Missoula Superintendent Watson Switches to Zoom-only COVID-19 Reopening Meeting Day After Major Public Comment

MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson does not want Missoula parents showing up in person again.
MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson does not want Missoula parents showing up in person again.

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UPDATE (Aug 4th @ 10:30pm): Superintendent Rob Watson distributed a draft letter meant for parents to teachers and staff outlining mask mandates for the 2021-2022 school year.


A day after dozens of parents, grandparents, students, first-responders, and other community members attended the in-person Missoula County Public Schools “COVID Task Force” reopening plan meeting, with many concerned citizens sharing public comment against mask mandates for students, Superintendent Rob Watson sent out an email to MCPS Board of Trustees members letting them know that the next meeting, August 10th, will be “100% virtual format.”

With less than a week before an important meeting that will decide whether or not students, staff, and government-paid teachers will be required to place a mask over their face, Watson has closed off in-person attendance to a pivotal discussion on parental choice and the health of students.

Watson cited limited parking due to the Western Montana Fair taking place next week, but the MCPS Board of Trustee’s meeting on masks is August 10th. The Missoula Fair Grounds website shows that the Western Montana Fair does not begin until August 11th. The fair grounds website does not show any events scheduled for Tuesday, August 10th.

Watson also cited logistical issues with accommodating a large crowd, however, overflow seating and security presence was on-site during yesterdays “COVID Task Force” meeting.

In his email, Watson shared that there is capability to do a hybrid-style meetings where in-person meetings are also broadcast on online.

The COVID-19 Reopening Plan Meeting event on the MCPS website does not yet indicate that the meeting will be online-only still listing the address of the MCPS administration building as the location of the meeting.

You can read Superintendent Rob Watson’s email that he sent to the Board of Trustees this morning below:

Hello Trustees,

Thank you for your continued patience with our meeting format. I realize that in my 3-1 meetings we discussed the importance of in-person meetings. I also mentioned that 100% virtual meetings were still an option. The Hybrid format with some of you in the room and some of you at home, is difficult for discussion and conversation

I believe next Tuesday, August 10, we need to hold our Board meeting in a 100% virtual format. We have upgraded our zoom account and I believe the Board experience will be much better. If you have seen the zoom meetings done by City Council – we are using their same format. I have discussed this with Diane and she and I are in agreement regarding next Tuesday’s meeting.

I have made this recommendation for the following reasons:

1. The county fair starts on the same day and if you have ever been in our parking lots around fair time, you know that parking is a major issue. I would not want that to discourage anyone from coming to the meeting to give comments to the Board.

2. We will be discussing and deciding on face covering guidelines. Based on meetings that we have already had this week, I anticipate we will have a large crowd who wants to participate. While we can provide overflow seating, I don’t have the staff available to manage all the logistics with a large crowd.

3. As this decision has created lots of public interest, I believe this will be the best way to make sure everyone has a chance to participate and provide comment if they want to do so.

I know that some of you will be disappointed by this decision, however, I believe this is the best decision given our unique circumstances. I hope that you are able to participate at home with your own technology. If you have issues with that, please let me know asap so we can have our tech department help.

We will be sending you a zoom link asap.

Thanks, Rob

Superintendent Rob Watson email to Board of Trustees. August 4th.

Roy McKenzie

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7 Comments

  1. […] the beginning of August, MCPS Superintendent Rob Watson abruptly shutdown in-person access to a final public meeting on masks citing parking for the Western Montana Fair, even though the fair was not set to start until the […]

  2. […] Task Force” meeting, Missoula County Public School’s Superintendent Rob Watson cancelled in-person admission to the upcoming MCPS Board of Trustees Public COVID Reopening Plan Meeting set for Tuesday. Later […]

  3. Robert Sobrepena on August 5, 2021 at 8:37 am

    What a POS!

  4. […] Wednesday, Watson also changed the in-person meeting scheduled for 6pm next Tuesday to a “100% virtual fo… citing specious reasoning and hindering an open debate between parents and the Board of Trustees […]

  5. Dennis Rhodes on August 4, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    Open to the Public? Hardly! They met Monday and Tuesday, both meetings discussion between Board members was via index cards. We were not allowed to know who wanted what… Sunshine, Please!

  6. […] UPDATE (Aug 4th @ 1:20pm): Superintendent Rob Watson sent an email to Board of Trustees this morning saying that the next COVID-19 meeting would be Zoom-only citing specious reasoning. […]

  7. Anthony on August 4, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Fire that communist now!!

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