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BSSD to return to 100 percent in-person learning

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By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – At an emergency board meeting on Jan. 5, the Big Sky School District board and Reopening Task Force voted unanimously in favor to return K-5 students to 100 percent in-person learning after starting the school year with a hybrid model, effective Monday, Jan. 11.

At a Dec. 15 board meeting, BSSD’s board approved the task force to move forward with adopting Learning Model 3, a 100 percent return of students to the classroom daily with online remote learning as an option. Since then, the Task Force finalized their plan—a comprehensive version of the plan and COVID-19 testing data can be found on the BSSD website. The return date was set for two weeks following the holidays to ensure a final round of COVID-19 testing.

As a part of the 100 percent in-person learning model, students and teachers will participate in daily temperature checks, COVID-19 tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays, remain masked on campus and have Plexiglas dividers between generously spaced desks. BSSD will also produce a video walk-through of the classrooms so parents can view the planned setting beforehand.

“Success for any American school is going to be keeping kids on grade level by the end of this school year … and I think we’ll be one of them,” said BSSD board chair Loren Bough. Bough noted that the effort of returning students to the classroom is also to aid working parents in the community.

Regularly testing staff and students, according to board members, will be key in remaining open and if a positive test is confirmed, the superintendent or principal will notify the parent, consult with the teacher and work with Bozeman Health contact tracers at Big Sky Medical Center.

The school board also voted unanimously in favor of the outlined plan for upcoming home basketball games as well as transportation methods to away games. These safety measures include: allowing only two spectators per player, sanitizing the gym between games and requiring masks and temperature checks.

Bough also noted that BSSD is taking more precautions with sports programs than anyone else in the school district. Superintendent Dustin Shipman said that allowing sports, as well as limited spectators, was an important decision for the board since extra-curricular activities are instrumental to the mental wellness of their students—it’s a place where “kids can be kids,” Shipman said.

The next scheduled BSSD board meeting is on Jan. 19 at 3:45 p.m.

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