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Gov. Little announces two new committees to discuss reopening schools

Posted at 11:04 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 13:04:39-04

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little announced today the formation of two new committees to create a plan for reopening public schools this fall.

The committees will support the Governor’s Office and the State Board of Education, which have been working with school districts for weeks on reopening options and making access to remote learning more consistent within and between school districts.

“Despite these extraordinary circumstances, it is my intent to have schools safely reopen across Idaho in the fall, although it may look different than it has in the past,” Governor Brad Little said. “Both of the committees, led by State Board of Education members, can support and remove barriers to the fall reopening, provide clear expectations, and identify the tools to meet those expectations," said Little.

The Public Schools Reopening Committee is chaired by Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield and includes participation from legislators, the State Department of Education, school district and charter school administrators, operations staff, business and industry representatives and state health officials.

“Our goal is to successfully reopen schools in the fall and provide clear expectations for student learning and guidance to school districts as they make their decisions locally,” Critchfield said. “Districts are discussing approaches to reopening and how to navigate the learning environment. Many decisions are contingent upon developing and changing conditions.”

State Board of Education member Kurt Liebich leads the Digital Divide Committee, which includes school technology directors, administrators, business leaders, and legislators.

“When the pandemic forced the soft closure of schools and a transition to distance learning options, it became painfully clear just how wide the digital divide is,” Liebich said. “We will discuss access to devices for students and ways to improve connectivity throughout the state. Additionally, we will support school districts and charter schools as they develop strategies to implement a blended learning model. Robust learning management systems and professional development are also part of our overall vision for each and every public school in our state.”

Both committees are extensions of the Governor’s K-12 Emergency Council, formed in March to respond to the pandemic and advise the Governor on K-12 issues during these unprecedented times.