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West Ada Education Association reacts to plan for in-person learning

Posted at 4:50 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 10:38:36-05

BOISE, Idaho — West Ada School District (WAEA) voted Tuesday to approve a plan to return to in-person learning. The original plan listed a return to in-person learning for high school students on April 9, and April 13 for middle school students.

On Tuesday trustees voted 4-1 to amend the start date to March 29.

The West Ada Education Association released a statement to Idaho News 6 Wednesday reacting to the decision to move up the date for a return to the classroom.

The West Ada Education Association is disappointed, once again, by the audacious decision made by the West Ada School Board. The WAEA and the staff of West Ada are eager to have students return to full in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so. While we may not agree with the criteria presented by the school district administrators, we do understand that stakeholders were represented on the committee who made the recommendations.

By voting to amend those recommendations and create a March 30 return to full in-person instruction, the West Ada School Board have effectively negated the criteria that was meant to allow the district time to prepare operationally and allow the staff time to get vaccinated.

Although they said they were doing this to improve learning in our schools, the school board seemed unable to recognize this date will cause a significant disruption to learning just before finals, a time when students and teachers should be focused on academics. This is especially true for hundreds of students who will chose to transfer to the Virtual School House and must do so just before the end of their classes.

Finally, this decision fails to consider any of the safety risks that exist in the world right now. Physical distancing and wearing a mask remain our best efforts at mitigating the spread of COVID in our buildings, especially in light of the many variants spreading around the world. The School Board has disregarded physical distancing in their new plan and is placing our students and staff at risk.

The decision made on Tuesday night by the WASB showed a lack of support for the district’s staff, a disregard for safety, and little thought to the impact, this decision would truly have on students and their education."

Criteria to return to in-person learning full time: A chance for all West Ada Staff to be vaccinated, and student/staff positivity rate is below 2% for two straight weeks.

The district will continue to focus on mitigating measures like hand hygiene, sanitizing, and physical distancing when possible, the district's website says six- feet of social distancing "will not occur when all students are back in the building."

According to the district's website, Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells will inform the board if the start date needs to be changed at its next regular meeting scheduled for Feb. 23.