TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District is preparing for students to return August 16th for the start of the academic year.
As the date approaches, school officials have put together their American Rescue Plan to see how they will be handling the student's return. Now that school officials have a greater understanding of how to handle COVID-19 in comparison to last year, they're attempting to provide a more normal experience for kids.
“Obviously, we also want to give our kids as normal of an experience as we can,” said Brady Dickinson, the superintendent for the Twin Falls School District.
To try and make the year feel as normal as possible, officials will be focusing more on what is happening inside of schools rather than what is happening outside in the community.
“It’s concerning that you’re seeing cases in the community," said Dickinson. "But, I think most of the concern at this point is, how is that going to manifest itself between the walls of the school? Are you going to see that spread? Are you going to have students that are sick? Are they going to be spreading it to each other?”
The district will be taking some safety protocols and recommending some. Masks will be optional for kids, and schools will also provide them for students if they need one. Hand sanitizer will be regularly available and social distancing will be encouraged.
All schools in the district have also hired one additional custodian whose responsibility will be to clean surfaces around the school throughout the day, every day.
Despite the precautions being taken by the district, for parents who may not feel comfortable sending their kids back, officials are still offering families to participate in hybrid model learning.
“I think it’s important that families have choices," said Dickinson. "Being able to provide that digital option, I think is important, and we can offer that K-12.”
For students that choose to stay in school and up getting sick, either with COVID or something else, the district will have them quarantine for 10 days. Students can return to the classroom earlier if they receive a negative COVID test.
However, during their quarantine, students will also be able to continue learning from home.
“We’ll still have the Chromebooks that we can check out, hotspots to students that need them so that during the time when a student is out of school for a sickness or for any other reason, we can provide those digital materials,” said Dickinson.
The district's American Rescue Plan will be reviewed at least every six months to see if any changes are needed. However, if a serious situation arises, the district can reframe its plan and safety protocols whenever if it's needed.
“Realistically that would be lots of kids out sick, or severe disease, or for some reason, the vaccines stop working and a lot of the adults are getting sick," said Dickinson. "You're going to have to see some of those major changes that hit schools.”