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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

Task Forces Formed To Guide School Reopenings Next Fall

These Browning kindergartners spend part of their day learning in English, and part of it learning in Blackfeet. The school's aim is to have a class of fluent Blackfeet speakers by the time the students graduate from high school.
Courtesy Emily Ritter Saunders
Browning kindergartners spend part of their day learning in English, and part of it learning in Blackfeet. How they, and students across the state, will safely return to school next year will be guided to two new OPI task forces.

Montana education officials announced Thursday that two task forces will develop guidance on how the state’s public schools can safely reopen their doors next fall.

As Montana’s public schools close out the school year, the state is turning its attention to the fall, when many districts are expected to welcome students back into their buildings one way or another.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction has formed two task forces. The MT Learn 2020 Task Force will consist of at least one student as well as parents, teachers, administers and state legislators. OPI said that group is focused on identifying the resources schools and students will need to be effective under distance- or mixed-education models.

With many education decisions left to local officials rather than the state, districts are likely to choose a variety of ways to move back to in-person education. Districts will create contingency plans for potential outbreaks of COVID-19.

The MT Flex 2020 Task Force will focus on reviewing state and federal laws that may need to be modified or waived in order to provide districts with flexibility. That group will mostly consist of state education officials, district administrators and the heads of school associations.

Both task forces will meet four times through June and provide guidance recommendations. OPI plans to release a comprehensive reopening plan sometime this summer.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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