BILLINGS - Billings Public Schools announced Tuesday they will return to a pre-COVID schedule next fall.

"We will begin school on Monday, Aug. 23, next year in a six period standard format," Superintendent Greg Upham said.

According to Superintendent Upham, an international survey shows widespread support within the district for the traditional model.

That survey asked faculty and staff members at the middle and high school level whether they prefer the six period model, or the block scheduling model currently in place.

The results show that 75% of middle school respondents and 60% of high school respondents support the six periods per day model over block scheduling.

The new school year will also be limited to in-classroom learning. Since, Upham says, remote learning has serious disadvantages for students.

"We've decided not to offer a standalone remote section, moving forward. Why? Well, we feel students in live instruction outperform students in remote... Our staff feel that students in the live instruction have a better chance of catching up, filling those gaps, getting the support they need instructionally," Upham said.

There is a cost factor as well, Upham added. It costs the district an extra $5 million per year to operate with remote learning.

Even with Federal COVID Grants in place for the next two years, there is not enough money available to continue with remote learning long-term, Upham said.

Upham says the system will still offer alternative education programs to students who require accommodations.

As for whether students will need to be masked in the fall or not, that is still to be determined.

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