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As the new school year begins in eastern Idaho, the majority of large school districts are preparing to have students in class on nearly all days of the week.

Sugar-Salem School District started its school year Aug. 19 in Madison County, one of the two counties in eastern Idaho that have not yet received a mask mandate. Students are attending school five days a week, with masks encouraged for teachers and students but not required. Students get a temperature check before they enter the school building and have dedicated water bottles and headphones to use throughout the day.

Rich Garner, the principal at Central Elementary School in Sugar City, said the school has not seen any problems during its first few days of classes.

“All our patrons and staff have been very supportive and excited to have students back in face-to-face education,” Garner said.

Eastern Idaho Public Health currently has mask mandates in place for six of its eight counties. The mandates also require masks in schools. Some district plans include a mask requirement of their own, while others will leave the choice up to teachers or students after the public health order ends. All districts have released plans that include more intense cleaning and sanitation, efforts to socially distance students during classes and limits on nonessential large events.

Here is what the start of the school year will look like for six of the largest school districts in the region:

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  • District size: 11,103 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Aug. 31

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  • Days attending school: In-person classes Monday-Thursday, online lessons or individualized work Fridays.

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  • Masks: Required in most places throughout schools by district plan. Required in classrooms right now by Eastern Idaho Public Health mandate.

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: Staff or student with a positive test quarantine for 10 days after first symptoms, anyone in close contact isolates for 14 days.

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  • Online option: D91 Online Academy created this summer.

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  • District size: 14,395 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Aug. 31

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  • Days attending school: In-person classes Tuesday-Friday, online lessons or individualized work Mondays. K-6 students have regular classes every other Monday.

n Masks: Required by school plan and current health district

  • mandate

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: School closed for 24 hours, quarantined at least 10 days for anyone with a positive test and 14 days for anyone in close contact.

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  • Online option: Bonneville Online Elementary School and Bonneville Online High School, which has been in place for several years.

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  • District size: 5,415 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Aug. 26

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  • Days attending school: Five days a week.

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  • Masks: Highly recommended by school plan; not required by Eastern Idaho Public Health.

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: May close affected schools for 1-2 days for disinfection, temperature checks when school reopens, affected students/staff will quarantine until medically cleared.

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  • Online option: Fully online option and hybrid option available.

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  • District size: 3,813 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Aug. 25 for grades K-9, Aug. 26 for grades 10-12.

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  • Days attending school: Alternating two days a week in-person and two days online.

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  • Masks: Required by district and Southeast Idaho Public Health.

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: Parts of the school where the student or staff member was will be closed for three days of cleaning. Anyone in close contact will isolate for up to 14 days.

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  • Online option: Classes in core subjects available at all grade levels.

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  • District size: 1,898 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Aug. 31

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  • Days attending school: Five days a week.

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  • Masks: Required by school plan and Eastern Idaho Public Health order unless outdoors and able to distance.

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: Students or staff with positive test isolate 14 days/until medically cleared. The district will consult the health district about classroom and school closures.

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  • Online option: Teton Online School available for all grades, virtual hybrid lessons available for grades 6-12.

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  • District size: 6,321 students enrolled last fall.

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  • Start date: Sept. 2

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  • Days attending school: Five days a week.

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  • Masks: Required in the county by Eastern Idaho Public Health order, only required when not able to socially distance in the school plan.

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  • Plan for coronavirus cases: Anyone with a positive test or in close contact to a confirmed case isolates for 10 days, as long as no symptoms occur.

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  • Online option: Rigby Virtual Academy created over the summer.

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

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