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Staff shortages force some Montana schools to move to remote learning

Wooden classroom desks
Wooden classroom desks

Students in Darby will switch to distance learning for the rest of the week because the school district doesn't have enough staff to keep its doors open.

In a message to parents, Superintendent Chris Toynbee said the Bitterroot Valley district doesn’t have enough teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers or substitutes. Toynbee’s message didn't provide a specific reason for the staffing shortage.

Transitional kindergarten through second graders will be sent home with assignments for the next two days. Third through 12th graders will move to an online format.

This Thursday and Friday were already scheduled as "no school" days.

Toynbee’s message to parents said in-person instruction resumes Monday, Oct. 25, “If our employees are healthy.”

The AP reports the Glasgow school district is also remote this week due to staff shortages. Superintendent Wade Sundby announced last Friday that classes would not be held Monday through Wednesday.

“Due to substitute shortages in the Glasgow School District, we are unable to provide a high quality education for our students,” he wrote on the school district website.

Meanwhile, students in Augusta, about an hour northwest of Helena, are shifting to online learning this week after COVID-19 cases were detected in the schools.

Augusta Public Schools Superintendent Kim Ramorini sent a letter to parents on Friday notifying them about two COVID cases; since then more cases have been detected affecting multiple grade levels.

Ramorini says the plan is to return to in-person learning next Monday. That’s also when schools in Livingston plan to bring students back into the classroom after the middle school and high school there went online as a result of high COVID-19 transmission.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.
Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.