Teachers and students of Missoula County Public Schools will begin the fall semester in some capacity, but the situation is changing by the hour.
Teachers at Lewis & Clark Elementary School were told on Wednesday that if willing, they might be relocated to another school, teaching another subject, or moving to the Online Academy.
Lewis and Clark second grade teacher Christy Meurer expressed concern over the uncertainty of her schedule, "with six days to go, it’s all still very much up in the air."
According to the most recent MCPS plan, Meurer will have 10-second grade students on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, another group of 10 on Thursdays and Fridays, and when not with her students, she will provide home learning activities.
Meurer’s schedule, however, is still subject to change.
“We don't know who will be teaching in the building, who will be teaching online and who might have to move grade levels or schools to fill in for people who might be granted the teleworking option,” said Meurer.
In-person instruction begins on Aug. 26, but the option to enroll for the MCPS Online Academy doesn’t close until Sept. 2, making it nearly impossible for teachers to anticipate how many students they’ll have.
“We are losing a lot of in-person children to the Online Academy, which means we don't need as many teachers to be in the building, and then we have teachers that have applied to teach online, but don't know if they're going to be able to.”
Plans are changing rapidly, and teachers are being asked to adapt to schedules they haven’t necessarily seen yet. Meurer says even if her plans of teaching second grade pan out, she’s concerned about keeping her classroom “COVID conscious.”
“Seven-year-olds are like puppies,” said Meurer. “They pile on top of each other and they don't know they're even doing it, and they don't necessarily know how to blow their noses very well, they touch their faces constantly, they chew on everything.”
Like so many teachers right now, Meurer is rolling up her sleeves and preparing for what’s bound to be a challenging year.
“I think it's going to be very much a mixed bag of excitement to see kids and nervousness that we'll be able to make it happen in a way that benefits them and that's meaningful to them and where they go home, saying ‘it was a great day.’ That's gonna take a lot this year," she said.
MCPS is currently working to finalize class lists for teachers and for parents as soon as possible and administrators say they’ll have these done on Monday at the latest.