MERIDIAN, Idaho — Following a decision by trustees in January to stop sending COVID-19 exposure notifications, the West Ada School District announced its plans to resume alerts on an opt-in basis.
West Ada trustees voted 3-2 to stop sending COVID-19 exposure notifications to student guardians on Jan. 24. Several trustees, including board chair Rusty Coffelt, said the exposure warnings were causing more harm than good.
"We're creating stress on our families," Coffelt said during the January meeting. "That doesn't really seem necessary."
The state dashboard reported a COVID-19 test positivity rate of about 34% when the West Ada school board voted to end exposure notifications.
On Monday, WASD Superintendent Derek Bub said the district had received a lot of feedback about the trustees' decision. In January, Bub expressed concerns that an opt-in program would impact staff.
"When it was brought up during the discussion, I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I don't know if we can really do that and not cause a ton of extra work on our staff," Bub said on Monday.
Since then, Bub said a team of district staff has decided an opt-in program is feasible.
He said notifications for K-5 students will not be classroom-specific but will be available by grade level and school. Exposure notifications for students in grades six through 12 will only alert guardians on a school-specific basis.
"It's a little bit more difficult because they're moving from class to class and moving around," Bub said about the secondary school notifications. "So that becomes more challenging."
Bub said a survey would be sent to parents about their interest in the opt-in exposure program by the end of the week.
In January, the school board also tasked district leadership with developing a new COVID-19 working group to review current COVID-19 policies and create an endemic plan for future school years. The WASD currently does not have a mask mandate and follows quarantine guidelines set by Central District Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What "endemic looks like," Bub described on Monday, is treating COVID-19 similarly to other infectious diseases like the flu.
"I have asked all of our department heads from academics, operations, nursing, food and nutrition, custodial and transportation to look at how we're going to operate in this scenario for the long term," he said.
Bub hopes to bring the district's findings to the trustees and public at the next board meeting on Feb. 28. Following the presentation, Bub said the board would have to decide if they like the endemic plan and when to implement it.