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Middleton School District to use Southwest District Health data for school-year decisions

Posted at 7:29 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 09:29:17-04

MIDDLETON, Idaho — The Middleton School District will use Southwest District Health Department’s rolling average of positive COVID cases for Middleton’s zip code, 83644, to determine which category schools will operate.

The five-member Board of Trustees agreed unanimously Wednesday in a special board meeting to keep the metrics simple, using SWDH’s seven-day rolling average daily incident report. Instead of using the category determined for Canyon County, the Middleton School District will rely on more focused numbers with the ultimate goal of keeping students in class whenever possible.

If Middleton schools were to open today, the category would be yellow. Two weeks ago, the category was red. The Board will meet on August 31 to determine what category the district will open on September 8, the first day of school. After that, the board will decide, based on the rolling average, every two weeks, beginning September 9 for the following Monday, in this case, September 14.

Even though students live in other nearby zip code areas, including Caldwell and Star, 65 percent of the district’s student population lives in the 83644 zip code. Other factors that could influence a decision on opening include the student absentee rate, availability of substitutes, and the age range of those who test positive in the 83644 zip code.

At the request of Middleton Education Association President Dave Stacy, trustees also discussed the need to amend the MSD COVID-19 Reopening Plan to give teachers, who have health concerns, options in the event that students don’t wear a mask in their classroom. Currently, the plan states that students and staff be encouraged to wear personal protective equipment, masks, or shields.

Trustees shared their concerns for teachers, but also discussed a lack of enforcement in the current plan, and if enforced, what it could mean to enrollment numbers, thereby jeopardizing state funding. Since the matter was not listed as an agenda item, trustees could not decide a final outcome Wednesday but discussed updated wording that would require a mask or shield when social distancing, of at least 6 feet, could not be maintained.

In other action, the board adopted a revised school calendar. Superintendent Kristin Beck told trustees that the delayed start of school (from August 18 to September 8) means a loss of 11 instructional days that have to be made up.

  • Option A extended the school year beyond Memorial Day, to June 10.
  • Option B keeps the same end of school date, May 27, but adds Fridays, (normally no class because of the 4-day school week) through the school year for remote learning.

Beck said staff and parents indicated, in separate surveys, their preference for adding in the Fridays instead of extending the year. Trustees adopted Option B.

For more from the meeting, click here.