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State provides framework for reopening school in the fall

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State provides framework for reopening school in the fall
Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 20:33:46-04

BOISE — Idaho will remain in stage 4 for another two weeks. The state did not meet the criteria to advance past the final stage of the rebound plan, and the data show an upward trend in percent positive cases.

That's the information coming out of Governor Little's press conference this afternoon, and one of the other big topics also addressed is the state's reopening plan for schools.

The state released a 34-page outline of recommendations for districts across the state. It's the most concrete plan so far. Leaders say reopening plans and procedures for school districts will be locally controlled.

"it's imperative that students return to their classrooms and interact directly with their teachers and classmates at the end of the summer, but we also must make sure this can happen safely," said Governor Little.

Governor Little and Superintendent Sherri Ybarra say districts across the state will look different.

"There is no one size fits all approach because when schools reopen this fall, communities will be in different stages of the pandemic, that's why local control here is so important," said Ybarra.

It's their goal, and the goal of Idaho State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield to get students back in the classroom.

"When we compare where we've been and where are, the hope and expectation is we can return to school and frankly that mirrors the expectations and desires of families, of students, of educators and administrators," said Critchfield.

The framework outlines three different scenarios based on the level of community spread.

Category one means no community transmission, and the recommended response is school buildings are open. Category 2 is minimal community transmission, and the recommended response is buildings are open, but with possible limited or staggered use. Category three accounts for substantial spread and recommends remote learning. Those scenarios have recommendations within them for things like family considerations, telework for vulnerable staff and students, food service, and more.

The local public health district will make those determinations.

"They'll work with the schools so we can take action, we know that we have a lot of disease in the community right now and it wouldn't surprise me if we're in the moderate or substantial, certainly not minimal or none, but that really will be the local health district that will make that call," state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn.

Officials say this framework is not mandatory for the schools to follow. It's only supposed to help assist in their decision making.

Within the framework, there is nothing about mandating masks within schools for either students or staff. Officials said that would also be a locally made decision by the districts.