They’re back! Most Idaho schools open their doors

The return from Spring Break this week for the majority of Idaho students also comes with a return to full in-person instruction.

Students in Idaho’s largest districts spent the winter months in either a hybrid or remote learning model, which will change in the coming weeks.

All five of the state’s largest school districts will be running an in-person model of education by the end of the month:

  • West Ada: All students start on March 30. Classes four days per week, with Mondays being used as a remote learning day while administrators can contact trace.
  • Boise: Secondary students start on March 29. Elementary students have been in school since March 9. School weeks will be five days in class.
  • Nampa: Secondary students start on March 29. Elementary students have been in classes since January. Classes are four days per week.
  • Bonneville: Students have been in classes since March 8.
  • Pocatello: Students have been in classes since March 1.

Other metro-area districts, including Caldwell (March 29), Kuna (April 5) and Vallivue (March 16), will be back for in-person instruction by the first week of April. A statewide map of school district operating plans is available here.

Of the five largest districts, West Ada, Boise, Nampa and Pocatello will still have mask requirements for students and staff members when they return to classes. Bonneville trustees voted to change the mask requirement during the board’s February meeting. Face coverings are still encouraged — but not required — by the district.

Students are also returning to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that were issued on March 19. The new guidance changes the recommended spacing between students from 6 feet to 3 feet if masks are being worn.

This guidance says that elementary students should have 3 feet of space while secondary students should have 3 feet of space in areas of low, moderate or substantial community transmission. If community transmission is high, secondary students should maintain a 6-foot distance. If students cannot wear masks, then the distance between them should be 6 feet.

All adults, including teachers and staff, should maintain a 6-foot distance.

Leaders in schools that are returning to in-person instruction, especially high schools, have said it will be impossible to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between students since the schools don’t have the space.

School districts that are in-person have distancing guidances in their operational plans, which can only be changed by the board of trustees. District officials from Kuna and Nampa said the new CDC guidance will be something discussed by the boards during April meetings.

Boise School District Public Affairs Administrator Dan Hollar said the district will be working with Central District Health to see what their options are coming out of Spring Break.

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