Stanley School students are excited for their upcoming trip to the McCall Outdoor Science School, according to their teacher Ashley Reese, but the COVID-19 pandemic might prevent them from going.

Although he’s so new he doesn’t yet have a name, Mackay cheerleading coach Amber Hulse said the Mackay Miners mascot got a chance to shine before the student body at a pep assembly held the first week of school.

Although they are still developing an application process, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials will use $30 million to make sure Idaho school districts that want to test for COVID-19 have the option.

Challis student athletes will ride on the district’s coach-style activity buses to district and state tournaments only after school board members chose to limit use of those buses. Board members also approved the purchase of a new yellow activity bus.

With the penalty for using coach-style travel buses causing the Challis School District to lose between $53,000 and $68,000 a year for three years now, Transportation Director Blain Aldous said it might be time to switch to a fleet of yellow buses only.

Challis students and teachers will use a science curriculum from the Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt publishing company for the next five years after school board members approved the $48,000 purchase.

Mackay students will now pay $200 to take driving lessons, and for the first time, people who don’t attend school in the district can pay $275 to join them.

For $95,000 a year, plus a mileage reimbursement when she uses her auto to conduct official school business outside the district, Lani Rembelski will continue to work as the Challis schools superintendent and elementary school principal.

Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the Challis High School graduation ceremony, scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23 in the gym. No COVID-19 restrictions will be in place.

New budgets were set for public school teachers and for higher education last week, after the previous versions were voted down in the House.

Daybell Disappearance

Angie Dodge archive

The Idaho House rejected $40.3 million in federal COVID aid funds for voluntary COVID-19 testing in public and private schools next year, with opponents decrying testing as unneeded and one falsely claiming that children can’t carry the COVID-19 virus.

Although graduation usually occurs on June 1, Salmon School District Superintendent Chris Born said school board members pushed this year’s ceremony back because of the coronavirus.

The Mackay School District could only have just two regular bus drivers next year, half the number Transportation Supervisor Mike Winters would like.

While plans are far from final, Challis School District administrators want to hold a traditional graduation ceremony in the high school gym at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23.

Challis High School academic team members competed in the regional competition on March 12, along with 20 other teams from throughout Idaho.

Challis second-graders spent Read Across America day celebrating Dr. Seuss with high school members of the Leah O'Keefe chapter of the National Honor Society.

Mackay school board members will review prices for split-seat and bench-seat buses next month after authorizing Transportation Supervisor Mike Winters to get prices for both.

Voters in the Challis School District determine March 9 whether to approve a $600,000, two-year supplemental levy for the district.

Concerns about possible side effects from second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations prompted Mackay school board members to cancel school for a day, giving employees a day off after receiving their second shot.

Challis Elementary School saw “firsthand where the good people in our community helped spread happiness and hope for a better future,” teacher and student council advisor Ed Gregory said of the difficulties associated with 2020.

The number of people allowed inside the Challis High School gym has increased to 276, following a change in Gov. Brad Little’s COVID-19 sporting events plan.

With Mackay students back in classrooms following winter break, Principal Stephanie Green said everyone is doing their best to prevent another COVID-19 spike in the district.

With two new students at Stanley School, teacher Lisa Muscavage said all nine grade levels will be filled at the small school for the first time in several years.

In compliance with Gov. Brad Little’s loosened restrictions on high school athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic, Challis Athletic Director Linda Zollinger has sectioned off 32, 12-by-12 squares in the Challis High School gym bleachers.

Ahead of their January board meetings, Challis and Mackay school superintendents said it’s up in the air if college entrance exams will be required for members of the class of 2021.

More than half the students in the Challis School District have their own Chromebooks and the rest of the students will have their personal computers by February.

Challis schools Superintendent Lani Rembelski informed board members at a Dec. 8 meeting that the district will need to ask voters on March 9 for an additional $200,000 per year in their biennial supplemental levy.

With several of her students quarantining at home due to four positive coronavirus cases within the Mackay School District, music teacher Michelle Peterson said she had to push back filming their virtual Christmas concert.

Food service directors in Challis, Mackay, Salmon and Arco schools said students will have increased opportunities to try their food since the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended the free meals program for the rest of the school year.

With health experts asking people to not travel for Christmas due to the coronavirus, and winter break starting in a week or so in Challis, Mackay, Arco and Salmon schools, local educators say it will be on parents to keep the virus out of schools.

Serving Challis School District students healthy, tasty meals this year has been riddled with frustrations, according to district Food Service Director Sara Jones.

Challis school board members officially made completing a senior project a requirement for 2021 graduates at their Nov. 10 meeting after State Board of Education partially waived the requirement for seniors across Idaho.

As Custer County returned to the low-risk transmission level for the coronavirus, Mackay school board members considered requiring face masks in the low, green level of their response plan.

In spite of the decision by the Idaho State Board of Education to waive the senior project requirement for graduation this school year, seniors in Custer County should be prepared to complete their projects.

As his students ripped miniature whiffle balls across the Challis High School football field with golf clubs earlier this month, physical education teacher Ed Gregory made sure rules were being followed.

With input from parents and staff, Challis school board members adjusted the COVID-19 athletic events plan during a special board meeting Oct. 21.

In the face of students’ lackluster response to the current face coverings requirement within the Challis School District, board members chose to loosen the rule, among others, in their COVID-19 response plan at a special Oct. 21 meeting.

With federal and state coronavirus relief money, several accounts used to keep the Challis School District operational during the pandemic received approval at an Oct. 13 school board meeting.

The coronavirus response plans adopted by the Challis and Mackay school districts have been adjusted now that school has been in session for several weeks.

When Custer County returned to the minimal-risk category related to the coronavirus, it prompted officials with the Challis and Mackay school districts to return to the green phases of their operating plans.

After delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Challis schools Food Director Sarah Jones said elementary students will get to munch on free, fresh fruits and vegetables again starting Sept. 21 thanks to a $9,675 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

After some confusion earlier in the pandemic, Mackay school board members and Superintendent Susan Buescher clarified how federally expanded sick leave for teachers and staff will work going forward at a special board meeting held Sept. 8.

Plans for extracurricular activities in the Challis school district and bus routes for the school year pegged to begin Aug. 26 are on the agenda for the Tuesday, Aug. 11 school board meeting.

Challis school board members have awarded contracts for fuel, propane and garbage collection for the coming school year.

Challis students will see a 5 cent increase for breakfast and lunch next year, after school board members approved the increase at their July 14 meeting.