Carol Farris and her 14-year-old son shared an office space in Bozeman when schools closed down last spring.
“This is my setup where I work 40-60 hours a week. And then this where my son was for 14 weeks,” said Farris, gesturing to a pair of desks.
She says poor internet service at home was only one of the major issues her family encountered during remote learning, and she can’t imagine doing it again.
“Our productivity both went down. I found myself having to, you know, drop my work in order to help him to be successful in getting through his classes,” she added.
In the recommended blended model released Monday, students with the last name A-M would be on campus Monday and Tuesday and online for the rest of the school week. Students M-Z would be on campus Thursday and Friday and online for the early part of the week.
“It’s good for them to go two days because the teacher can help them,” said Linda Huang who has two young children attending Bozeman Public Schools.
Huang says she’s still undecided about what the perfect plan looks like, but insists like many parents, that the social and hands-on learning component for kids is key.
“I can’t build a bubble for my kids and they do need a normal social life.”
But Huang acknowledged the complexity of the situation, adding the safety of children and teachers to be school administrators' number one priority.
Kerry Zwerner says her kids are going 100 percent online no matter what, and she worries about its actual feasibility.
“I’m immunosuppressed. And even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t send them back because I’m not willing to sacrifice our teachers and school staff and other children and families,” she said.
One thing everyone could agree on: the end of last school year was hardly sustainable, and they’re hoping for something better on the horizon.
The School Board meets this Thursday online at 9 am. Members of the public are invited to join and leave a public comment.