Bald Mountain from Sun Valley

A 10-year-long project to improve forest health on Bald Mountain is set to begin as soon as August. Pick up a copy of tomorrow's Idaho Mountain Express to read the full story.

The South Central Public Health District reported two new cases of COVID-19 in Blaine County on Thursday, bringing its total to 506 confirmed and 11 probable cases of COVID-19. Blaine was one of five counties in the district to report increases in their case counts, contributing to a statewide rise of 111.

As the infection rate continues to climb statewide, Gov. Brad Little directed his attention to the autumn and planning for the next school year. Locally, several popular events explore new options to proceed despite health concerns. Here are the top stories from Thursday, June 18.

• The governor has formed two new statewide committees to address educational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. One committee is working on plans to reopen public schools in the fall; the other will tackle Idaho’s “digital divide” between students with easy internet access and those without. Both committees are extensions of the governor’s K-12 Emergency Council, formed in March.

“Our goal is to successfully reopen schools in the fall and provide clear expectations for student learning and guidance to school districts as they make their decisions locally,” said Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield. “Districts are discussing approaches to reopening and how to navigate the learning environment. Many decisions are contingent upon developing and changing conditions.”

• Wood River High School graduating seniors will walk across the stage to receive their diplomas on Saturday morning, a month later than originally planned. This year’s graduation ceremony will differ a bit from ceremonies in years past. It will be held outside, on Homer Field. Guests will be spaced out on blankets and in lawn chairs to allow for social distancing, and commemorative masks will be handed out to the graduates.

The Sun Valley Community School is also holding its graduation ceremony on Saturday. Like Wood River’s ceremony, the Community School ceremony will take place with social distancing protocol in place, school spokeswoman Anneliese Turck said.

• The city of Hailey confirmed the route for this year’s restructured community-led Fourth of July Parade. Anyone can enter the parade in their own vehicles, but floats will not be allowed this year. The new route avoids Main Street in favor of side streets that pass by parks and large open spaces, so people can enjoy the parade while socially distancing.

• After cancelling the annual Wine Auction fundraiser in April, the Sun Valley Museum of Art announced this week a different solution: a three-day virtual auction, set to take place in July. Each year, the auction raises upwards of $1 million for the arts nonprofit, fully funding the organization’s myriad educational programs, which reach every student in Blaine County.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported 111 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state today, bringing the total 3,743. That's the largest single-day jump in cases since April 9's numbers jumped by 121. Since yesterday, one more person has died with the virus, leaving Idaho's COVID-19 death toll at 89, and 3,088 people have recovered.

For more top news stories, pick up a copy of tomorrow's Idaho Mountain Express, or visit mtexpress.com at any time.

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