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Flathead County schools formulate back-to-school bus plan

Posted at 8:32 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 22:32:52-04

KALISPELL — Flathead Valley school districts have bus plans in place, keeping students safe for potential coronavirus exposure.

Per Gov. Steve Bullock's orders, buses are limited to 50 students.

Bigfork superintendent Matt Jensen told MTN News that Bigfork students are required to sit in family groups, wear a mask and have assigned seats. Jensen said having assigned seats is important for contact tracing if a student does contract the virus.

"The bus will not let the students off the bus until the previous bus has completely unloaded," said Jensen." And so, we're not mixing at the drop-off spot at the school our eight different bus loads to mix again."

Jensen said that each building will have separate entrances for students to avoid mixing various grade levels.

"We're going to have six-to-seven entry points for each building and they'll enter by grade level so we don't have a big congestion spot near the entry points," he said.

Somers-Lakeside School District Superintendent Joe Price said that their district requirements are similar. Students must also wear masks, sit in assigned seats and stay in family groups.

"We know that if we can't put more than 50 students on a bus, we can't transport all the students that we normally do because our bus capacity is 70-80," said Price.

Price said that the district asked parents in a survey if they could provide transportation for their child. He says 80% said they could and says the district will rely heavily on this.

"Asking parents to provide transportation if they can, is going to be our best solution for getting everybody to school," said Price.

Kalispell, one of the larger school districts with over 6,000 students, has the same plan.

Superintendent Micah Hill said that masks are required, students will sit in assigned seats and family groups. All districts that MTN News spoke with said buses will be sanitized in between students and that they must remain flexible during this uncertain times.

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