Pocatello-Chubbuck mandates masks for students and teachers

POCATELLO — Pocatello-Chubbuck School District students and staff will have to wear masks while at school this fall.

Trustees Tuesday approved the requirement as an amendment to the district’s broader reopening plan for the upcoming school year.

Based on community feedback on the plan, which includes possible remote and in-person learning models, district leaders recommended requiring face coverings when schools are open, district spokeswoman Courtney Fisher said Tuesday.

Trustees unanimously approved the recommendation and several other amendments to the reopening plan. Other amendments include:

  • A “no-touch” student meal checkout system.
  • An extension from Aug. 4 to Aug. 14 for middle school and high school students to enroll in the district’s online learning program.
  • A requirement for online learners at the elementary level who enroll in the district’s online program to remain enrolled through the end of the trimester.

Click here for all of the amendments and here for a link to the full plan.

Fisher also addressed eagerness from patrons, students and staff to know whether classes will start in person or online when the district reopens on Aug. 24.

That depends on the level of community spread of coronavirus come August, she told EdNews. As of today, Bannock County — home to the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District — still falls within the Centers for Disease Control’s lowest level of community spread, Category 1.

If that doesn’t change by the time Pocatello-Chubbuck schools reopen, the district would implement a traditional, in-person schedule, Fisher said.

But things could change.

An increase to the CDC’s Category 2, “minimal to moderate spread,” would prompt a shift to “modified traditional learning” that would require alternating attendance schedules for a combined online and in-person model.

“Substantial spread,” Category 3, would require a shift to remote learning, with targeted, short-term or extended closures. Under this approach, Pocatello-Chubbuck’s schools would be closed.

The decision to transition between categories 1, 2 and 3 will be made in conjunction with state and local health agencies, Fisher said. “We are planning for all scenarios so we are ready to roll out whichever instructional model necessary to fit the current environment.”

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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