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Plexiglass, facemasks and hand sanitizer will be all over the Blaine County School District when classes begin next week.

With Blaine County public schools set to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 8, students, parents and staff are preparing for a school year unlike any other they’ve experienced before.

Public schools across the county are set to reopen for in-person learning four days a week, with half of all students attending on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half attending on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All students will learn online from home on Fridays.

Custodians and maintenance staff have been “working hard to get ready for the students and staff,” Blaine County School District custodian manager Clara Martin said in a recent video for parents.

That includes cleaning and sanitizing buildings and classrooms, installing plexiglass dividers between desks and in the cafeteria, and changing the air system schedule “so more fresh air is circulated throughout the building,” Martin said.

Meanwhile, some parents have taken to social media to find child care and ways to supplement their children’s learning when they aren’t in the classroom. One Facebook group aimed at “[connecting] Blaine County families, recent college & high school grads, educators, and caregivers to fill the childcare gap” has accumulated more than 300 members.

Other families are taking advantage of a new child care program at the Wood River Community YMCA, which will provide care to children on the weekdays when they aren’t in school.

The Sage School will also reopen its doors to students on Sept. 8. At the Sage School, all students will attend school four days a week—working from home on Fridays—but the student body will be divided into four groups, or “bands,” consisting of about 20 students each. The bands remain separate from each other on campus.

Two other schools in the Wood River Valley—the Syringa Mountain School and the Sun Valley Community School—brought students back earlier this week, with both kicking off the school year on Monday.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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