D91 Board of Trustees

Hillary Radcliffe discusses the pros and cons of when to open D91 schools during a Board of Trustees board meeting at Compass Academy on Thursday, August 20, 2020.

Idaho Falls School District 91 will return to a full five-day school schedule for the third trimester and keep its current mask requirement in place.

The district's board of trustees voted on both items during a school board work session Tuesday afternoon, after delaying the decision from earlier this month to gather more information and make sure the Bonneville County COVID-19 numbers stayed low.

"We're in a much more stable place right now. That gives us a little bit of bandwidth, a better time frame to move forward with opening up," trustee Hillary Radcliffe said.

The school schedule change will be in place beginning March 8 under the "green phase" approved by the district in the fall. Up to this point in the school year, Fridays had been reserved for teachers' professional development or work with smaller numbers of students to keep them from falling behind.

The schedule change was unanimously approved by the school board. The vote on continuing the mask requirement whenever social distancing cannot be done passed 4-1, with Paul Haacke voting against.

Haacke pointed to the comparatively low numbers of student coronavirus cases in the Madison and Jefferson school districts, which had looser mask recommendations. He supported giving teachers the ability to choose whether to require masks within their classes.

Trustee Larry Wilson made for the official proposal for the mask mandate. After talking to every principal in the district over the last few weeks, Wilson said there was overwhelming support from the administrators and teachers for keeping the mandate.

"We need to go to the source of people dealing with masks every day," Wilson said. "It's not fair to put this on teacher discretion because it can cause so many issues from one classroom to another."

Brennen is the main education reporter for the Post Register. Contact him with news tips at 208-542-6711.