School officials are gearing up for another start to a school year during an ongoing pandemic.

After an August 25 workshop, the St. Maries School District and school board came away with an approved plan to start off the beginning of the school year.

Superintendent Alica Holthaus said the St. Maries District will no longer conduct contact tracing and that masks are recommended for staff and students but not required.

“Our number one concern is always the kids,” Holthaus said. “The idea of life going back to normal, I love that, but it’s still a stressful time we are going through.”

The plan will also allow for Holthaus to have the authority to close schools in the district in the case of an extreme COVID-19 outbreak.

Holthaus said she hopes it never comes down to having a repeat of the 2020 spring semester, but she said there is a more established plan in the case that there is another shutdown.

“The laptops that the district acquired will be very helpful,” Holthaus said. “If we have to we will return to blended learning or packets. Luckily teachers will already be familiar with these kinds of measures.”

The St. Maries School District will also return to a full five-day schedule for staff and students.

The Plummer-Worley School District decided earlier in August to also return to a five-day week schedule with in-person instruction. Superintendent Russ Mitchell said the use of masks will be up to staff, students and parents.

“During the 2020-21 school year, the district operated the entire year with a mask mandate in place,” Mitchell said. “We are leaving the wearing of masks up to the guardians for their student(s) and what the respective staff member chooses to do personally is up to the respective staff member.”

Like last year’s opening plan, the district will operate under a three level system that will be identified under the colors green, yellow and red to determine the severity of COVID cases within the community and district.

“Which level the district operates in is determined by conditions on campus,” Mitchell said. “It is the district’s intent to open in Green.”

The reopeing plan for Plummer-Worley School District can be found by visiting https://www.pwsd44.com/.

The Kootenai School District also met last week and discussed reopening plans.

Superintendent Wade Pilloud said the district will open with masks as a recommendation and the district will operate with a normal all day schedule, five days a week.

“Hand sanitizer and hand washing will be used along with air disinfecting units in classrooms and hallways,” Pilloud said.

For more information call the St. Maries District at 208-245-2579, the Plummer-Worley District at 208-686-1621 or the Kootenai District at 208-689-3631.

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