HAGERMAN, Idaho — Districts across the state are preparing to welcome students back to school in person, but for smaller districts, fewer resources mean more challenges.
The Hagerman School District has around 300 students, and though there aren't many cases in the area, they're still taking precautions as they gear up for the first day of school.
"Right now we're trying to implement some plexiglass dividers," explained Dr. Jim Brown, Superintendent of the district. "Those will prevent you from having to quarantine if someone within that classroom were to have a confirmed case of COVID."
Despite the district's small size, social distancing in the classroom is still a challenge.
"Some class sizes are larger than others, but whenever you have a classroom of 20 or more it's tough to maintain a six-foot social distance," explained Brown. "You either have to have them wear masks, or provide those barriers."
The district has gotten federal funding to help with the costs of providing protective equipment like those masks and dividers, but Brown says they're working with limited resources.
"We're just kind of guestimating at how much this is going to be because we've never been there," Brown said. "I'm hopeful it will be enough and I believe that it will be, it's just going to limit what we can do."
- Green: Means it's business as usual for the schools, with in-person classes and typical school protocols
- Yellow: Stricter focus on COVID-19 precautions (social distancing etc.)
- Orange: A "hybrid" between online and in person. Half the students would be in-person and the other half would be learning online. It would rotate on an "A" day "B" day type schedule.
- Red: Complete return to distance learning (similar to what we saw this spring)
In all of the levels, the district is increasing sanitary protocols throughout the schools and are working to make sure they're prepared if they need to make the switch to remote learning--but those preparations bring staffing challenges
"Our resources are limited. So it might even be something that we have to end up bringing on some additional staff members to help with those cleaning and disinfectant procedures," explained Brown. "With the increased funding for technology resources we may have to bring on another IT person, and as staff--if we have to quarantine rooms and staff, we may also have to bring on another individual who can assist with that."
Despite the challenges, Brown says he's confident the district is ready to safely welcome students back to school.
"I think that even though we had a recent case down here in Hagerman, I don't think it's a reason to panic," Brown said. "A couple of cases aren't going to change us opening in the fall. As of right now, I feel confident we can return in the fall."
The first day of school is August 24.