District 93 reopening plan gets approved after ‘a few key changes’ are made

EastIdahoNews.com file photo

IDAHO FALLS — Families and teachers in Bonneville Joint School District 93 now know what they can expect this school year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email sent to families of District 93 students last week, Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said the district’s plan to reopen schools was approved by the D93 school board and Eastern Idaho Public Health. The announcement comes after the district asked for input from parents and teachers, and after they took into consideration Eastern Idaho Public Health’s COVID-19 Regional Response Plan.

RELATED: District 93 shares reopening plan for school year, asking for feedback

“We definitely spent a long time on the plan,” Woolstenhulme told EastIdahoNews.com. “We really started clear back right at the end of the school year with our first plan (that) was actually our plan to open up for summer school, which we did in June. That’s (what) the foundation of the (four-phase) plan is based on.”

Woolstenhulme said he thought the original draft they sent out to parents and teachers was solid, but after doing so, EIPH announced the COVID-19 Regional Response Plan. The district wanted to make sure their plan aligned with the health district’s plan.

“It’s been a long process but it’s been good because I feel like we’ve had lots of input from people and that’s helped us to get it fine-tuned and as good as it could possibly be,” Woolstenhulme said.

The district’s plan is still based on four different phases, which correspond to the four risk levels in the COVID-19 Regional Response Plan. At the moment Bonneville County is listed at moderate risk, and if it remains at that risk when school starts, District 93 will begin in Phase 2.

RELATED: Health board unanimously passes order mandating masks in Bonneville County

Some of the changes to the district’s plan, since it was originally announced include:

  • In both Phase 1 and Phase 2, students will attend school in person. Kindergarten to 6th grade will go Monday through Friday with the second and fourth Mondays spent at home doing online learning. For students in 7th grade through 12th grade, they will attend Tuesday through Friday. Online learning will take place every Monday.
  • In Phase 3, students will attend school on alternating days based on last names. Those with last names A-K will attend on Tuesday and Thursday and people with last names L-Z will attend on Wednesday and Friday. The assigned days for families will change after Jan. 1.
  • Students and staff will be required to wear masks in Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3.

When it comes to wearing masks, Woolstenhulme said once EIPH released their plan and the school district looked more into what the health district’s expectations are, they felt it was best to require masks in all three phases.

“In discussions with Eastern Idaho Public Health, (it) felt like that’s the safest course of action to keep our students safe, to keep our teachers safe and to keep our community safe,” he said.

The plan also explains that the district will begin working with school principals to provide online learning options for families from their home schools. More information on that is expected to be released within the coming weeks.

Another change is that there won’t be a Back to School night the week before school. Instead, schools will schedule times on the first day of school, which is Aug. 31, for parents to bring their children to school to meet teachers and drop off belongings.

“Again, that’s really based on the fact that we’re living under this public health order right now that limits public and private gatherings to no more than 150 people,” Woolstenhulme said. “Our Back to School nights, we always have several hundred people in the building at the same time, and in the hallways, (which) is the biggest problem.”

Another announcement made in the plan is that Idaho High School Activities Association events will continue in the first three Phases and will only be suspended in Phase 4. However, to comply with EIPH orders, spectators at IHSAA events will be limited in Phases 2 and 3.

Woolstenhulme said once school starts if there are parts of the plan they decide need to be adapted or changed, they will evaluate making those adjustments.

“It doesn’t matter really what decision we make, there’s going to be people that are upset (and) that feel like we’re not listening. We really tried hard to listen to people,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is that we’ve got people with lots of different opinions and it’s impossible to create a plan that’s going to satisfy every individual’s personal viewpoints.”

For more detailed information about the plan, click here.

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the plan can be read here.

The four-phase plan for District 93. | Courtesy District 93

Courtesy District 93

Courtesy District 93

Courtesy District 93