GREAT FALLS — Great Falls Public Schools has drafted a transportation plan for the upcoming school year. They sent out a survey breaking down two plans, one with masks, and one without.
GFPS superintendent Tom Moore explained: "We're trying to achieve some physical distancing on buses and gathering information from our parents. Right now, there's a letter sent home either via email or in the mail to parents that ask for some information on their intentions regarding their children riding a bus. So we've got to know precisely which bus routes we're going to have, specific numbers of children, so we can figure out how we're going to get them physically distanced on those buses. Family groups of children can sit together in the same seats are in closer proximity. But if you're not from the same family group, they're going to have to be physically distanced on the buses."
The results of the proposal will be discussed at the August 10 GFPS board meeting.
The survey includes this introduction and overview:
- Safely transporting our bus students is a big challenge as we plan for the upcoming school year. Our number one goal is the safety of all students. It is extremely difficult to address the COVID virus impact on our school operations, including our bus operations. As a District, we’ve been intently reviewing the guidance from the Center for Disease Control, our State and our own County Health Department. An initial plan for our District is included below and will be further developed before school starts. It will remain flexible as conditions evolve along with addressing any new guidance we may receive. We are requesting your assistance to further define and operationalize our plan.
- Please understand that we are making every effort to find the balance of maintaining a safe bus environment while operating an efficient system that delivers over 5,200 students to twenty-one schools including Early Leaning, elementary, middle, and high schools.
- Masks - for the safety of all students on the bus, we highly recommend that each student wear a mask. We encourage parents to obtain a mask that fits their children well. If your child forgets their mask, one will be available for use. Loaned masks will be recollected and laundered on a daily basis on each route. The mask protocol allows for maximum safe seating capacity on the bus. I encourage you to review the recommended guidelines for seating with and without masks. We understand that there may be parents who may not agree with this standard. A logical option would be for parents to transport unmasked children.
- Hand Sanitizer - As students enter the bus, hand sanitizer will be available and it is requested that all students use it, again, for all students’ safety.
- Assigned Seating – Assigned seating has been a requirement in the past, but it is critical this year to help with contact tracing if necessary.