MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson answers questions about the conversation
After the most difficult and disruptive school year in state history due to the COVID 19 pandemic, MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson appeared on Tuesday’s Talk Back show and spoke some of the lessons learned last school year that will be used this fall.
“When we have teachers out of the classroom we have to use substitute teachers and for years and years the substitute teachers have been going from building to building and they can be in five different schools for a period of time. week, ”Watson said. “But this year, because of COVID, we’ve switched to permanent contractors, which are basically substitute teachers who stay in a building for the entire week. It costs a little more because you have to guarantee them that they will have five days of work. But on the other hand, they start to build relationships with children. Children know who they are. They see them as another member of the staff.
Watson also said that the schedules for the new school year will give high school students some extra sleep.
“We moved the start time of high school back to 8:55 a.m. from closer to 7:50 a.m. or 8 p.m. the previous year,” he said. “So we think that little bit of extra time is going to really help and I think that’s a huge advantage. So this is something that we will try to maintain in the future.
As for the issue of face coverings for students next school year, Watson said the district is still awaiting federal health guidelines.
“The masks have not yet been decided,” he said. “We’re kind of waiting for advice from the CDC, especially around schools. I know the CDC has issued more general guidelines regarding vaccinated people wearing masks, but they are expected to issue specific school guidelines in the coming weeks. So we’ll take a look at this before making any decisions about face coverings. “
Regarding controversial subjects taught in Missoula public schools, Watson said the administration will respect OPI, but will not hesitate to discuss difficult topics.
“It will never be our job to alienate a certain group of children because of what they believe or because of their race or something like that,” he said. “So our job is to really welcome children and make sure they feel comfortable in our classrooms. But that said, there are some controversial topics that we need to talk about. It is not only part of our curriculum, but it is also part of state standards. When it comes to Social Studies and English, you also see controversial topics there. And that’s not something we’re going to avoid. We need to talk about these things.
Watson replaced Mark Thane as superintendent and, in his first full year, had to deal with the COVID pandemic.