Return to School

  • Updated:  August 13, 2020

    On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the MCPS Board of Trustees voted to approve the Superintendent’s recommended reopening plan. MCPS schools will open in Phase 1 – Hybrid Model, with the exception of Seeley Swan High School. Seeley Swan High School will open in Phase 2- Modified Schedule. The District will also provide the MCPS Online Academy to all students K-12 until the District reaches Phase 3. 

    The MCPS Online Academy is our completely online K-12 school dedicated to supporting our staff and students who cannot return to face to face learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The MCPS Online Academy will be available to students while we are in Phase 0 - 2 of our phased reopening plan. The Online Academy may stay open to certain students who qualify due to significant health issues once we reach Phase 3 of our reopening plan. 

    For students who attend in-person learning in our schools, in Phase 1 – Hybrid Model, students will attend school for in-person learning two times per week and the remainder of the week is done remotely with lessons and assignments provided by the student’s classroom teacher. 

    First Day of School 

    • Wednesday August 26th first day of school – Kindergarten, 6th Grade, 9th grade students only for all city schools 
    • Monday September 1st first day of school – Seeley Swan High School 9-12 grade (pending board approval on 8/20) 
    • Tuesday September 8th first day of school – MCPS Online Academy 

    Detailed schedules for this school day will be shared by each school principal.

    MCPS will use the following health and safety precautions in all of our schools, offices and worksites: frequent sanitation of high touch surfaces, cloth face coverings for everyone K-12, promoting frequent handwashing for staff and students, limiting group sizes in classrooms and other areas of the school, maintaining student/teacher cohort groups, promoting social distancing wherever it is possible, limiting extracurricular activities,  health screenings for all staff and requesting parents to screen students at home, immediate isolation of students who become sick while at school who are awaiting pick up, avoiding use of lockers/cubbies and the sharing of most school supplies, no visitors allowed in school buildings until we reach Phase 3.  

    Beach transportation will also work to maintain social distancing as much as possible and frequently sanitize high touch surfaces on school buses. 

    DAILY IN PERSON SCHOOL SCHEDULE

    Whenever we are in school, these are the start and end times, either in Phase 1 (Hybrid Model) or Phase 2 (Modified Schedule).  

    We would remain on this shortened schedule until we move to phase 3.

    • K-5:  Start Time 8:30 a.m./End Time 2:10 p.m.
    • 6-8:  Start Time 8:00 a.m./End Time 1:30 p.m.
    • 9-12:  Start Time 10:00 a.m./End Time 3:30 p.m.

    For more detailed information about what MCPS will do with regard to health and safety precautions, please click the button on the right for the Superintendent’s MCPS COVID-19 Reopening Guidance Chart. This chart shows the MCPS response to each of the considerations called for in state and national guidance about reopening of schools.

    A detailed schedule of in-person learning days for the first four weeks of school will be released later.


    On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, our Superintendent plans to recommend to the Board of Trustees that school starts on Wednesday, August 26th in Phase 1 - HYBRID MODEL.Students will attend school for in-person learning two times per week and the remainder of the week is done remotely. 

    The MCPS Online Academy will start on Wednesday, September 2nd. This is our completely online K-12 school dedicated to supporting our staff and students who cannot return to face to face learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The MCPS Online Academy will be available to students while we are in Phase 0 - 2 of our phased reopening plan. The Online Academy may stay open to certain students who qualify due to significant health issues once we reach Phase 3 of our reopening plan.

    K-12 students will be taught by MCPS educators, however, they may not be a teacher who is a member of your student’s home school.

    The MCPS Online Academy will be a trusting learning environment for students and staff, with a focus on connecting ourselves deeply in our learning community even while socially distanced and online.


    In early July, we shared our Return to School: What you can expect overview of our phases. (MCPS Reopen Overview.) This table explains the differences between the various phases and gives you an idea of what to expect in each phase.  The state of MT is in phase 2 of the Governor’s reopen plan.  We have updated the safety precautions we will take in each phase to reflect the most recent face covering order from the Governor.

    Decision making around which phase we will be in for the start of school

    It is important for us to monitor local COVID-19 data and make a decision regarding what is best for our District based on Missoula county data.  We have been coordinating with the county health office and they have shared some relevant metrics to consider: 

    • new case counts, 
    • rate of transmission (AKA R-t), and 
    • incidence rates per 1000.  

    We will use all available data to make the most appropriate decision for our District and our community.  Our Superintendent believes we should consider a phased reopening that may not be the same as the Governor’s phase 2.