White Pine donations

The box for donated ear clips and face masks outside the front door of White Pine Charter School.

White Pine Charter School has laid out three potential plans for the return to school in the fall.

The board of directors for the public charter school voted Wednesday night to approve a preliminary operations plan for the upcoming school year. The preliminary plan is going out for feedback from parents over the next week, which will help revise the options before the board makes an official decision in August.

One proposed path would see students returning to class largely as normal, though with social distancing precautions in place such as fewer desks in each classroom and staggered lunch periods. A second path would be exclusively online lessons, similar to what the school did during the spring. The third option presented is a staggered rotation, with students in the building for two days each week and learning online for the other three days.

While some board members said they felt pressure to show they were working to plan the next school year, they also wanted to emphasize that the survey results from families would play a role in their final decision. The board suggested it would pursue both online and in-person options to adapt to however the coronavirus spreads in eastern Idaho this fall.

“It’s a scenario where we can move into one of the three plans at any time,” chairwoman EmmaLee Robinson said during the board meeting.

All three possible paths laid out for the board would include changes in the class schedule for the fall, especially for the older students at White Pine STEM Academy. In-person classes at White Pine STEM Academy would be pushed back to a 9 a.m. start time. Joy Lea, a parent who presented the potential plans to the board, said the later time would help teachers prepare for their classes

“The issue is that teachers get on campus in the morning and aren’t able to prepare because we pull them in meetings and other things to address the virus,” Lea said.

The two paths involving online courses would condense each yearlong class would be condensed into a single semester, with the idea being students could take only four classes at a time while still covering a full course load.

White Pine is one of the first schools in Idaho Falls to announce the options it was considering for the fall trimester. Idaho Falls School District 91 sent out a parent survey last week to see how comfortable families were with sending their students back in the fall. The school board will go over the results at their next meeting on July 8 and will begin making plans for the fall afterward. Bonneville will present three plans to the school board during its July 13 meeting.

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