TWIN FALLS — School is in, masks are on.
Twin Falls School District opens its doors to more than 9,000 students on Wednesday to begin the 2020-21 school year. It’s the first time students will be learning in classrooms since the district closed down in March due to COVID-19.
“As we embark on this historic school year, we hope that everyone will join together to be understanding and flexible as we provide our students with educational opportunities that will help them be successful in life,” superintendent Brady Dickinson wrote in a statement. “We are excited to open our doors and just like students and parents, we are nervous about the challenges this year might bring. It will take a team effort from students, parents, staff members, and the community to help keep our schools open.”
The district is opening in the “yellow” operation level, meaning students and staff will take part in a traditional schedule with a variety of precautionary measures meant to encourage social distancing. Everyone is required to wear a mask at school.
Trustees recently approved a tiered reopening plan that outlines four levels of district operation, from mostly normal school days to fully remote instruction.
The level of operation is chosen based on the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the community as determined by South Central Public Health District’s risk assessment.
The plan also defines how schools will deal with confirmed cases, cleaning procedures, food service precautions, and ways to mitigate situations where schools would need to close for extended periods of time.
“While we have a robust plan in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our buildings, students often mix with others out in the community,” a recent email to parents said. “Because of this, it is unlikely that we will make it through the school year without cases in our 16 schools.”
With one case or related cases in a school, the building could be closed for up to five days. With multiple unrelated cases in a school, the building could shut down indefinitely until there are no new cases for up to 15 days. And with multiple cases across multiple schools with a significant number of contacts, the whole district could shut down indefinitely until there are no new cases for up to 15 days.
The district will notify parents in the event of a confirmed case based on their child’s level of exposure: minimal, moderate or high. Parents will receive information on the classroom, period or grade level of the confirmed cases to understand the level of exposure.
“Our goal is to be as transparent as possible while protecting the privacy of our students,” the district wrote in an email to parents. “We know these are challenging times and parents may have many concerns about their children’s health and well-being
Jerome schools delay start, require masks
Jerome School District delayed its reopening until Sept. 8. The district was originally scheduled to open Monday.
The change follows a decision to require all students to wear face masks, superintendent Dale Layne wrote in a statement to parents. Face masks were previously only recommended.
“Due to this change, we anticipate some families changing their mind one way or the other on having their student attend face-to-face instruction or online,” Layne wrote. “To give our secretaries and counselors time to make schedule changes, the school start date for students has been delayed until September 8, 2020. Daily instructional time will be adjusted to make up for the lost two weeks.”
Layne said schools will open in the yellow operating level of its four-tiered plan, meaning students will attend face-to-face.