Elementary school students in the Blaine County School District will return to in-person learning in the second week of February, the district’s Board of Trustees determined Wednesday night.

Board members voted 4-1 to resume classroom learning for elementary students four days a week, starting Feb. 8. Trustee Amber Larna, who said she would rather see all students return to the classroom, cast the dissenting vote.

Citing a decline in academic performance among elementary students and evidence suggesting that the virus is less likely to spread among elementary students than among older students or adults, all five trustees agreed on the need for the district’s youngest children to return to the classroom four days a week.

“I don’t know if we will have an opportunity to get this back if [elementary students] don’t go to school now,” Trustee Gretchen Gorham said.

Under the current hybrid system, students attend in person two days per week and online three days.

While Larna advocated for middle and high school students to return to four-day-a-week classroom learning as well, other trustees said they were not yet comfortable resuming an in-person model for older students, citing the potentially higher risk of spreading the virus. The original motion made by Trustee Lara Stone—to return elementary students to classrooms on Feb. 8 and upper-level students to classrooms on March 8—was modified to only include action at the elementary level.

For more on this story, see the Friday edition of the Mountain Express.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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