Photo by Jana Bounds

Strategic staggering

K-12 now in person learning, middle school and high school to follow

Big Sky School District #72 (BSSD) board of trustees made the strategic decision to stagger 100% in person learning at the regular meeting on Jan. 19. Now, K-5 students are in their third week of 100% in person learning and the current plan is for Ophir Middle School students to return completely to in person learning on Feb. 9 and for Lone Peak High School to follow suit on Feb. 15.

BSSD Superintendent Dustin Shipman explained it is a busy time of year with student ski days, the PSAT and the end of the semester.

“Frankly, our [Coronavirus testing] numbers were up. We wanted to give some time for the school [cases] to settle down a little bit,” he said and explained that the spike could have been related to the holiday bump seen in the community “and we are seeing the numbers going back down.”

He pointed-out that last week they tested over 250 people, both adults and children, and had zero positive results.

Recently, he wrote in a newsletter that the task force for returning to school continues to work on plans for the students to get back to in person learning safely and with as many students as possible.

“The Big Sky School District is extremely lucky to have the capacity to test nearly our entire school community weekly, this feedback allows us to identify a positive case, isolate that person and remove those who could have been closely exposed. Consequently, that allows us to mitigate, to the extent possible, any spread happening in the school environment,” he wrote.

All this Covid-19 testing in the community has created some confusion. Students are not to take the surveillance test if they have symptoms. They need to go to the Big Sky Medical Center for a different test, he explained.

“There have been some cases where a community test (meant for 18+ years of age) has been picked up and registered in the child’s name. This creates a significant issue for the school and we have to spend time reconciling that registration. Please, if you take a test from the community testing, use it only for an adult,” he wrote.

The district is seeking volunteers to help with data processing the activation of tests at the elementary building. Those interested should contact Shipman directly.

The dashboard for testing results can be viewed at

More Information

Lone Peak Lookout

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