The Boise School District will shut down in-person schooling at the Thanksgiving break and won’t return until at least mid-January, the Board of Trustees decided Thursday afternoon.
In-person schooling will run through Friday, Nov. 20. It won’t resume until at least Jan. 19, after winter break and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. The change affects 4 1/2 weeks of in-person schooling (nine school days per student).
Also, all athletics activities will be suspended through at least Jan. 15. That begins immediately, and includes practices and workouts. It’s possible those would be resumed before in-person learning, BSD Superintendent Coby Dennis said during the board meeting. At least a couple of coaches have contracted COVID-19, he said.
The district decision comes as Idaho and the Boise area are being hammered by new cases of COVID-19.
“We’re at a critical place right now, where operationally we can’t make this work anymore,” Dennis said.
The problem, the district said, is that 1,580 staff and students are in quarantine with illnesses or exposure to COVID-19 cases — a number that is growing quickly. That’s leading to teacher shortages, including substitutes, and bus driver shortages. Five or six special education classrooms are completely shut down, the district said.
This move isn’t a safety issue, Dennis said. Rather, he said, the problem is that the virus is spreading so thoroughly in the community that staffing has become a major limiting factor.
The Boise School District has held in-person school two days a week per student, with them rotating on Tuesday-Thursday and Wednesday-Friday schedules. Mondays are virtual for all students.