BCSD First Day Masks

Students and staff all wore masks during the first week of school.

After months of planning, debate, and special school board meetings, the first day of school in the Blaine County School District largely went off without a hitch, according to reports from school district officials.

Tuesday marked the first day back in the classroom for half of all public-school students in Blaine County, with the other half learning from home on Tuesday and returning to the classroom Wednesday.

Despite significant adjustments to routine and new safety measures in place, the start of the 2020-21 school year went, for the most part, as smoothly as could be hoped for, Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

District office employees—including Holmes—boarded school buses at 5:30 a.m. to help children adjust to new social distancing practices. At Wood River High School, Principal John Pearce handed out three masks to students who did not come with their own. At Alturas Elementary School, students ate lunch in their classrooms—a change of scenery from the usual cafeteria meal.

There was just one “mask issue,” Holmes said, which occurred at Hailey Elementary School when a parent did not want their child to wear a mask. The child ultimately put on a face shield, Holmes said, and the parent, who was not allowed inside the school, had a conversation with the school’s principal outside the building.

The number of children enrolled at Alturas, Hailey and Bellevue Elementary Schools as of the first day of school was slightly lower than had been previously projected, Holmes said.

“It appears there are families there who are struggling with not having five days a week for their students and are looking for other alternatives,” Holmes said.

The Blaine County School District kicked off the school year with a hybrid learning plan, which means half of all students in the classroom on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other half in the classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students work online on the days they aren’t physically in school, and all students work from home on Fridays.

As of Thursday morning, there were nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 being actively monitored in Blaine County. A total of 590 confirmed cases and 18 probable cases have been reported in the county since March.

Email the writer: gkauffman@mtexpress.com

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