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How Boise School District is keeping students socially distant

The Boise School District began its phased return to in-person learning on Tuesday.

BOISE, Idaho — From spaced-out desks to carpet markers showing students what six feet apart looks like, schools in the Boise School District are implementing different tools and resources to visually show students how to follow social distancing guidelines.

“The schools have done a great job of putting together their pandemic operations plans,” Boise School District spokesperson Dan Hollar said. 

Prior to students returning to phased in-person learning on Tuesday, schools shared their pandemic operation plans with parents. Shadow Hills Elementary is one of those schools. 

“When students are first learning to read we use a lot of pictures, so this is just a variation of that,” Shadow Hills principal Gale Zickefoose said. “We've got different colors for different parts of our building so the kids can see that they need to follow a certain color to get to different parts of our building. For example, we've got blue spots that lead to our cafeteria.” 

The markers are not only on display for children inside the school buildings but on the playgrounds as well. 

“Our younger students, they need a visual image of what six feet of distance means, and some schools have been very creative about that,” Hollar said.

 As for masks, students are required to wear a mask while in the classroom. They may be able to remove the mask during outdoor time like recess if they can maintain physical distance.

“Our kids have been coming to school and wearing face masks and just like adults we need reminders," Zickefoose said. "We walk into a store and there's a sign, so we're doing that here at school as well, mostly verbally."

Student's actions are a combination of parents communicating with their kids and modeling that behavior. In the meantime, Shadow Hills faculty are also using this time to reinforce those best practices of washing hands and sneezing and coughing into your elbow.

“We've got four phases and if everything goes according to plan, we're hoping that in consultation with Central District Health and other medical providers we can get everybody back to five days a week learning on November 9," Hollar said. "That's a big if, right? It depends on the spread of the virus and we all need to do our part in that regard."

Every school in the Boise School district has a pandemic plan and anyone can look at them online.

“Our kids are resilient," Zickefoose said. "Our kids have been doing a great job, the teachers have been doing a great job, it’s been a really heavy lift and we know that we are not perfect, but we are doing our best."

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