Montana Public Radio

schools

Lockers in an empty school hallway.
PD

Montana Education Officials announced Thursday that a federal standardized test used to assess student progress across the country has been canceled this spring. That leaves the state with few options to monitor student learning progress amid the pandemic. 

Enrollment in public schools across the state compared to last year is down roughly 3,300 students, according to state education officials. District administrators and education advocates say many of those students are now being homeschooled. The decline in enrollment could hit school budgets now and in the future.

Missoula's Hellgate High School
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Melissa Romano, the Democrat running for to lead Montana’s K-12 public school system criticized the current school superintendent's handling of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funds. 

Melissa Romano and Republican incumbent Elsie Artnzen disagree over whether or not the state should have followed a now defunct federal rule that led to potentially $800,000 that was meant for public schools instead going to private and home schools across Montana.

Empty school classroom
iStock

Well over a month into the school year, some public school districts are making decisions about whether they should move toward more in-person education, while those that are dealing with outbreaks are temporarily shutting their doors. Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton is here to talk about how districts are making these decisions.

Whitefish Middle School sign on a door.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Just days after a decision to move toward more in-person classes, Whitefish Public Schools announced Monday it will stay in a hybrid model and move its middle school to all remote classes.

The change follows 16 new COVID-19 cases in the district.

A young girl in front of a computer for an online class.
iStock

Spectrum customers across the state woke up this Wednesday morning with no internet access. Schools teaching remotely during the pandemic reported issues with their students’ ability to sign into online classes.

Schools and universities with current and past COVID-19 Activity, 2020 - 2021 school year. N=58.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

State health officials Wednesday published information about COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in individual public grade schools and universities. The report shows that 68 of the state’s roughly 147,000 public school students have tested positive for COVID-19, along with another 96 cases in Montana's colleges and universities.

Lockers in an empty school hallway.
PD

Public school students in Montana may miss out on roughly $800,000 in federal aid for laptops, masks and educational services amid the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to a calculation from state education officials after the U.S. Department of Education’s plan for sharing emergency aid with private and home schools was thrown out in court.

A coronavirus testing swab in a test tube.
iStock

Some public school districts and public health officials in Montana say medical privacy laws are preventing them from working together when a positive COVID-19 case is found in a school. On Thursday, Gov. Steve Bullock’s office released new guidance on the issue.

School hallway.
iStock

School districts across Montana have been in session for a few weeks now and there have already been confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in schools. But county health departments and school districts are taking varied approaches in how they are disclosing those cases to students, parents, staff and the broader public. MTPR's Aaron Bolton talks with YPR's Nicky Ouellet about his reporting on this.

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