Two separate reopening guides for Montana schools were released on Thursday, one from the governor’s office and the other from the state’s office of public instruction. Neither document is an order, but were presented as ideas for schools to consider when reopening.

Montana’s K-12 schools shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s still unclear exactly how they plan to reopen for students this fall.

A generic photo of a school crossing sign.
Rafael Sato/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Billings Public Schools are opening an investigation into a middle school principal following the possible connection to social media posts a local superintendent calls "appalling."

The Montana Supreme Court discriminated against religious schools when it invalidated a tax credit program that supported school choice, according to a ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

McMullen Hall at Montana State University Billings
University Relations, MSU Billings / Yellowstone Public Radio

Some university faculty in Montana want the option of requiring students to wear face coverings when the fall semester starts.

The U.S. Department of Education is changing its guidance on how federal coronavirus relief funding for public school districts will be shared with private schools.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will send roughly $41 million to Montana’s public schools. Earlier this year, there was debate about how much of that money federal education officials wanted to pass through public districts to support private schools.

That decision is now up to school districts.

Linda Rost, Montana’s 2020 Teacher of the Year
Courtesy of Linda Rost


This story is part of a series about ways Montana found lasting adaptations during the shutdown. It’s funded in part by the Solutions Journalism Network.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person classes for K-12 schools across the state, teachers and staff scrambled to continue education remotely. 

Several students at Cottonwood Elementary in Gallatin County, Montana work on projects while staying socially distanced on May 28, 2020.
Rachel Cramer/Yellowstone Public Radio

While most Montana schools decided to finish out the year online, some of the smaller, more rural districts opted to reopen under new guidelines. Cottonwood Elementary in Gallatin County started in-person learning last week.

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 University of Montana’s executive vice president and provost is leaving for a new position in online education.

The University hired outgoing Provost Jon Harbor just over two years ago. Harbor came to Missoula from Purdue University, where he served as an associate vice provost and the executive director of digital education.

Montana public school districts will receive roughly $41 million of relief funding in about two weeks. Schools say they need that money for things like buying masks, special cleaning equipment and supplies so they can open in the fall. New guidance from the U.S. Department of Education says private school students will receive an increased share of that funding.

Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton spoke with MTPR News Director Corin-Cates Carney to explain.