The logo of the Missoula County Public Schools.


The logo of the Missoula County Public Schools.

     Viruses taking over MCPS schools.

Viruses Taking

This time of year comes with lots of sickness which becomes very inconvenient for students and teachers in schools. From the spread of germs in schools to illnesses that are just impossible to avoid catching and these viruses are seriously affecting everyone in the schools. Currently at Sentinel High School along with other schools in the area, the following illnesses are going around; RSV, Cases of Influenza (flu) and Covid-19. The symptoms of these viruses are hard to ignore and are making students and teachers terribly sick. 

The most frequently reported symptoms that people are getting are; Fever, cough, Body aches, severe congestion and headaches . With those being the common symptoms of the viruses, people are being recommended to be tested for both Covid-19 and Influenza. These viruses are forcing students to stay home due to physically not being able to be in the school environment and to prevent the spread of virus. With so many students out sick, stress levels are at their all time high, that being because if you have to stay home from school for a few days it might be difficult to catch up on school work. Not only stress about school work but with this time of year, finals are coming up and students who are at home sick are missing test preparation. Another stressor specifically for student athletes is if they end up catching a virus they not only have to worry about their grades but they will also have to miss their sport and risk having to miss a game. 

Currently in most classes, at least two or more students are missing due to sickness;  leading to lots of stress for educators. Teachers who are in charge of properly teaching students and preparing them for tests also have to worry about keeping absent students caught up. Now teachers who are arguably underpaid are having to work extra hours to keep their students caught up. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, teachers’ use of online learning has increased drastically. Being able to teach virtually helps teachers create lessons and post them online, which is accessible to absent students. A huge site that is commonly used now for such purposes is Google Classroom. This site enables teachers to post lessons and classwork that allows students to access on any mobile device. 

Besides the huge issue of several viruses going around the schools, the other huge inconvenience is the sub shortage. There aren’t enough substitute teachers in the area, which originally became an issue in the beginning of the pandemic. Substitutes started resigning due to the risk of exposure in the schools and extremely low pay. Along with the fact that a lot of the original subs in the MCPS area started retiring a few years back and not alot of people want to face a full class with the risks that come with being in a school. With the lack of subs in the area,  students are left without teachers and are forced to combine with other classes or they get sent to the cafeteria for that class period.

The problem with teachers being absent and having no subs to fill their spot for the day is that it’s taking away from students’ motivation to go to school; students thinking even if they go to school, they won’t be learning. It is impossible for teachers to escape the risk of catching a virus if they are around it everyday. Along with that, if they do get sick they have all rights to call in sick. With all the complications in the schools it’s really not fair for anyone and is starting to frustrate many.

Before winter break, the question being asked was; “Why can’t winter break be extended by just cutting school short and having students not attend the three days before break?”. Which  made sense to many because it would help stop the spread of viruses. Even some teachers offered the idea of starting winter break earlier but the admin wasn’t able to make that decision due to curriculum and other teachers plans for the last three days of school before winter break. Crazy enough, it wasn’t from the requests from staff and students for the cancellation of the three days for break, it was canceled due to the freak incident of the roof collapsing.

Now that the holiday season is over and school is back in session till spring break, the hope is that the spread of viruses will slow down. There are approximately 143 days till the end of the 2022-2023 school year! So till then, stay safe and healthy by washing your hands and staying home if you feel under the weather.