TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Twin Falls School District is planning to go back to school in person this fall, but what happens if a student tests positive for the coronavirus?
The plan, for now, is to handle COVID-19 cases on a school by school basis.
"If it closes a school it would close it for a day or two to allow us to clean and identify the students who were at high risk or were significantly exposed, and get those students out in quarantine and then bring the rest back," explained Dr. Brady Dickinson, Superintendent of the Twin Falls School District.
The school district's "back to school" plan will work on a levels system determined by the amount of community spread in Twin Falls.
The four levels are:
- 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)
During those two cleaning days, the school in question would temporarily shift into the red level.
If a student tests positive for the virus, the district plans to send out three different communications to parents, depending on their child's level of exposure.
"We have those who are minimally exposed, those who are moderately exposed, and those who are significantly exposed," Dickinson said.
The district says communications about COVID-19 cases will be strictly with those who need to know in order to protect the identity of the student with the virus.
"When we have a case in a school, we're not going to send those out to the entire district. If we have a case in one elementary school, it's not going to be uncommon if your child is in a completely different elementary school for you to not receive that communication because you didn't have any exposure," Dickinson said. "Parents should know we're not able to release names. People are protected under what is called FERPA and HIPPA laws. We'll be able to tell parents we had a fifth-grade student at a particular school, but we can't tell them who that student is."
The district stresses their plans are based on what we know right now, but they could change as we learn about the virus.
"I think we just have to recognize that the plan is our best plan forward but it is subject to change based on what we learn," Dickinson said.
If a student does test positive for the virus, or they have to quarantine, the district is planning to provide them with an extra 10 school days.
If a staff member tests positive, they'll be given 10 paid days if they're seeking treatment or testing.
If you'd like to weigh in on the plan, click here.