WAEA: School board meeting left many "disappointed, confused, and concerned"

Is COVID-19 in your school? Many Treasure Valley schools won’t tell you.
Posted at 6:46 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 22:27:21-04

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The West Ada School board meeting on Tuesday passed a motion allowing K-5 students to have in-person learning every day, with Monday's early release, starting Nov. 10.

According to the West Ada Education Association Executive Board, the Oct. 27 meeting left "many teachers disappointed, confused, and concerned for the safety and well-being of the students."

During the meeting, West Ada board members revisited the district's COVID-19 safety plan with the feedback of a group, led by Dr. David Pate, retired CEO of St. Luke's medical group.

The WAEA wrote an open letter to the West Ada School District Board of Trurstees stating, "Dr. Pate testified that bringing elementary school students into classrooms on a full-time, in-person basis is essentially an experiment. To be clear, this is an experiment that examines how a deadly virus that caused a global pandemic will spread through the students and staff in your school buildings. Your decision to move forward with this experiment is irresponsible and jeopardizes the health, and even the lives, of the people you are charged with protecting."

Philip Neuhoff, Chairman for the West Ada School Board responded with the following statement:

“In making the current decision, the board carefully considered all of the information provided Tuesday and before, including Dr. Pate's testimony that there is little evidence of transmission in elementary schools (which is borne out by the district dashboard), that K-5 children are at relatively low risk for transmission, and the assurances from administration and our medical experts that there would be close active monitoring of both cases in the district as well as the implementation of safety measures. A part of this is careful consideration of the feasibility of social distancing in every classroom. Should active transmission concerns arise or it becomes clear that there is no solution to social distancing, I would anticipate administrative and/or board action. In the meantime, it is critical that everyone in our school community do everything possible to practice appropriate safety measures in our schools, as well as away from the school environment where the cases we are currently experiencing are largely being infected.”

The open letter from WAEA also stated that many West Ada educators feel unsafe in the current work environment and consider leaving the district.