MERIDIAN, Idaho — The West Ada School District announced Tuesday school will resume on an alternating schedule on Wednesday. The district says students in the "team 2" designation will be in in-person class on Wednesday.
"Some of those teachers' concerns revolve around not being able to be socially distanced with their students in their classrooms, so we're taking those concerns on a case by case basis trying to address those issues in the classroom," said Char Jackson, Chief Communications Officer of the West Ada School District.
District officials said in an email to parents and students that they are committed to balancing in-person learning, the safety of students and teachers and COVID-19 protocols.
West Ada Education Association President Eric Thies said in a statement Tuesday night the organization is "disappointed" they were not able to reach an agreement with the district and said they have agreed to wait until the next school board meeting Tuesday to evaluate the progress of enhanced safety protocols.
The statement reads:
We are disappointed that we have not been able to reach an agreement with the West Ada School District on a revised plan to keep educators and students safe. The district has requested time to work on finding ways to enhance safety protocols, and ensure those protocols are being followed. We have agreed to wait until their school board meeting Tuesday to evaluate their progress. It is our strong hope that they will present a revised plan that addresses the concerns of educators.
The members of WAEA want to provide instruction and support for their amazing students. We are encouraging educators to focus on instruction this week and are excited to see our students again. The classroom experience is the cornerstone of learning, but it is the district’s responsibility to provide an environment that is safe for students and staff. To this point we are not convinced that they have done so.
We appreciate the desire of West Ada educators to have proper safety protocols and transparency in place during this public health crisis and acknowledge the drastic steps they have taken to ensure that their voices are heard. The West Ada Education Association will continue to hold district leadership accountable for the safety of students and educators, and we look forward to seeing their revised plan and how they will enforce safety protocols.
The district says they are visiting classrooms that teachers have said do not allow them to social distance from students and address these on a case by case basis. The district is also working with Dr. David Pate, the retired CEO of St. Luke's Health System, who is holding a virtual meeting with teachers to answer questions about their safety on Thursday.
Dr. Pate has finished a draft of his evaluation of the district's pandemic plan and health and safety plan. He is talking with other local doctors and their comments will be included in a final draft that will be ready for the Board on Friday, according to the email. Dr. Pate says he is willing to present his findings and recommendations to the Board on October 27.
The Idaho Education Association announced earlier today they are creating a Health and Safety Hotline for Idaho educators to call to report situations and activities that put the health of educators at risk. The concerns will be shared, when appropriate, with public education decision-makers.
Idaho News 6 will continue to follow this developing story throughout the week.