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Families in Ada, Boise, Elmore and Valley counties should not expect their schools to be classified in the lowest level of coronavirus risk at any point during the 2020-21 school year, Central District Health officials announced Wednesday. Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin writes that the announcement was not specific to any school. But it sets up the potential for a long year of blended or remote learning for Idaho’s two largest school districts — Boise and West Ada — and schools across the four-county health district.

Public health officials are working with local schools to help them understand where they fall under the nonbinding reopening guidance Gov. Brad Little and the State Board of Education issued earlier this month.

The state’s guidelines set up three categories based on the risk of virus transmission, with recommended levels of operations assigned to each category: Category 1, or no community transmission, calls for schools to open with physical distancing and sanitation practices; Category 2, or minimal to moderate community transmission, allows for schools to open but with the option of limited or staggered building use. This guidance also incorporates blended learning, a mix of in-person instruction coupled with online or distance learning; Category 3, or substantial community transmission, calls for targeted short-term or extended building closures.

“Given the level of transmission and continued increases in our four counties, schools and families should not expect to see Category 1 school operations during the 2020-2021 school year,” Central District Health officials wrote in a Wednesday afternoon news release.

You can read Corbin's full story here at idahoednews.org, or pick up today's Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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