It sure seems like forever ago that COVID concerns had Missoula shutting down restaurants, bars, and even schools. And it was such a crazy way to end the schoolyear when students started doing virtual learning from home last year. The hope of having students back in the classroom full time for Missoula County Public Schools hasn't quite gone as planned. Surges in COVID-19 cases since the latest schoolyear started has kept virtual learning as the way of doing business for students and parents.

Our daughter started kindergarten this year and it seemed silly to have her go to class two days a week while wearing masks and social distancing - so we opted to have her do the virtual option. If she was in a higher grade we might have thought differently. But since it was her introduction to school we figured it would be fine to start at home and then join when schools transitioned back to the classroom. We're still waiting on that to happen. And I can vouch that virtual learning for a kindergartener is no joke - it's way more in depth and time consuming than you would think.

A big worry about having kids learn from home is the lack of face-to-face time and one-on-one learning with teachers. A group of parents and educators have recently started a Facebook page that is dedicated to getting kids in MCPS back into classrooms.

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Here's part of the group's description:

"MCPS Parents Advocating for Return to Schools is a group of parents and educators working with or parenting students in MCPS schools in the hybrid model.

As one of the only school districts in MT still avoiding full-time in-person learning, P.A.S.R.S founding members worry that an inequity not only between socio-economic groups and racial/ethnic groups is being enabled to grow because of the hybrid model, but now potentially a geographic education inequity: children in Msla are being allowed to fall behind while children in other MT towns are provided with more inclusive, complete educational opportunities."

Will the existence of a group like this help get gets back into the classroom? Do you think it's time for MCPS to return to in-person learning on a full-time basis?

If you want to learn more or become a member of the MCPS Parents Advocating for Return to Schools page - find it HERE. And check out a KPAX article about the group HERE.

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