BIG SKY – During its Jan. 19 meeting, the Big Sky School District School Board voted unanimously to approve a report from the School Reopening task force that recommended a delay in returning to 100 percent in-person learning.
The new timeline shifts the return to February with Ophir Middle School returning first on Feb. 9 followed by Lone Peak High School on Feb. 15. Before students return, OMS and LPHS teachers will hold a workday on Feb. 8 for teachers to prepare the facilities.
Part of the rationale for the delay, according to the task force report, is to give the administration team more time to facilitate testing and contact tracing.
According to the report, testing is up to 65 percent for both OMS and LPHS which will aid administrators in monitoring the situation.
The return will place OMS and LPHS in Learning Model Three, which will feature 100 percent of students on campus Monday through Friday during regular school hours. When possible, social distancing guidelines will be adhered to, and, if not possible, plexiglass will be erected as a barrier between students at their respective desks.
Additional precautions include staff and administrators monitoring hallways between classes, limited public restroom use, and that students will never share materials, according to the task force report.
“We are doing everything we can to make this the safest experience for the kids with the testing, and the PPE, and the distancing that we’re going to set up in the classrooms,” said Dr. Marlo Mitchem, secondary school principal. “Ultimately, we do believe kids learn best when they’re at school, all the evidence and research show that. That’s our mission to educate our kids to the best of our ability, so that they can reach their potential.”