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BSSD sells bond, preps for reopening options

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By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – The Big Sky School District school board met on July 21 with the primary focus of the meeting on the Reopening Taskforce, who led the discussion for the district’s process for possibly reopening school this fall.

BSSD currently has five learning models in place to consider ranging from full to partial distancing learning. The task force is currently in the preliminary stages of discussion and have not made any decisions yet, but are working closely with the Gallatin City-County Health Department school liaison and recently conducted a consultation walk-through with Matrix Medical Consultants, who recommend best practices for health safety.

The learning models are as follows.

1. 100 percent distance / virtual learning. 

2. 50 percent in-person, 50 percent virtual / distance learning. 

3. 100 percent in-person learning with restrictions. 

4. 100 percent in person learning, no restrictions, full operations. 

5. 100 percent in person kindergarten through seventh grade, 50 percent in person / virtual learning eighth grade through 12th grade.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet on how were going to reopen this year, but we have many plans in place that depend on everything going on in the fall,” said District Superintendent Dustin Shipman in a July 23 phone interview.

BSSD is also in the process of collecting input from parents and teachers within the school district. Initial results can be found on their website, with data collection currently ongoing. As of right now, model No. 3, 100 percent in-person learning with restrictions is preferred by those who answered the survey.

Board members emphasized that measures were being taken to research the effects that these different models would have on the development of students in each age group, including impacts to social and emotional health. They also discussed the importance of sports.

Under any model, the school campus will have temperature check stations at each entrance and staff will be fully trained on distance learning software.

Also discussed at the meeting was the announcement that the school bond that was approved by voters in the spring was sold at a good interest rate, freeing up funds for much-needed upgrades to the quickly-growing school district. With the bond, the school district hopes to expand their vocational offerings, allowing students a broader range of educational opportunities.

The next BSSD board meeting, including an update from the Reopening Taskforce, will take place on July 30 at 1 p.m.

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