Missoula County Public Schools are still closed until March 27th, meaning students would return to school on March 30th. If that doesn't happen and the closure is extended, schools will move to online classes for all grades. Earlier this week, it was declared that students would NOT have to make up the missed week of school from March 23rd to the 27th at the start of their summer break. Superintendent Rob Watson sent the following message to families today, March 20th at 2:54 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:

Are You at Higher Risk for Severe Illness?

Caring for Someone at Home

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