Schools to have more flexibility for remote learning during pandemic

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive July 31 to provide flexibility for local school districts to provide remote or offsite education in order to protect students and teachers from the spread of COVID-19 when schools reopen this fall.

"As fall approaches, schools are working hard to plan for the school year in light of the ongoing pandemic. Many districts may choose to offer a blend of in-classroom and remote learning to balance safety with the educational needs of their students," he said. "This directive will ensure that schools are able to make the choices to provide the best educational opportunities available, no matter where those students may live."

Current law limits the ability of districts who serve out-of-district students to provide off-site delivery of educational services to those students. The directive waives current residency requirements to allow school districts to provide educational services at an offsite instructional setting, including the provision of services through electronic means, to any pupil who (a) meets the residency requirements for that district as provided in § 1-1-215, MCA; (b) resides in the same county as the district; or (c) resides in a school district immediately adjacent to the district.

"There are many school districts serving children from out of district throughout Montana whose options for providing virtual education were limited under the current law," said Lance Melton, Executive Director of the Montana School Boards Association. "Gov. Bullock’s order temporarily waiving the residency requirement for virtual education will help school districts throughout Montana finalize their reopening plans in a manner that will provide safe and effective learning environments, including virtual learning options for resident and nonresident students alike. We appreciate the Governor’s quick action on this important topic."