First day of school

Ali Sehnert sends her son, Seppi, inside for his first day of kindergarten Tuesday, Sept. 1, at Jackson Elementary School.

The Teton County school board voted Wednesday night against a plan to bring elementary students back into the classroom full-time, five days a week.

As the Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees considered a motion to eliminate the single day of virtual learning that takes place on Fridays, educators gave public comment asking the board to stay the course at least through the end of the month.

"I'm speaking on behalf of our elementary teachers who have responded heroically to our request to make all of this possible," Munger Mountain Elementary School Principal Scott Eastman told the board. "Our virtual Friday is the only opportunity to take a breath, meet as a staff and ensure that we are prepared."

The motion would have brought school back to full time next week, and the activity bus would have started Monday. It had the support of Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell, who wrote in a letter to the board that because students are learning in pods and not mingling with the school population at large, adding a day wouldn't drastically increase their exposure risk.

However, educators stressed that they have only been working under the Smart Start plan for a week. Changing teaching practices and schedules has been an undertaking, and they said switching on a dime would be stressful and difficult for educators.

"After only five days, we don't even know if the distance we've been able to maintain between students or uses of masks is having much of an effect," said Chris Bessonette, a Munger Mountain teacher who spoke for his colleagues as a representative of the Teton County Education Association.

The discussion was lengthy and, at times, heated, but the board finally settled on a plan that calls for a special meeting Oct. 5 to discuss elementary students returning to five days per week Oct. 19.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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(2) comments

Skyler Smith

Just go back to school and end this farce.

Tim Rieser

If you want to open the schools, then close the bars.

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