible and ensuring you can connect to the Internet and log into a loaner laptop you have received from the school. There will certainly be hiccups in our procedures and you and your students will be a part of providing us with feedback so that we can continue to improve on our system. Thank you in advance for your patience and positivity as we welcome students back for a week of supplemental learning engagement. I will provide updates to you about any possible extensions to school closures as soon as we are made aware of those extensions.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 20, 2020 - 2:45 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Thank you for being patient with our messaging and information regarding our response to COVID-19.  I hope that many of you have been able to take advantage of spring break to enjoy time outdoors even in the midst of concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.  We will do our best to continue to provide current and relevant information.  

    The best advice for all of us is to stay at home, unless absolutely necessary.  

    I know that the circumstances we find ourselves in due to COVID-19 are exceptional and they will require all of us to be careful to protect our personal health and to be flexible to support our students' learning needs. This email will provide as many answers as possible as of Friday 3/20/20. 

    Schools are closed through March 27, 2020

    All MCPS buildings are closed through March 27, 2020, including the Business Building, Administration Building, all school sites PK-12, and the Lifelong Learning Center.  In most cases, we have directed our staff to work from home. If the Governor or the Missoula City County Health Department recommend that we stay closed longer than March 27th, we will provide you with an update.

    Gatherings of people over 10 are all cancelled through May 8, 2020

    The CDC has released new guidance regarding large events and mass gatherings. The CDC recommends canceling all events of 50 or more people until May 8, 2020.  In addition the White House released updated guidelines recommending that gatherings be limited to under 10 people at a time.   While gatherings of over 10 are cancelled based on White House recommendations, we don’t yet know what that advice will mean for schools.

    Monday 3/23/20 OPTIONAL pick up day at all schools PK-12

    • 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.  Families with last names starting with A-H
    • 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Families with last names starting with I-P
    • 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Families with last names starting with Q-Z

    We are providing families the option to come in and get their students’ personal belongings. This time can be used for families and students to pick up personal items from their lockers, pick up instruments, and pick up medications. Access to classrooms will be granted only if a student has an essential element in the classroom. There will be no library book checkouts. Families will also be able to pick up a loaner laptop for families who have no access to a computer in their home.  We have a limited number of loaner laptops, so we ask that they be saved for families that need one.

    We have asked Principals and Secretaries to be available in the buildings on March 23.  Remember that you do not have to come to the school on Monday. It is an option if you need to pick up something.  If you don’t need to come to school, please stay at home. If you do plan to stop by, please remember social distancing guidelines and limit your time in the school to less than 10 minutes if possible.

    MEALS

    Meals for youth - open to ANY youth under 18 (even private school or homeschool students, or students from other school districts)

    This information will also be on posters on the front entrance of every school.

    • During this school closure period, our school lunch and breakfast program is open to ALL youth for FREE.  There is no limitation related to income status nor previous qualification for free/reduced lunch. Any youth can receive free meals, regardless of status.
    • The following school sites will be open from 10:00am -1:00pm, Monday - Friday to pick up meals
      • Chief Charlo
      • Franklin
      • Lowell
      • Russell

    Meals can be picked up at any time during this three hour window. Each bag will include both breakfast and lunch.

    • Meals will also be delivered on all elementary school bus routes between 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.  We are using the K5 bus routes because there are more stops, in more neighborhoods.  However ANY youth under 18 will be able to grab a lunch at the stop, regardless of grade level.

    Please send only one person from each family (this can be an adult) to pick up the meals at a pick up site or a bus stop for youth under 18 in your household.  When picking up meals at a school site or a bus stop, please maintain a 6 foot distance from others waiting in line for meals.

    Infofinder routes have been revised so that parents will see the exact time between 11 - 1 when the bus will arrive at their neighborhood stop. We will also be posting the bus stop information on the front entrance of every elementary school. When searching for a bus stop, parents need to put in their address and then use the drop down menu to select the appropriate elementary school closest to their home.

    The timing may flex by 10-15 minutes from the posted schedule as we get the system up and running. This means that the bus may be at the stop early or late.  Please be watching the stop before and after the scheduled time. If you miss the delivery at your bus stop, remember that you can pick up food at the school sites listed above until 1pm.

    Food Allergies: Parents or guardians, please examine the food  for those students who have food allergies. We will identify lunches that have peanuts, but we recognize that there are other food allergies.  If your student has known food allergies, please check over the food that has been delivered for any potential problems. If you have questions about how the food was prepared or specific ingredients, please contact our food service department at 728-2400 ext. 3023 or 5012 or slrossmiller@mcps.k12.mt.us

    Lines of communication

    As we all get adjusted to our new normal with schools closed, we want to help you plan on a communications schedule so you know when you will get updated information. 

    • District level communications, if needed, will come out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by 3 p.m.
    • School level communications, if needed, will come out on Tuesdays and Thursdays by 3 p.m. 

    All staff will be checking their emails and responding to emails and phone calls as they are able during the week of 3/23/20. Return phone calls may come from a number that says No Caller ID, Unknown, or Blocked because we will not be using our school phones to return calls.

    If you are not getting the emails we are sending to or you have friends that have stated they are not getting the messages, there are a few options:

    1. Check your Junk and Spam folders.
    2. Read the messages on our www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page. 
    3. Log into mcpsmt.parentlink.net to check your delivery preferences for your own account. Make sure that you haven’t opted out of any type of message. Here is a help link that has screenshots to guide you ParentLink Help.

    Online Learning for the week of 3/27/20

    During the week of March 23-27, the Teaching and Learning Department will have some basic and general learning activities posted on our website for all parents to access for all grades PreK-12.  Visit www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 and click the REMOTE LEARNING button.

    These activities will be designed to keep students engaged in learning by reviewing concepts and content that students have already been exposed to; they are not intended to replace what they may be missing in your classroom.  During this week, we will not introduce new content and will not expect any assignments to be graded.

    Support for students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan

    Special education teachers, related service providers, and para educators will work to gather materials and develop support activities to allow students to maintain skills with regard to IEP goals. These materials will be in addition to any educational materials that are already provided by general education teachers and will be sent to parents by 3/27/20.

    We will not be holding any IEP or 504 meetings during the week of March 23-27.  If you have meetings scheduled, you will be contacted by our staff to reschedule those meetings.  We are also working on virtual meeting options for any rescheduled or future meetings. 

    Our Special Education Coordinators will work with school staff and the Teaching and Learning Department to put together additional student learning resources that will start the week of 3/30/20 if our schools are still closed.  The focus areas will include Reading, Writing, Math, Self-Help/Independence, Social/Emotional/ Behavioral. 

    Travel advisories were updated on Thursday 3/19/20

    Governor Steve Bullock’s Directive to self quarantine after international travel was released on Thursday 3/19/20.

    “As Montanans return from spring break, Montanans who have been traveling internationally should take the proactive step to self-quarantine for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus in their community,” Governor Bullock said. “Prevention is our best tool for combatting COVID-19. The ability to slow new infections is in our hands and our friends and neighbors are counting on us to do the right thing.”

    There is new Info on CDC website about:

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    I have been greatly impressed with the entire MCPS team during this time of crisis. Thank you for your continued patience while we develop our plans.  I hope that you and your students stay healthy and engaged in their learning next week as we embark on this new online learning program together.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 17, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Thank you for being patient with our messaging and information regarding our response to COVID-19.  I understand that everyone is anxious right now. We will do our best to continue to provide current and relevant information.  

    The best advice for all of us is to stay at home, unless absolutely necessary.  At the district level, we are directing our staff to work from home if possible. We are very grateful to our custodial staff who continue to work during this closure time to make sure buildings are disinfected, maintained, and secure.  We are also very grateful to our district food service staff who are busy preparing food for deployment to students on Monday 3/23/20.   

    I know that the circumstances we find ourselves in due to COVID-19 are exceptional and they will require all of us to be careful to protect our personal health and to be flexible to support our students' learning needs as well as help meet their most basic needs, like food security.

    This email will provide as many answers as possible as of Tuesday morning 3/17/20. Please expect to receive at least one additional communication from me this week clarifying plans for our work starting 3/23/20.

    Schools are closed

    All MCPS buildings are closed, including the Business Building, Administration Building, all school sites PK-12, and the Lifelong Learning Center. 

    Gatherings of people over 10 are all cancelled through May 8, 2020

    The CDC has released new guidance regarding large events and mass gatherings. The CDC recommends canceling all events of 50 or more people until May 8, 2020.  In addition the White House released updated guidelines recommending that gatherings be limited to under 10 people at a time. MCPS and schools will be canceling or rescheduling any school-related event that exceeds this limit- including the Strategic Planning Meeting scheduled for 3/25, High School Proms, and any concerts and special events planned at schools between now and May 8, 2020.

    Montana High School Association Sports and Activities

    Mark Beckman from MHSA shared the following information on Monday:

    • All MHSA spring activities will be indefinitely suspended until further notice. This includes practices and contests/meets/festivals.  The Executive Board will reevaluate this situation on April 13th and any additional information regarding spring activities will be provided as it becomes available.
    • If spring activities are resumed, the practice requirement for sports at that time will be five practices from resumption except for golf which will be the normal two practices required.
    • Post season formats will be adjusted by conferences as necessary with MHSA approval.

    This information impacts our HS spring sports as well as our upcoming District Music Festival.  Coaches will not hold any practices until further notice from MHSA.

    Pickup Day on 3/23/20

    Our schools will be open on 3/23/20, with limited access, to allow staff and students to pick up essential items from the buildings. We will have very limited staff in the buildings to support access to students and families. Please be efficient and keep your time in our schools as brief as possible. Please observe social distancing on this day and avoid handshakes, hugs, fist bumps, etc. 

    • Parents and students can pick up personal items, medication, and instruments
    • If your family requested one of our MCPS Access laptop donations, that can be picked up on Monday 3/23

    Meals for students and family members

    We will start providing sack breakfast and lunch meals to any students who need them on Monday, March 23, 2020. We are working on plans to have a few options for students to get meals; either by pickup at a school site or limited delivery to neighborhoods.  We are still working on the details of this plan and will get exact information out as soon as possible. Any youth can access these meals.  We do not have to limit the meals to students who qualify for Free and Reduced Price meals.

    Schedule for the week of 3/23/-3/27/20 and Online Instruction Information

    The MCPS Teaching & Learning Department will be compiling strategies and educational activities that families can use to keep students engaged in learning during the school closure. The goal of all online instruction during the school shutdown period is to provide activities that keep students engaged in learning and to avoid a learning loss in skills and content knowledge. It is not a complete replacement for face to face instructional time.

    During the week of March 23-27, from the District level, we will have some basic and general activities posted on our website for all parents to access for all grades K-12.  These activities will be designed to keep students engaged in learning, but are not intended to replace what they may be missing in their classroom.  

    We hope that parents can partner with children to complete these activities. Some will include learning with devices and technology, while others do not; similar to the student experience during a typical school day. Although some of these resources are already regularly used in school, we hope that students have opportunities to try something new or show their learning in a new way. 

    Starting on March 23, teachers will be asked to plan for some online learning options for their students that can be posted to classroom or school websites starting Monday, March 30, if schools remain closed. We are still working with OPI and the Governor’s office to determine whether or not we will be required to extend the school year. 

    What happens if the Governor extends his directives and keeps schools closed?

    If the Governor extends his directives and keeps schools closed, we will continue to deliver options for students to stay engaged in learning online and avoid a learning loss in skills and content knowledge. We will also continue to provide breakfast and lunch to youth and families in our community.

    I realize that you may still have more questions. Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    I have been greatly impressed with the entire MCPS team during this time of crisis. Thank you for your continued patience while we develop our plans.  We will be sending more information later this week regarding access to our food service program as well as information about our online learning activities.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent

     


    Message:  March 15, 2020 - 10:15 p.m.

    MCPS Families:

    In accordance with Governor Bullock’s set of directives and guidance to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable Montanans, including closing of public K-12 schools, social distancing measures, and limiting visitation at nursing home facilities, Missoula County Public Schools will remain closed from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, 2020.  This closure may be extended, based on guidance from the State Health Department and/or the Governor’s office.  

    We understand that school closure can be a hardship for our students and families.  We will be working during Spring Break to develop plans for access to our school lunch program as well as other critical student services during the closure.  We will have plans in place by March 23. Please continue to check email and our website for information.

    In addition to schools being closed, effective immediately, all sports practices and driver’s education programs are suspended along with all Life Long Learning Center programs and classes.  This also includes any activities or practices that were planned over Spring Break. All of these activities as well as other school related activities will be suspended, at least through Friday, March 27.

    Several post-spring break activities will need to be postponed, rescheduled or canceled.  The ACT test to be given to all Juniors on March 24 will need to be rescheduled. There is a make-up day later in the spring.  We have also had questions about the District Music Festival - coming up in early April. We assume this event will be canceled but we are still waiting for the final word from the Montana High School Association. If you have questions about specific activities at your school, please check with your building Principal.

    The CDC has also just released new guidance today regarding large events and mass gatherings.  Starting immediately and for the next 8 weeks, the CDC recommends canceling all events of 50 or more people.  For this reason, from now until May 8, MCPS will be canceling or postponing any school event that exceeds this limit as well as any event that may be smaller than 50, but includes members of our community interacting with students/staff at the event. I have directed our staff to work on cancelling or rescheduling events that exceed 50 people. Exceptions to this rule would be any event that is essential to the function of the school, for example the school lunch program or the after school care programs at our K5 schools.

    Our MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be meeting throughout the day on Monday and we will share updates with parents and the community about our plans to support student access to meals during the week of 3/23/20. The Food Bank has these current sites open for meals during our spring break:

    • Travois Village: Lunch: 11:30am – 12:00pm Monday – Friday
    • Futura Mobile Homes: Lunch: 12:00pm – 12:30pm Monday – Friday
    • EmPower Place at Montana Food Bank and Community Center:
      • Breakfast: 9:30-11am Wednesday & Friday
      • Lunch: 11 am – 1:30pm – Monday – Friday
      • Supper: 5-7pm Monday, Tuesday & Thursday only

    Please submit any questions or concerns you have that have not been addressed by our current information in this email. The MCPS COVID-19 Response Team will be monitoring this form in our continuing response within our school district. 

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    Thank you for your patience,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 13, 2020 - 3:00 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families,

    First, I would thank everyone for their patience as we work through the quickly evolving COVID-19 virus.  The safety of our students and staff is always our top priority. Please keep in mind that things are changing by the hour. 

    As you know, COVID-19 is an evolving issue and we are responding to what we know today.  We will likely change our response over time. None of our decisions are made in a vacuum.  We have been in close consultation with our state and local officials regarding our decisions and we will continue to do so.  We are also examining guidance from the CDC.

    Restrictions in place March 23- April 30

    Based on advice from the Missoula City/County Health Department and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we will increase our restrictions in the following ways starting March 23, when we return from spring break.

    Each of these guidelines will begin on March 23 and will be in effect for March and April.  We will reassess these decisions for May and June.

    • We will suspend, cancel or postpone all out-of-state, school sponsored travel for both students and staff for March and April.  We will reassess for May and June.  We are also looking at in-state travel on a case-by-case basis at this time.
    • In an effort to stem the growth of the virus among potentially sensitive groups in the community, we will suspend, cancel or postpone all school sponsored activities that involve members of our community in attendance for March and April and reassess for May and June.  This would mean concerts, plays, our Native Youth Pow Wow or other activities that bring together community members with staff and students.  This may also impact activities or competitions governed by the Montana High School Association, but we will wait to receive guidance from MHSA regarding spring sports.
    • We will suspend, cancel or postpone school sponsored, during the school day, or afterschool gatherings that bring together large groups of students and staff, unless necessary for the function of the school.  For example, delivery of our school lunch program or administration of the ACT may still require that we have larger groups of students together in one location.  For events that are not necessary to the function of the school, we will ask our staff to consider alternatives to break students into smaller groups when possible or reschedule events to a later date.

    Please know that these steps are not taken lightly.  In many cases students and staff have worked hard to plan and participate in school activities.  We understand that everyone will be impacted by these decisions, but we are taking these necessary steps to help slow down the spread of this disease, not only for our schools, but also our community.

    Possible school closure

    We will follow the guidance of the Missoula City / County Health Department (MCCHD), the Office of Public Instruction, the Governor's office and the CDC.  (Please see the attached flow chart from CDC that will help guide our decisions regarding school closure. We are currently in the “No Community Spread” category.) 

    We understand that there are those in our community who would like to see full District closure at this time, before the first confirmed case.  We know that this type of action can help to slow down the transmission of this virus. At this time, there has been no order nor recommendation for full District closure, either from the Governor’s office or the local health department.  In addition, full District closure is not recommended under the CDC guidance, given the current status of spread in our community. We know that this outbreak is evolving quickly and advice may change in the coming days or weeks. We have been discussing school closure with our staff and Board of Trustees and we will be ready for that contingency.

    When there is a confirmed case at any school, staff or student, we may establish a short-term closure procedures, based on advice from our local health department.  Under this protocol: the school where there is a confirmed case would be closed for a period of 2-5 days.  The purpose of this closure would be to clean the school and provide time for the MCCHD to identify close contacts and establish protocols around school exclusion for some students or staff.  This is similar to exclusion protocols that we have experienced with Pertussis.

    Make decisions that are right for your family

    In absence of school or District closure, parents may always make their own decisions regarding school attendance and keeping children at home.  If parents call in to excuse the students from school, the student absence will be considered an excused absence. Teachers will do their best to provide homework or handouts as they would with any student who is absent from school.

    What we are already doing to meet CDC guidelines

    We continue to follow the guidelines of the public health community in making decisions for our school district. Here are some steps we have taken to prepare as a school district based on those recommendations:

    • We established a district response team to help with communication and processes.
    • We increased communication and collaboration around the evolving issues with community and state partners: Missoula City/County Health Department, UM, City / County officials, AA Superintendents, Office of Public Instruction.
    • We have encouraged staff and students to stay home when sick.
    • We focused on hand washing protocols and systems for wiping down frequently touched surfaces.
    • We asked teachers to begin to prepare learning management systems for remote or online learning in anticipation of school closures.  
    • We have planned for delivery of student services in the event of closure, like school lunch and discussed other services that will need to be delivered in event of closure.

    Thanks again for your patience.  We will be updating families and our COVID-19 website over break, please stay tuned for any updates.  If you have a question or comment, we have established a form on our COVID website where you can submit your comment.  These comments will be shared with our response team.

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).


    Thank you,

    Rob Watson

    Superintendent


    Message:  March 6, 2020 - 5:30 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Missoula County Public Schools, School District #1, does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus in our schools. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Montana at this time. If confirmed cases were to occur, we will initiate our crisis communications plan and notify staff and parents/guardians within the school via text, email, and phone call as well as place updates on this website and our social media platforms.  In addition, we have not cancelled any student trips or activities at this time.  We will continue to monitor this decision and seek guidance from the Missoula City/County Health Department as needed.

    We will continuously update the www.mcpsmt.org/covid-19 page on our website so that you can find out about our response plans. There is new information in the FAQ about:

    • What we are doing about cleaning our schools
    • Advice on whether or not to stay home from school
    • Our planning considerations for student trips and for closing school if we get a lot of cases of COVID-19 in our community

    If you have medical questions about COVID-19, please contact your health care provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    What we are doing at a district level and in our schools

    Our MCPS COVID-19 Response Team is managing our district plan to prepare our district and respond to this illness when it reaches our community. As a district, we will follow US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Montana DPHHS), and the Missoula City County Health Department (MCCHD) recommendations to prevent any infection of any respiratory virus, including:

    • Staff and students should stay home when they are sick.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible.
    • Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

    Additional information about the coronavirus is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services website and the Missoula City County Health Department website.

    If you have questions regarding procedures specific to your child’s school, please contact the staff at your school.  If you have questions or concerns about any illness or symptoms, you should seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider or the Missoula City County Health Department at 258-INFO (258-4636).

    The health and safety of all students and staff is a top priority for our District.   We will continue to update you regarding information and response to the coronavirus.

    Thank you,

    Rob Watson, Superintendent


    Message:  March 3, 2020 - 4 p.m.

    Dear MCPS Families:

    Missoula County Public Schools, School District #1, does not have a confirmed case of coronavirus in our schools. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Montana at this time. If confirmed cases were to occur, we will initiate our crisis communications plan and notify staff and parents/guardians within the school via text, email, and phone call as well as place updates on this website and our social media platforms.  In addition, we have not cancelled any student trips or activities at this time. We will continue to monitor this decision and seek guidance from external agencies as needed.

    We have added a page to our website that you can find from the homepage of any school or from www.mcpsmt.org will additional information about our MCPS Coronavirus response.

    What we are doing at a district level and in our schools

    Our MCPS COVID-19 Response Team is managing our district plan to prepare our district and respond to this illness when it reaches our community. As a district, we will follow US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (Montana DPHHS), and the Missoula City County Health Department (MCCHD) recommendations to prevent any infection of any respiratory virus, including:

    • Staff and students should stay home when they are ill with symptoms that might prevent them from participating in their normal school activities.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, if possible.
    • Cough or sneeze into an elbow or use a tissue and place immediately in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

    We are also collaborating with the Missoula City County Health Department on the appropriate prevention and planning steps for when we get a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community. We will take the guidance from the MCCHD on when to exclude any students from school and collaborate with them on any other considerations that may impact our schools.  Families are encouraged to seek guidance from a qualified health care provider if they have questions or concerns about any illness.

    We are advising teachers to plan for digital options that would allow students to continue their education from home if they are ill or isolated from school awaiting COVID-19 test results.  We are also exploring options for students who may not have computer access at home, if needed.  

    While a new type of illness can cause concerns, we can protect our students, teachers, and the broader community by using simple everyday actions that protect people from other types of respiratory viruses. Our teachers, school nurses, and staff are working carefully to encourage these simple and effective habits of frequent hand washing, covering every cough or sneeze and cleaning classroom tables/surfaces frequently. This is important not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but to help prevent the spread of other infections that can lead to student illness and absences.

    Additional information about the coronavirus is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services website and the Missoula City County Health Department website.

    If you have questions regarding procedures specific to your child’s school, please contact the staff at your school.  If you have questions or concerns about any illness or symptoms, you should seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider.

    The health and safety of all students and staff is a top priority for our District.   We will continue to update you regarding information and response to the coronavirus.

    Thank you,

    Rob Watson, Superintendent