With large classrooms and small class sizes, Challis school board members agreed students will most likely be able to return to school buildings in August.

Challis schools Superintendent Lani Rembelski released the first draft of the fall reopening plan July 23 after meeting with her advisory committee.

The plan is split into four color-coded categories. The school district will start in green, which has been dubbed the new normal. Students and teachers will be inside buildings, but they will have to follow physical distancing guidelines and wear face coverings whenever those guidelines can’t be maintained. Seating will be spread out in the cafeteria and classrooms, and frequent hand washing will be encouraged.

If the number of COVID-19 cases in Custer County continues to grow, the district can go to the yellow level of increased precautions. Schools will be open, but face coverings will be required and lunch breaks will be staggered.

In the orange category, learning with caution, administrators will introduce a hybrid schedule. Some students will be allowed in buildings while others learn from home. At some point the two groups switch.

People inside buildings in the orange stage will be required to wear face coverings, physically distance and have their temperature checked before entering.

Red is the final phase — learn at home and stay safe. It means complete remote learning.

According to the plan, the stages can be applied to a single school or the entire district.

Rembelski told school board members she looked at several school reopening plans before putting pen to paper on a plan for Challis. The local district’s main advantage, compared to other districts, is the student population is low, she said. With spaced-out seating, increased sanitation and more training, her teachers can be equipped to teach face-to-face, Rembelski said.

She and board members agreed keeping the coronavirus out of Challis schools will be a team effort with parents.

“I definitely think this will be a parent and community commitment,” Rembelski said. Board member Trish Farr said parents need to be involved with the responsibility of keeping their children healthy and sanitary before sending them to school.

The plan also helps educate parents to determine if their children are too sick for school. The plan has a health-check questionnaire designed to make sure no sick child spreads the virus.

The full reopening plan is online at www.d181.k12.id.us/News/23#sthash.jxklI1QS.dpbs. Board members are scheduled to vote on the plan at their 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30 meeting at Challis Elementary School.