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We are 15- and 18-year old siblings, born and raised in Bozeman. One of us is a freshman at Boston University, a campus that is using a blended model of learning despite having mandated twice-weekly testing and a test positivity rate of less than 0.1%. The other is a sophomore at Bozeman High, a school considering full-time in person learning even though the test positivity rate in Gallatin County is 3.5%.

Like many Bozeman students, we value our education, along with the health and safety of our family. Our father has a preexisting medical condition that puts him at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. If the school board votes to return to complete in person education, one of us will have to make the choice between her education and her family, which is a decision no child should be forced to make.

It is unethical and abhorrent to further risk teachers’ lives to capitulate to the wishes of parents who have made an ill-considered and impulsive decision, and it shows a blatant disregard for the lives of the community members who will be affected by a potential COVID-19 outbreak in the schools.

Yes, three days of remote learning can pose challenges for students and teachers, but it is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our community. If there is a coronavirus outbreak in any Bozeman school, the district will be forced to return to completely online learning, which will create far more learning difficulties than the current model.

In order to ensure the best educational outcomes for Bozeman students and to protect the lives of everyone around us, we urge the school board to vote against moving to full-time in person learning.

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Grace and Claire Rembert

Bozeman